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French Nuclear History

 Documents on the history of French nuclear development, focusing on secret technical assistance provided by the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. See also Nuclear Proliferation, and the related collections in the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, Kissinger, Schlesinger, and Galle, 1975, US Office of the Historian, Office of Secretary of Defense)

Popular Documents

September 5, 1973

Memorandum of Conversation—Kissinger and Schlesinger

Kissinger and Schlesinger discuss possible concessions to France in light of potential changes in their government. Other topics of discussion include foreign relations with the Middle East, MIRV, and security in Europe.

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.

July 26, 1973

Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, 'Supplementary Checklist for Meeting with French Defense Minister'

When meeting with the French Defense Minister Kissinger is to stress how much the U.S. has supported France despite negative views on such assistance by European countries and by Congress, and that this president could not be more sympathetic to French needs. The NSSM 175 review of the policy towards France is attached, and it reviews previous aid given to France, complications that arouse due to restrictions on such aid, and what the French are now requesting. It extensively reviews missile assistance, nuclear safety exchanges, and other French aid issues. The second part addresses the issue in light of U.S.-European political relations, and the effect any such aid might have on such relations. It notes that future French aid might be given to hardening technologies, and to aiding in Poseidon information, and to underground nuclear testing, and it weighs the pros and cons in the eyes of the British. It concludes with an overview of how such aid could be in the interest (or not) of the U.S., but several parts of the last part of this document are blacked-out, marked for secrecy.

December 1970

Report of the National Security Council Staff, 'NSSM 100 – Military Cooperation with France (Analytical Summary)'

A summary and critical commentary on National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 100, an issue paper on potential US military aid to France's ballistic missile program. The report describes the specific French requests for assistance, current US policy restricting such assistance, and outlines options for future cooperation. The options are subdivided into three "approaches" based on the actors involved: 1) Bilateral US-French approaches, 2) NATO-oriented approaches, 3) Anglo-French or European-oriented approaches.

February 11, 1949

Confidential Letter from Homi J. Bhabha to Frédéric Joliot-Curie

Homi Bhabha, Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, informs Joliot-Curie, French High Commissioner for Atomic Energy, that the Indian government has decided to set up a factory for processing monazite and has selected a French firm to develop the factory.