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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • October 27, 1954

    Memorandum of Conversation with British, French, and German Embassy Officials, 'German Atomic Energy Program'

    In this meeting, Werner Heisenberg, a key figure in Nazi Germany’s atomic bomb project, reaffirmed the West German commitment not to manufacture atomic weapons to a group of U.S., British, and French officials in Washington.

  • 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

  • August 12, 1957

    Letter from Max Isenbergh, Special Assistant for Atomic Energy, to Robert Schaetzel, Office of Special Assistant to Secretary of State for Atomic Energy, enclosing 'Franco-German Coordination of Advanced Weapons Research, Development, and Production'

    During the summer of 1957, diplomats in London and Washington were becoming uneasy as they learned that France and West Germany were setting up formal arrangements to cooperate in the development of advanced weapons systems.

  • 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.

  • June 27, 1958

    Polish Special Report on German Military Reorganization

    Chief of General Staff Gregorz Korczynski reports on the Bundestag's decision to allow the Bundeswehr to acquire atomic bombs and missiles and describes the appropriate next steps to take.

  • February 18, 1960

    Hugh S. Cuming, Director, Office of Intelligence and Research, to Secretary of State, 'Growing Revelation of West German Interest in Nuclear Striking Force in Europe'

    This State Department intelligence report touched upon a key issue for West German policy: a desire to upgrade West Germany’s nuclear role without putting it in control of nuclear weapons. According to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), the West Germans faced a “dilemma” because of the development of Soviet strategic missile capabilities.

  • 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.

  • May 06, 1961

    State Department Telegram 5245 to US Embassy United Kingdom, forwarding message from President Kennedy to Prime Minister Macmillan

    In this telegram, President Kennedy expresses doubts about aiding the French nuclear program to British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. He maintained that such an action would shake NATO and signify a "major reversal" in U.S. opposition to "Nth country programs,"subsequently increasing Germany's desire to acquire nuclear weapons.

  • August 03, 1961

    Walter Ulbricht's Speech at the Moscow Conference, 3-5 August 1961

    Ulbricht speaks at the Moscow Conference of Secretaries of the Central Committees of the Communist and Workers' Parties of Socialist Countries for the Exchange of Opinions on Questions Concerning the Preparation and Conclusion of a German Peace Treaty.

  • November 20, 1961

    Central Intelligence Agency, Information Report Telegram, 'Foreign Policy Aims of Strauss, Schroeder and some FDP Leaders'

    In the weeks following the November 1961 West German federal elections when a new cabinet formed, CIA sources in Bonn provided information on the thinking of the group of “Young Turks” in Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s cabinet that included Defense Minister Franz-Joseph Strauss and Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroeder.

  • November 21, 1961

    Memorandum of Conversation, Private Conversations Between the President and Chancellor Adenauer, 'Germany'

    The ongoing crisis over West Berlin brought Adenauer to Washington for talks on strategy, diplomacy, and contingency planning. During this discussion, Kennedy wanted to determine where the Chancellor stood on the nuclear questions, specifically whether his government would continue to observe the 1954 declaration renouncing the production of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

  • 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.”

  • February 21, 1962

    Research Memorandum RSB-58 from Roger Hilsman to the Secretary, 'Probable Soviet Reaction to Establishment of Multilateral NATO-Controlled MRBM Force'

    As discussion of a NATO multilateral force (MLF) unfolded, unfolded, one question which had to be addressed was how the Soviet Union would respond to the creation of such a NATO force. Because a NATO force would increase Western military capabilities, Soviet opposition was assumed.

  • 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 04, 1962

    Research Memorandum RSB-152 from Roger Hilsman to the Secretary, 'Soviet Tactics in Talks on the Non-Diffusion of Nuclear Weapons'

    Before the words “nuclear nonproliferation” entered official discourse, the term “non-diffusion” (or “non-dissemination”) of nuclear weapons was used routinely. In part stemming from the negotiations over Berlin, during 1962-1963 the Kennedy administration held talks with allies and adversaries on the possibility of a non-diffusion agreement which included Germany. In light of a recent Soviet proposal, INR veteran Soviet expert Sonnenfeldt explained why Moscow had moved away from earlier proposals singling out West Germany and was focusing on the general applicability of a non-diffusion agreement.

  • 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.

  • November 27, 1962

    Secretary of State to the President, 'Agreement on Non-Diffusion of Nuclear Weapons,' with Enclosures and Cover Memorandum from McGeorge Bundy

    In this proposed agreement, Secretary of State Rusk asked the White House for authorization to approach the Soviets. Rusk had two central goals in mind: to determine if the Soviets would state whether its allies, such as China, would agree to a nonproliferation agreement and to give Moscow a “somewhat more precise indication of what we have in mind concerning the obligation not to transfer nuclear weapons.”

  • 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.”

  • March 27, 1963

    President Kennedy to Honorable William Tyler [Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs] and Honorable Paul Nitze [Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs]

    In a memorandum to senior officials at the Departments of Defense and State, President Kennedy expressed doubts over whether West Germany would abide by the non-nuclear weapons commitment that West German Chancellor Adenauer had made in 1954. Also mentioned in the memorandum is Kennedy's description of a meeting with West German defense minister Kai-Uwe von Hassell to discuss these concerns; von Hassell assured the President that West Germany would not go on any "nuclear adventures."