Skip to content

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)

Popular Documents

October 8, 1963

Letter from Gomulka to Khrushchev, Marked 'Final Version'

Letter from Gomulka to Khrushchev discussing Polish opposition to Soviet proposal for a Non-Proliferation Treaty. Gomulka suggests that the treaty will further split the communist camp. While discussing the state of Sino-Soviet relations, the Polish leader suggests that the Soviet Union and the PRC adopt a common position in matters of foreign policy in order to strengthen the power of the Socialist camp.

July 1991

National Intelligence Estimate, NIE 5-91C, 'Prospects for Special Weapons Proliferation and Control'

With the term “weapons of mass destruction” having not yet fully come into general usage, this NIE used the term “special weapons” to describe nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons (formerly the term “special weapons” was sometimes used to describe nuclear weapons only). With numerous excisions, including the names of some countries in the sections on “East Asia and the Pacific” and “Central America,” this wide-ranging estimate provides broad-brushed, sometimes superficial, pictures of the situations in numerous countries along with coverage of international controls to halt sensitive technology exports to suspect countries.

July 1982

National Intelligence Estimate, NIE-4-82, 'Nuclear Proliferation Trends Through 1987'

With proliferation becoming a “greater threat to US interests over the next five years,” intelligence analysts believed that the “disruptive aspect of the proliferation phenomenon will constitute the greater threat to the United States.” While the estimators saw “low potential” for terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons, the likelihood of terrorist/extortionist hoaxes was on the upswing. Significant portions of the NIE are excised, especially the estimate of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and its impact in the Middle East. Nevertheless, much information remains on the countries of greatest concern: Iraq and Libya in the Near East, India and Pakistan in South Asia, Brazil and Argentina in Latin America, and the Republic of South Africa, as well as those of lesser concern: Iran, Egypt, Taiwan and the two Koreas.

June 23, 1963

National Intelligence Estimate NIE 4-63, 'Likelihood and Consequences of a Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Systems'

This NIE comes to the general conclusions that “there will not be a widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons over the next 10 years” and discusses programs in various countries (Israel, China, Sweden, India, West Germany, Japan, etc.) This copy includes newly declassified references to the Israeli nuclear weapons program, including the conclusion that “the Israelis, unless deterred by outside pressure, will attempt to produce a nuclear weapon some time in the next several years.”

December 10, 1995

State Department Telegram 28705 to US Embassy in India, 'Arrange Wisner-Varma Meeting on Testing Issue'

Telegram instructing the Charges d'Affairs to arrange an urgent meeting between the United States Ambassador to India and the Indian Prime Minister's Pricipal Secretary to discuss American concerns that India will launch a nuclear test. The State Department was ready for a demarche to the Indian government to express “grave concerns” about the possibility of a test.