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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)

  • October 17, 1974

    State Department telegram 228213 to U.S. Embassy Moscow, 'Nuclear Safeguards Consultations'

    The State Department took the first step to bringing the Soviets in by sending a telegram about the nuclear suppliers' project to the embassy in Moscow.

  • October 17, 1974

    Memorandum from Winston Lord, Fred Iklé, and Helmut Sonnenfeldt to the Secretary, 'Follow-up with French on Nuclear Export Controls'

    With an approach to the Soviets already in the works, Kissinger’s top advisers emphasized the importance of a parallel approach to the French, given their centrality to the prospects for a suppliers’ group. While no one could be sure whether the French would abandon their “case-by-case” approach to nuclear exports, the advisers believed that the French disliked nuclear proliferation and wished to remain the only nuclear weapons state in Western Europe.

  • October 22, 1974

    Memorandum from William H. Luers, Executive Secretariat, to Winston Lord and Fred Iklé

    Kissinger agreed that in his absence Acting Secretary of State Robert Ingersoll and ACDA Director Fred Iklé should meet with French Ambassador Kosciusko-Morizet and that the British, Germans, and Canadians should receive copies of the five-point paper, and also be informed of the approaches to the French and the Soviets.

  • October 31, 1974

    Memorandum, Hungarian Foreign Ministry, on India's Policy on Nuclear Disarmament

    An extended Hungarian Foreign Ministry memorandum explicating the development of India's policy on nuclear arms and disarmament from the 1960s as well as a discussion on the reasons that the socialist countries--including Hungary--have chosen not to condemn India for its May 1974 nuclear explosion.

  • December 21, 1974

    George H. Springsteen, Jr., Executive Secretary, to Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, 'Briefing Paper on Non-Proliferation'

    In the course of a background paper on the nuclear proliferation problem and policy options, the State Department updated the White House on the state of play of the nuclear suppliers’ initiative: the British, the Canadians, and the Soviets had agreed to attend a meeting; the Germans would agree “if all key suppliers” (France) accepted; and the Japanese, who had also been asked, had not responded. The French had not given an answer and bilateral discussions would take place to go over the issues.

  • 1975

    Cables between the Brazilian Embassy in Washington and the Brazilian Foreign Ministry on the Transfer of Nuclear Material

    A series of correspondence between Brazilian Foreign Ministry and Brazilian Ambassador to the US about the transfer of nuclear material from France to Brazil. Myron Kratzer, Acting Assistant Secretary for Scientific Affairs in the US, expressed his concern over the fact the nuclear material was of American origin.

  • January 16, 1975

    Memorandum to the Deputy Secretary from Winston Lord, 'Next Steps for the Nuclear Suppliers’ Conference'

    Memo of suggested issues to be discussed at meeting regarding nuclear suppliers' conference, specifically what to say to other suppliers regarding recent bilateral talks between France and the U.S. and further instructions for the French-U.S. bilateral talks regarding France's participation in the nuclear suppliers' conference.

  • February 24, 1975

    Memorandum of conversation, 'French Participation in the Nuclear Suppliers Conference'

    This memo outlines the process that the French said they would take in order to reach a decision regarding their participation in the nuclear suppliers' group conference. These steps include France presenting a paper on their position, the U.S. responding, and then more bilateral talks before a final decision is reached.

  • March 23, 1975

    State Department telegram 65502 to US Consulate, Jerusalem, 'Action Memorandum: Nuclear Suppliers' Conference'

    This telegram lists the complications that would arise if France does not agree to participate in the nuclear suppliers' meeting or if it delays its decision. Also lists ideas of how to overcome the challenges of the bilateral talks between the U.S. and France, and sends these various options to Paris.

  • March 26, 1975

    State Department memorandum, 'Nuclear Suppliers Conference/French Participation'

    This memo describes the details of the nuclear suppliers' conference, specifically the details of French participation. Cites the need for common understanding regarding nuclear exports is needed and therefore invites Great Britain, the Soviet Union, West Germany, Japan, and France to participate in the conference. Also details the process of trying to persuade France to participate and dissuading their reluctancy.

  • April 09, 1975

    Memorandum from George S. Vest, Bureau of European Affairs, to Secretary of State, 'French Foreign Minister's Response on Nuclear Suppliers Meeting'

    This memo includes a response from the French Foreign Minister Sauvagnargues regarding the nuclear suppliers' meeting. The French said that they will participate based on certain conditions. The memo also includes the U.S.'s reactions to these various conditions, which the U.S. believes it can fulfill.

  • April 19, 1975

    State Department telegram 90533 to US Embassy Paris, 'Exploratory Meeting of Nuclear Suppliers'

    Kissinger met with the French ambassador and provided the necessary assurances. Agreements would be based on consensus, decisions would not be retroactive, and the suppliers meetings would be “informal and confidential.” This arrangement assured that the suppliers’ group would operate on a lowest-common-denominator basis, but there was no choice because French participation was vital.

  • June, 1975

    Briefing Paper, 'The Nuclear Suppliers Conference'

    The U.S. delegation agreed to develop a policy paper that would take into account French and other views so as to reach agreement on the most “stringent” safeguards possible. A central but divisive issue was whether safeguards should apply to the entire nuclear fuel cycle (later known as “full-scope” safeguards). Another issue was whether multinational auspices for reprocessing and enrichment plants should be mandatory or a matter of discretion by a supplier country. This document specifically addresses the concerns of West Germany.

  • June, 1975

    Briefing Paper prepared for the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament, 'Status Summary of Nuclear Suppliers Conference and Relevant Bilateral Discussion'

    This document summarizes the nuclear suppliers' meeting on June 18-19. Topics covered included whether safeguards should apply to the entire nuclear fuel cycle (later known as “full-scope” safeguards). Another issue was whether multinational auspices for reprocessing and enrichment plants should be mandatory or a matter of discretion by a supplier country. On these matters and others, the French position was central.

  • June 14, 1975

    Memorandum from Thomas O. Enders to the Secretary, 'Draft Letter to Sauvagnargues'

    This memorandum describes Henry Kissinger's response to French Foreign Minister Sauvagnargues who requested a 27 member group to meet on issues similar to the previous nuclear suppliers' group meeting. Kissinger lists the complications that could arise from this and suggests not doing so. Document also includes another letter from Kissinger to Sauvagnargues regarding the important of nuclear export issues, as well as Kissinger's advisers suggestions to not send the letters to France just yet.

  • June 19, 1975

    U.S. Embassy London telegram 9376 to State Department, 'Nuclear Export Policy: Bilaterals with FRG'

    The U.S. delegation agreed to develop a policy paper that would take into account French and other views so as to reach agreement on the most “stringent” safeguards possible. A central but divisive issue was whether safeguards should apply to the entire nuclear fuel cycle (later known as “full-scope” safeguards). Another issue was whether multinational auspices for reprocessing and enrichment plants should be mandatory or a matter of discretion by a supplier country.

  • September 15, 1975

    U.S. Embassy London telegram 14177 to State Department, 'French-U.S. Consultations on Nuclear Suppliers Meeting'

    Telegram illuminates the U.S. –French dialogue over safeguards and other provisions in the nuclear suppliers’ guidance. Arguing that full-scope safeguards was “alien to [their] philosophy,” the French suggested that a “traditional interpretation of the contamination principle (i.e., requiring safeguards on any materials produced in exported facilities),” would make it possible to achieve “the practical equivalent” of the Canadian proposal.

  • September 23, 1975

    Memorandum from George S. Vest to Secretary of State, 'September 16-17 Nuclear Suppliers' Meeting'

    The September 1975 meeting of the suppliers’ group brought out a conflict over a decisive issue, whether supplying countries should require recipient countries to place all nuclear facilities under safeguards or require them only for the technology and supplies at issue in the contract (“project safeguards”). The Canadians strongly supported the former, “full scope safeguards” (their terminology, which caught on), which the French saw as “tantamount to imposing NPT obligations” --a reference to the Treaty’s Article III--which they would not accept.

  • October 10, 1975

    George Vest to Mr. Sonnenfeldt, 'British Comprehensive Safeguards Initiative re Suppliers Conference'

    This document describes the differing views regarding safeguards. The Canadians strongly supported the former, “full scope safeguards” (their terminology, which caught on), which the French saw as “tantamount to imposing NPT obligations”--a reference to the Treaty’s Article III--which they would not accept. Arguing that full-scope safeguards was “alien to [their] philosophy,” the French suggested that a “traditional interpretation of the contamination principle (i.e., requiring safeguards on any materials produced in exported facilities),” would make it possible to achieve “the practical equivalent” of the Canadian proposal.

  • October 15, 1975

    Briefing Paper, 'Nuclear Suppliers Conference,' Secretary's Trip to Ottawa

    This document describes Canada's position on safeguards as well as the United State's position and how the U.S. will respond to Canada. The Canadians strongly supported the former, “full scope safeguards," and although Washington had included the substance of full-scope safeguards in the original five-point paper but Kissinger would not go against the French and risk the hard-won understanding that had brought them into the group.