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)
January 11, 1967
Intelligence Note 13 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'The Chinese Nuclear Threat to Non-Communist Asia'
Prepared by Edward Hurwitz, a Foreign Service officer and future ambassador then on assignment to INR, this report treated ICBMs as China’s main weapons goal, an eventual means for a “credible threat” to Beijing’s U.S. and Soviet “arch enemies. ”
March 01, 1967
Research Memorandum REU-13 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Reasons for West German Opposition to the Non-Proliferation Treaty'
By the late winter/early spring of 1967, controversy over the NPT was hurting US-West German relations, placing them at perhaps their lowest point during the Cold War. While this report suggested that West Germany would ultimately sign the Treaty, despite objections, only weeks later the INR issued another report wondering whether Bonn was trying to wreck the NPT.
March 03, 1967
Research Memorandum REU-14 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'How Major NATO Countries View the Prospect of an ABM Deployment'
Despite new information that the Soviet Union was deploying anti-ballistic missile defenses around Moscow, the United States had not yet decided to deploy its own ABM defenses (although a decision would be made later in the year) and there was some hope that U.S.-Soviet talks would prevent an ABM race. If, however, talks failed, some NATO allies worried about the “adverse consequences” of an ABM race, especially whether having an ABM system might incline Washington toward risk taking.
March 17, 1967
Research Memorandum RAR-8 from George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, 'The Latin American Nuclear Free Zone: Pluses and Minuses'
The treaty creating the Latin American Nuclear Free Zone (LANFZ) was signed at Tlatelolco, Mexico, on 14 February 1967. Taking a close look at key provisions, INR found that the entry into force provisions included loopholes which “unenthusiastic” states could use so the treaty did not cover their territory.
March 20, 1967
Research Memorandum REU-16 from George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, 'Swedish Decision to Cut Military Spending Causes Defense Review, Reduces Likelihood of Nuclear Weapons Acquisition'
The Swedish government rejected Supreme Commander Torsten Rapp’s proposals to fund a nuclear weapons program. This INR report from March 1967 on proposed cuts in defense spending suggested that the possibility that Sweden would acquire nuclear weapons had grown even more remote.
March 27, 1967
Intelligence Note 242 from George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, 'Peking May Have ICBMs in 1971'
Years before Beijing actually deployed an ICBM in 1981, US intelligence estimated the possibility of the deployment of a “few operable, though probably relatively inefficient missiles” as early as 1971.
April 08, 1967
Intelligence Note 273 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Acting Secretary, 'Has West Germany Decided to Try to Scuttle the Non-Proliferation Treaty?'
By the late winter/early spring of 1967, controversy over the NPT was hurting U.S.-West German relations, placing them at perhaps their lowest point during the Cold War. While an earlier report suggested that West Germany would ultimately sign the Treaty, despite objections, only weeks late INR this report was issued wondering whether Bonn was trying to wreck the NPT.
April 12, 1967
Intelligence Note from Thomas L. Hughes to the Acting Secretary, 'Soviets Continue to Denounce American Interpretation of Nonproliferation Treaty'
The Soviets were insisting that article III on safeguards mention only the IAEA but not the European Atomic Energy Community [EURATOM], even though West Germany and other EURATOM members resisted the idea of IAEA inspections in Western Europe. It would take quite a few months before the Article III wording was to everyone’s satisfaction, but the Soviets also objected to US interpretations of the proposed Article II which would permit a nuclear-armed, united Western Europe.
April 14, 1967
Intelligence Note 292 from Secret Allan Evans to the Acting Secretary, 'Japanese Expert Considers Nuclear Defense'
INR assessed several recent newspaper articles by Kiichi Saeki, a defense expert close to the government, whose thinking was “noteworthy for [its] frank consideration of Japan’s need for nuclear-defense planning to cope with Communist China’s growing potential.”
April 21, 1967
Research Memorandum RSB-46 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Soviet Policy on Nonproliferation Moves in Two Directions'
Not altogether sure whether the Soviets were really committed to the NPT, the fact that the Soviets had been discussing security assurances with the Indians was seen as evidence that Moscow was interested in having a treaty. India was one of the countries that was especially resistant to the NPT and the Soviets were only one of a number of governments, e.g. Canada, which vainly tried to persuade Indira Gandhi to sign on.
May 30, 1967
Intelligence Note 418 from George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, 'Probable Effects of Chinese Possession of MRBMs on Vietnam War'
A prospective Chinese MRBM force led INR to consider whether Beijing would believe that it had more freedom of action to step up its involvement in the Vietnam War: it “might feel freer in extending aid to Hanoi and becoming more involved in the war if US pressure on the North Vietnamese seemed to require it.”
June 02, 1967
Report, Embassy of Hungary in the Soviet Union to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry
Discussion with the Soviet Foreign Ministry on the direction of India’s foreign policy. Topics covered include Indian opposition to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; India’s position on the escalating tensions between Egypt and Israel; the possible establishment of a new Asian regional economic bloc; and the recent decision by the United States to eliminate military aid to both India and Pakistan. Soviet policy towards India and Pakistan is also discussed, including the possibility of providing military supplies to Pakistan.
August 14, 1967
Intelligence Note 669 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, 'Tests of Soviet Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS)'
Soviet tests of a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS) attracted the interest of the US intelligence community because of the unique challenges it posed to defenses. At that point, August 1967, the US had no means to detect a FOBs attack but INR noted that a satellite detection system would be operational during 1970. This was a reference to the secret Defense Support Program (DSP), which would use infrared technology to detect missile launches and reduce any surprise advantage from the FOBs. The Soviets recognized this and later retired their twenty or so ICBMs with FOBs capabilities in 1983.
August 21, 1968
Report, Embassy of Hungary in the Soviet Union to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry
Report on the results of Indian President Zakir Hussain's visit to Moscow, including discussion of Soviet-Indian relations broadly and India's relations with Pakistan, as well as on Soviet efforts to pressure India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
December 31, 1968
National Intelligence Estimate, NIE 22-68, 'French Nuclear Weapons and Delivery Capabilities'
The French nuclear program had been of great concern to US presidents during the 1960s because Paris had defied US pressure and was also suspected of supporting proliferation by aiding the Israeli nuclear program. This recently declassified estimate, prepared at the close of the Johnson administration, gives a picture of a program that was slowing down because of internal financial and economic problems, in part by the impact of the May 1968 student and worker uprising.
March 25, 1974
Report, National Security Council Under Secretaries’ Committee, 'Action Plan for Implementing NSDM 235'
An interagency NSC sub-committee was exploring the problem of safeguards for sensitive nuclear exports. The problem was that an existing group, the Zangger Committee based on NPT membership, did not have a broad enough membership or scope to manage the problem and that France did not belong to the Zanggger Committee.. Under Secretaries Committee proposed “talks with other suppliers of technology and equipment in the reprocessing and enrichment fields on desirable new constraints or guidelines that should be followed.”