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 15, 1975
Memorandum of Conversation, 'Visit of Secretary of State and Mrs. Kissinger to Canada; Luncheon at 24 Sussex Drive'
This memo contains a transcription of the conversation that took place when Secretary Kissinger and his wife visited Canada and had lunch with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, along with many other officials.
December 18, 1975
Memorandum to Holders of Special National Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 4-1-74: Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
This estimate updates the 1974 predictions, and analyzes the “earliest dates of the technical feasibility of possession of a nuclear device” of the Republic of China, Pakistan, South Africa, The Republic of Korea, Argentina and Brazil, among others.
December 31, 1975
Memorandum from George S. Springsteen, Executive Secretary, to National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, 'Nuclear Suppliers Guidelines'
This document comprises the instructions which the White House approved for the September 1975 suppliers’ meeting. At the November meeting, the suppliers completed negotiations on guidelines. Basic provisions included agreement to seek assurances by recipients of supplies not to produce nuclear explosive devices, physical security for installations and materials, transfer of trigger list items only under IAEA safeguards, restraint in transfer of sensitive technologies, facilities and materials, and the encouragement of supplier involvement in, and multinational controls over, sensitive installations. Appended to the guidelines was a two page “trigger list” based on the Zangger Committee’s list.
January 27, 1976
George Vest to the Secretary, 'Nuclear Suppliers Status Report'
In this document regarding the final agreement, George Vest wrote Kissinger that it “served to close many of the loopholes and inadequacies of previous nuclear cooperation agreements between suppliers and recipients.” It also put the French and West Germans on record to restrict access to sensitive nuclear technologies. Nevertheless, as Vest noted, the guidelines would not prevent “indigenous” development of nuclear capabilities and “unsafeguarded developments” or the acquisition of sensitive technology.
June 11, 1976
George Vest to the Secretary of State, 'London Nuclear Suppliers Meeting'
This document provides an overview of the London Nuclear Suppliers' Meeting which included the addition of the five newest countries to the original seven. Most old and new members were receptive when Washington lobbied them to support a “long term and stable regime of restraint” on the export of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technology. While the French were supportive of the moratorium proposal, the Germans were uncomfortable with it, not least because of the implications for their deal with Brazil.
November 12, 1976
London Embassy telegram 18324 to State Department, 'London Nuclear Suppliers’ Meeting, November 11 – 12'
This telegram describes what the nuclear suppliers' countries accomplished during their November 11-12 meeting. Continued discussions of safeguards and enlarging the group, and agreed that they would wait on publishing results until after their next meeting, which was scheduled to be the following March in London.
November 19, 1976
US Embassy Cable, Brazilian Public Reaction to US Nuclear Policies
The US Embassy in Brazil quotes a Brazilian ministry official who declares Brazil will continue its nuclear program “despite all the threats and reprisals” from the US. The unnamed official goes on to say, “The Americans, our allies, are behaving in a way worse than that of our common enemies, the Russians.”
January 31, 1977
Memorandum from Brazilian Foreign Minister Silveira to President Geisel on Jimmy Carter’s “Radical” Nuclear Stance
Brazilian Minister of State for External Relations, Antonio F. Azeredo da Silveira, comments on the recently elected Carter administration’s nuclear politics. Silveira’s message to President Geisel displays Brazilian frustration over American interference in its nuclear program and relations with Germany.
February 25, 1977
Memorandum from Brazilian Foreign Minister Silveira to President Geisel, US Threats and Promises and Brazilian Responses
This memo outlines “possible American approaches” and “possible Brazilian reactions” as the US attempts to compel the Brazilians and Germans to cease their nuclear cooperation.
March 21, 1977
Brazilian Embassy Cable, Brazilian Ambassador to Bonn Reports on Soviet Pressure on West Germany
The Brazilian Ambassador in Bonn reports on a Der Spiegel article, which states, “After the United States, it is now the Soviet Union’s turn to exert pressure for Bonn to revise its controversial atomic agreement with Brazil.” The article shows US-Soviet solidarity against Brazil and Germany’s cooperation in developing nuclear weapons.
May 03, 1977
State Department telegram to U.S. Embassy London et al., 'Nuclear Suppliers Meeting, April 28-29, 1977'
This document describes the meeting of 15 nuclear supplier states in London where issues were discussed such as full-scope safeguards, including sanctions in the guidelines, purpose of supplier consent, moratoriums, enlargement of membership, and various countries' individual concerns were voiced and addressed.
Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, Office of Scientific Intelligence, 'South African Uranium Enrichment Program'
With South Africa’s status as a pariah state, its nuclear program was a thorny problem for a series of U.S. presidents. In August 1977, the Carter administration, working with the Soviet Union, lodged protests against South Africa’s apparent preparations for a nuclear test, forcing a shut-down of the Kalahari test site if not the entire nuclear program itself. Indeed the CIA’s analysis of South Africa’s innovative “aerodynamic” uranium enrichment plant at Valindaba brought it to the conclusion that South Africa would be able to produce enough weapons-grade uranium “to make several nuclear devices per year.”
Report, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Special Projects Division, 'South Africa: Motivations and Capabilities for Nuclear Proliferation'
This report for the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) pointed to downsides of US and international pressures against pariah or otherwise beleaguered states such as South Africa and Israel and against would-be nuclear proliferants. They might cooperate to advance their goals.
September 15, 1977
State Department telegram 222114 to U.S. Embassy Paris, 'Nuclear Suppliers Meeting'
This document reflects that while full-scope safeguards had wide support in the group, both the French and the West German remained opposed. The Carter administration tried to persuade the French but they were worried about being "isolated" in the group and talked about withdrawing or opposing further meetings because the NSG had “fully achieved” its objectives. Washington persuaded Paris not to withdraw, but the group’s future was plainly uncertain.
September 23, 1977
State Department telegram 229507 to U.S. Embassy London et al., 'Nuclear Suppliers Meeting – Assessment'
This document describes the progress made up to that point and the various concerns of countries within the group regarding the scale of safeguards, particularly from the French and Germans. The NSG also agreed to make the guidelines available to the IAEA so that it could publish them. The State Department had been reluctant to publish them, not least because they did not include full scope safeguards, but overriding that was an interest in dispelling Third World concerns about a “secret cartel.”
May 17, 1978
Telegram No. 115, Embassy of Hungary in India to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry
Discussion with the chair of the Atomic Energy Commission of India, Homi Sethna. The United States is no longer supplying India with nuclear fuel or supporting its nuclear energy program, creating an opportunity for cooperation between Hungary and India.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Special Projects Division, 'Proliferation Group Quarterly Report, January – March 1978'
This issue includes an extract from a recent study on Pakistan and two highly technical articles relating to on-going research to identify the signatures of high explosives used for the implosion method of nuclear detonation. It also includes a report that utilized open literature and classified intelligence, including two satellite photographs, the purpose of the article is to illuminate how the South African Government intended to use the site, down to the depth and thickness of the bore holes.
Interagency Intelligence Memorandum, US Director of Central Intelligence, 'South Africa’s Nuclear Options and Decisionmaking Structure'
Memo reports that during the period the Carter administration was putting pressure on South Africa to avoid the nuclear weapons route, but the analysts suggested that even if the South Africans signed the NPT and accepted IEAE safeguards they would continue to pursue a “covert program.”
September 01, 1978
'Next Steps on Pakstani Reprocessing Issue,' US Embassy Paris cable 29233 to State Department
Summary of a meeting with French non-proliferation advisor Andre Jacoment. Discussion of the consequences of the French government's cancellation of a project to build a plutonium reprocessing plant at Chashma, Pakistan.