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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • June 15, 1947

    New York Herald Tribune, European edition, 'Joliot-Curie Rips America for Atomic Energy Report'

    French High Commissioner for Atomic Energy, Joliot-Curie, criticizes Henry DeWolf Smyth of Princeton University for omitting from his report the “vital contributions of French science to the discoveries leading to the making of atomic bombs.”

  • October 21, 1956

    Proposal of the Euratom Experts Concerning the Dissemination of Military Knowledge

    This proposal from the French delegation describes the potential military uses for atomic energy.

  • November 09, 1956

    Note by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Economic Cooperation

    This note describes panel discussions, which took place on the visit of Chancellor Adenauer to Paris, helping to reach an agreement on outstanding issues regarding Euratom.

  • February 21, 1957

    Telegram from Couve de Murville

  • March 23, 1957

    Memorandum of Conversation between John Foster Dulles and Selwyn Lloyd, 'Atomic Energy Items: (1) French Request (2) Test Limitation'

    US-UK discussion of French nuclear weapons potential and efforts that could be undertaken to hinder or advance the their program. The French request for technical assistance from these two governments was also covered.

  • May 31, 1957

    Department of State Office of Intelligence Research, 'OIR Contribution to NIE 100-6-57: Nuclear Weapons Production by Fourth Countries – Likelihood and Consequences'

    This lengthy report was State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research's contribution to the first National Intelligence Estimate on the nuclear proliferation, NIE 100-6-57. Written at a time when the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom were the only nuclear weapons states, the “Fourth Country” problem referred to the probability that some unspecified country, whether France or China, was likely to be the next nuclear weapons state. Enclosed with letter from Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Division of Research for USSR and Western Europe, to Roger Mateson, 4 June 1957, Secret

  • March 01, 1958

    US Embassy Paris Telegram 3600 to Department of State

    In this telegram, U.S. government officials were troubled by the possibility of shared nuclear weapons research in Western Europe. Jean Laloy, the French Foreign Ministry’s director of European affairs, confidentially shared his apprehensions with an Embassy official.

  • May 13, 1959

    Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Intelligence Information Brief No. 139, 'Disarmament Negotiations: The Fourth Power Problem: France'

    According to intelligence reports, the French were trying to acquire from US firms the diagnostic technology needed to measure a nuclear explosion. INR did not believe that France had identified a specific test site and noted that France was under pressure to hold a test somewhere other than North Africa; nevertheless it went ahead with one in Algeria in early 1960.

  • May 28, 1960

    Ministry of Defense Memorandum to the Minister of Defense Andreotti, 'Tripartite Military Agreement'

    A collection of progress reports from the sub-commissions of the Accordo Military Tripartito F-I-G of 1957, a military alliance between Italy, France, and Germany, summarizing achievements and future objectives regarding development of co-owned nuclear weapons.

  • August 24, 1960

    Memorandum of Conversation, 'Nuclear Sharing'

    Secretary of Defense Gates, Acting-Secretary of State Dillon and the Atomic Energy Commissions' McCone discuss nuclear sharing with France. The French had offered full cooperation and participation in NATO in return for US Polaris submarine-launched missiles (without warhead).

  • October 29, 1960

    General Staff of Defense (SMD) Report, 'NATO military problems. Ten-year plan'

    Report on France’s plan to establish a policy of autonomic thermonuclear dissuasion and an analysis of the negative effects such a plan would have, including weakening of the NATO shield and increased risk of nuclear attack on Western Europe.

  • May 08, 1961

    Department of State Cable 5245 to Embassy United Kingdom, Message from President Kennedy to Prime Minister Macmillan

    President Kennedy writes British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to discuss the implications for NATO and West German security if the US or UK assisted the French nuclear program.

  • January 31, 1962

    Research Memorandum REU-25 from Roger Hilsman to Mr. Kohler, 'European Attitudes on Independent Nuclear Capability'

    Concerns about the credibility of US nuclear deterrence generated Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Lauris Norstad’s proposal for a NATO-controlled medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) force. This lengthy report represented INR’s assessment of “present and future European interest in national or multinational nuclear weapons capabilities,” including the MRBM proposal, and the extent to which an “enhancement of NATO's nuclear role” could “deter national or multinational European nuclear weapons programs.”

  • March 01, 1962

    Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Foy Kohler, 'Secretary McNamara’s Views on Nuclear Sharing'

    Secretary of Defense McNamara and his Deputy Gilpatric discuss whether assisting the French with missile technology would advance their nuclear weapons program. They speculate that it will help indirectly, missile aid would reduce the cost of the French missile research program and those saving could be directed to warhead production.

  • March 09, 1962

    Memorandum of Telephone Message from Foy D. Kohler to Paul H. Nitze and Roswell L. Gilpatric

    Instructions for Roswell Gilpatric and Paul Nitze from Secretary of State Rusk for negotiations with the French. Among the topics which the US representatives should not discuss are missile sharing and a common Western nuclear force.

  • May 28, 1962

    Memorandum by Edward Biegel, Bureau of Western European Affairs, 'WE Answers to the Ball Questionnaire'

    Edward Biegel of the Bureau of Western European Affairs answers Undersecretary Ball's questions on French nuclear ambitions and Western European collective security. He makes the arguments against nuclear sharing, and also mentions the fact that a Baltimore Sun article likely alerted the Soviets to the fact that the US deployed tactical nuclear weapons on the German front.

  • July 25, 1962

    US Embassy West Germany Telegram 243 to State Department

    In this telegram, Embassy analysts in West Germany found that “at present there does not exist deliberate intention in Germany to embark on nuclear weapons program either alone or with French.”

  • September 19, 1962

    Ministry of Defence, 'Notes on Talks During the Minister of Defence’s Visit to the United States, September 1962, Nuclear Problems in Europe'

    In September 1962, British Defence Minister Peter Thorneycroft traveled to Washington for discussion on defense cooperation. During a flight with President Kennedy and Secretary of Defense McNamara, they discussed the French nuclear program and the possibility of French-German nuclear cooperation.

  • December 10, 1962

    US Embassy West Germany Telegram 1538 to State Department

    Following a similar telegram from 25 July 1962, this telegram noted French denials of any such discussion on French-German nuclear cooperation, but the Bonn Embassy agreed with the U.S. Embassy in France that the subject was “reserved for possible consideration in future.”

  • May 22, 1963

    Research Memorandum RFE-40 from Thomas L. Hughes to the Acting Secretary, 'A French Nuclear Testing Site in the Pacific? – Plans and Repercussions'

    France’s staging of atmospheric and underground tests in Algeria became increasingly untenable when neighboring African countries protested and even temporarily broke diplomatic relations with Paris. Once Algeria became independent in 1962, French authorities made plans to develop a test site in Polynesia.