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Nuclear Non-Proliferation, 1945-1990

Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the U.S. has wrestled with the issue of controlling the spread of nuclear weapons. The U.S. military imperatives of preventing other countries from developing the ultimate weapon have conflicted with the political, economic, and commercial potential of selectively sharing its nuclear secrets. In past years, rumors and revelations of atomic testing in South Africa, Israel, India, and other nations have heightened fears over the consequences of nuclear proliferation. Most recently, exposure of Iraq's nuclear capabilities has led the non-proliferation community to reassess the impact of the U.S. government's policies throughout the nuclear age.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation, 1945-1990 provides a comprehensive documentary record of U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the recent IAEA inspections of Iraq's nuclear program.

Over 2,700 documents, totaling approximately 14,000 pages, offer researchers the most complete collection of primary documents related to U.S. non-proliferation policy available anywhere. Recently declassified and unclassified government documents--publis hed here for the first time--provide scholars with immediate access to the historical record from three policymaking periods:

During the first part of this period, the focus of U.S. policy was on international control of atomic energy. Later, the U.S. maintained its western monopoly through strict secrecy, refusing to share the technology even with its closest allies.

President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program ushered in the second period during which the U.S. aided the nearly unrestricted development of nuclear energy programs in other nations. The quid pro quo was a promise that those nations would use nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes. This period ended abruptly with India's so-called peaceful nuclear explosion of an atomic device in April 1974--and the realization that the U.S. had provided the material necessary to conduct the test.

The post "Atoms for Peace" era is still evolving. Users of the collection will find documents illustrating the conflict between policy priorities driven by foreign policy and trade considerations and those governed by the obligations established under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968.

Sample Index Entry

Index: United States. Department of State--does not believe that Pakistan--possesses Nuclear devices-- although the Kahuta Uranium Enrichment Plant (Pakistan)--is capable of producing Uranium--which can be used for Nuclear weapons production

Sample Catalog Entry

(01010) 1986/07/18
Official Visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Mohammad Khan
Secret Memorandum 9 pp.
Origin: United States Department of State
To: Kissinger, Henry
Lines with excisions: 0
Index: United States. Department of State--does not believe that Pakistan--possesses Nuclear devices-- although the Kahuta Uranium Enrichment Plant (Pakistan)--is capable of producing Uranium--which can be used for Nuclear weapons production

Sample Document

In the Guide and Index, the nine-page memorandum to Dr. Kissinger receives a full catalog entry, three subject sentences, and eight index terms, detail typical of Archive indexing standards.

Research Value of the Collection

Researchers will find that Nuclear Non-Proliferation, 1945-1990:

Presents a unique and comprehensive compilation of information from the first atomic test in 1945 to the recent investigations of U.S. exports of dual-capable technology to India, Pakistan, Israel, and South Africa.

Provides the basis for all future inquiry into the evolution of U.S. non-proliferation policy as well as current policy.

Contains some of the earliest previously classified U.S. government assessments of the capability of de facto nuclear weapons states and declaratory statements of U.S. non-proliferation policy towards those countries.

Documents the changes and growth of the U.S.-Soviet non-proliferation relationship in one of the earliest spheres of cooperation between the superpowers.

Establishes a starting point for scholarly research on a variety of related topics in international security.

Establishes the link between alliance relationships and the spread of nuclear weapons capability.

Examines the connection between exporting technology for developing nuclear energy and exporting nuclear weapons technology.

Praise for Nuclear Non-Proliferation, 1945-1990

"I have devoted several years to research on the history of the negotiation of the NPT--using presidential library materials and Freedom of Information Act requests. Neither the libraries' nor the government's responses to my requests produced as many useful documents as are in the National Security Archive's Nuclear Non-Proliferation collection. This collection is a gold mine for scholars interested in how the NPT was negotiated."

George Bunn
Center for International Security and Arms Control
Stanford University

"An essential new source of information that will be invaluable to students of U.S. government efforts to curb the spread of nuclear arms."

Leonard S. Spector
Director, Non-Proliferation Project and
Senior Associate
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Sample Document Titles

12/21 /90
Iraq and Nuclear Weapons, Congressional Research Service, Unclassified Issue Brief

Bhutto Welcomes Pakistan Missile Tests, U.S. Embassy, Pakistan, Secret Cable

01 /17/89
What It Took to Get the Germans to Move on Strengthening Controls in Sensitive Exports to the Third World, U.S. Embassy, Germany, Secret Cable

Israel Nuclear Program--Background and Talking Points, Department of State, Secret Briefing Paper

11 /16/85
Alleged Pakistani Nuclear Test in China, Department of State, Secret Cable

Reported Deal with the U.S. to Save Bhutto and Stop Nuclear Program, U.S. Embassy, Pakistan, Confidential Cable

The International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation Program, INCE, Confidential Internal Paper

ROK Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plans, Department of State, Secret Cable

07/21 /75
Pakistan Request for Heavy Water, Department of State, Confidential Cable

Assessment of Indian Nuclear Test, U.S. Mission to NATO, Secret Internal Paper

Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, CIA, Secret Memorandum

Heavy Water Financing under AID Loan 153, U.S. Embassy, Pakistan, Unclassified Cable

The Atomic Energy Commission Has No Objections to the Dispersal of Nuclear Weapons, as Long as Security Considerations Are Met, U .S. AEC, Confidential Letter

French Denial of Complicity in Helping Israel Carry Out Its Nuclear Program, U.S. Embassy, France, For Official Use Only Cable

French Concerns over Nuclear Weapons, White House, Secret Memorandum of Conversation

Nuclear Weapons Are Becoming an Issue in the German Elections, U.S. Embassy, Germany, Secret Cable

Proposal for Creating an International Pool of Fissionable Material, Executive Office of the President, Top Secret Memorandum

JCS Recommendation on How to Safeguard Scientific Knowledge about the Atomic Bomb, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Top Secret Memorandum



Nuclear Non-Proliferation, 1945-1990
Virginia Foran, Editor


Reproduces on microfiche approximately 2,700 documents totaling over 14,000 pages recording U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy from 1945 to 1990.


Microfiche are arranged chronologically. For ease of use, the unique identification numbers assigned to documents are printed in eye-legible type at the top right hand corner and precede each document on the microfiche strip.


Documents are reproduced on silver halide positive-reading microfiche at a nominal reduction of 24x in envelopes. They are archivally permanent and conform to AIIM, BSI and ANSI standards. Any microfiche found to be physically substandard will be replaced free of charge.


A printed guide and index totaling approximately 2,000 pages accompanies the microfiche collection. The Guide contains an events chronology, glossaries of names, organizations, events, legal and technical terms, and acronyms, a bibliography of secondary sources, and a chronological listing of documents. The Index provides in-depth, document-level access to subjects, individuals, and organizations.

Date of Publication:

Spring 1992

Orders and Inquiries

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Advisory and Editorial Board

Dr. Peter Clausen (in memoriam, 1944-1991), Director of Research, Union of Concerned Scientists

Dr. Zachary Davis, Analyst, Energy and Natural Resources Division, Congressional Research Service

Warren Donnelly, Senior Specialist, Energy and Natural Resources Division, Congressional Research Service

Dr. Lawrence Scheinman, Professor, Peace Studies Program, Cornell University

Leonard Spector, Director, Non-Proliferation Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Professor Gary Milhollin Director, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control

The National Security Archive Nuclear Non-Proliferation Project Staff

Virginia Foran, Project Editor
Joshua Winchester, Research Assistant
Jonathan Weinstein, Research Assistant
Lisa Evanson, Research Assistant
Jung S. Chon, Project Intern
Roslind Reynolds, Project Intern
Ann Herpel, Analyst
Craig Keller, Analyst

Return to National Security Archive Microfiche Sets.