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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Nuclear Proliferation

Documents on the history of nuclear proliferation, the arms race, and disarmament efforts. See also the related collections in the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, US Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missile, US Army)

  • August 28, 1963

    Research Memorandum REU-56 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Sweden Still Faces Question of Acquiring Nuclear Weapons'

    Based on the evidence, mainly various statements made by leading politicians, diplomats, and policymakers, INR experts concluded that most of the countries surveyed (Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Greece) were “relatively satisfied,” while only West Germany was “restive” to the extent that some of its officials were interested in a NATO or European nuclear force

  • September 27, 1963

    Conversation between Soviet Ambassador in North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and Soviet Specialists in North Korea

    Soviet specialists in North Korea inform the Ambassador that the Koreans are attempting to acquire large amounts of uranium ore.

  • October 08, 1963

    Letter from Gomulka to Khrushchev, Marked "Final Version"

    Letter from Gomulka to Khrushchev discussing Polish opposition to Soviet proposal for a Non-Proliferation Treaty. Gomulka suggests that the treaty will further split the communist camp. While discussing the state of Sino-Soviet relations, the Polish leader suggests that the Soviet Union and the PRC adopt a common position in matters of foreign policy in order to strengthen the power of the Socialist camp.

  • October 14, 1963

    Discussion between Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vasilii Kuznetsov and the SED Politburo (Fragment)

    Excerpts of the meeting between Marshal V.V. Kuznetzov, Commander of the Warsaw Pact Forces, and the GDR politburo on issues of nuclear proliferation in Europe and Warsaw Pact planning.

  • March 04, 1964

    S. A. Levin, L.R. Powers, and E. Von Halle, Union Carbide Corporation Nuclear Division, 'Nth Power Evaluation'

    Union Carbide Nuclear Company updates their previous study on the ease with which other nations could secretly create nuclear weapon facilities using the gas centrifuge.

  • May 14, 1964

    Research Memorandum INR-16 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Indian Nuclear Weapons Development'

    An intelligence report that the fuel core of the Canadian-Indian Reactor (CIR) at Trombay was being changed every six months raised questions about India’s nuclear objectives: a six-month period was quite short for “normal research reactor operations,” but it was the optimum time for using the CIR’s spent fuel for producing weapons grade plutonium. According to INR, India had taken the “first deliberate decision in the series leading to a nuclear weapon,” which was to have “available, on demand, unsafeguarded weapons-grade plutonium or, at the least, the capacity to produce it.”

  • December 30, 1964

    Intelligence Note from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Soviet Interest in a West German Commitment Not To Manufacture Nuclear Weapons'

    INR estimated that the Soviets wanted to “play upon French concern” that West Germany might acquire nuclear weapons through new NATO nuclear arrangements, such as the MLF.

  • January 20, 1965

    Minutes of the Meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact Member States, Warsaw

    (Excerpts) Minutes of discussions of the Warsaw Pact Political Consultative Committee concerning non-proliferation. The Romanian delegation argues against a joint declaration of the Warsaw Pact on non-proliferation for fear that it might be used against China. The other delegations argue that a joint declaration is necessary in order to prevent the creation of the Multilaterall Nuclear Force proposed by NATO.

  • January 20, 1965

    Minutes of the Meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact Member States, Warsaw

    Romanian meeting minutes of Warsaw Pact Political Consultative Committee meeting concerning non-proliferation.

  • April 23, 1965

    Intelligence Note from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Will Communist China Assist Other Nations in Acquiring Nuclear Weapons?'

    Only months after China’s first nuclear test in October 1964, INR looked into whether Beijing would help other nations get the bomb.

  • May 20, 1965

    Intelligence Note from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Swedish Military Chief Seeks Appropriation for Nuclear Weapons in Next Budget'

    In a move interpreted by INR as part of a pro-nuclear “propaganda campaign,” Swedish Supreme Commander Torsten Rapp reportedly asked for funds for to cover the costs of nuclear weapons acquisition.

  • July 15, 1965

    Research Memorandum REU-25 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Attitudes of Selected Countries on Accession to a Soviet Co-sponsored Draft Agreement on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons'

    With a nuclear nonproliferation treaty under consideration in Washington, INR considered which countries were likely to sign on and why or why not. INR analysts, mistakenly as it turned out, believed it unlikely that the Soviet Union would be a co-sponsor of a treaty in part because of the “international climate” and also because Moscow and Washington differed on whether a treaty would recognize a “group capability.”

  • July 30, 1965

    Memorandum from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Recent Indonesian Statements Concerning Nuclear Weapons'

    Statements by Indonesian authorities notwithstanding, INR analysts did not “believe that Indonesia possesses the facilities, personnel and radioactive material necessary for producing an atomic device with any speed.”

  • September 29, 1965

    Research Memorandum RSB-106 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Soviet Conditions about Western Nuclear Arrangements for a Nondissemination Treaty'

    INR looked closely at Soviet positions on an NPT arguing that the Soviets appeared to “attach a higher priority in using the nondissemination issue as a means of attacking possible NATO nuclear arrangements than in concluding an agreement.”

  • September 30, 1965

    Minutes of Chairman Mao Zedong and Chairman Liu Shaoqi’s Meeting with the Indonesian Delegation

    Chairul Seleh of Indonesia met with Mao and discussed nuclear power, Indonesian economy and industry, Chinese-Indonesian relations, and imperialism.

  • October 13, 1965

    Research Memorandum RSB-115 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Soviet Views of Nuclear Sharing and Nonproliferation'

    INR looked closely at Soviet positions on an NPT arguing that the Soviets appeared to “attach a higher priority in using the nondissemination issue as a means of attacking possible NATO nuclear arrangements than in concluding an agreement.”

  • November 23, 1965

    Glenn Seaborg, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, to National Security Adviser McGeorge, Bundy, enclosing summary of 'Nth Country Evaluation'

    Summary of Union Carbide’s 1964 study on gas centrifuge technology’s effect on nuclear proliferation. The summary provides Union Carbide’s estimations for how long countries of varying industrial capability would take to develop a nuclear weapon, which was redacted in the original document.

  • January 20, 1966

    National Intelligence Estimate, NIE 4-66, 'The Likelihood of Further Nuclear Proliferation'

    This estimate updated an estimate (NIE-4-2-64) published in 1964 of the nuclear proliferation problem. That estimate, like this one, overestimated the likelihood of an Indian bomb, while somewhat underestimating Israel’s program. This assessment followed the same pattern—predicting India would produce a weapon within a “few years” and also putting Israel in the “might” category, although treating it as a “serious contender” nonetheless. Also following a short discussion of the “snowball effect” (later known as “proliferation cascades” or “chains”) suggesting that the United Arab Republic (Egypt-Syria) and Pakistan were likely to take the nuclear option should India or Israel go nuclear.

  • July 28, 1966

    Research Memorandum REU-52 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Nuclear Weapons Question Continues to Plague Swedish Government'

    In 1966, Sweden's Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Torsten Rapp, sought funds to support planning to produce nuclear weapons.

  • August 12, 1966

    Intelligence Note 506 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Will Communist China Give Nuclear Aid to Pakistan?'

    Intelligence reports about recent visits to Beijing by Pakistani defense and science officials raised questions whether China was or would be providing nuclear aid to Pakistan. The latter was already developing close relations with China, a matter which was of great concern to U.S. policymakers, but INR analyst Thomas Thornton concluded that Pakistan was highly unlikely to seek a significant degree of Chinese nuclear assistance.