Washington, D.C., March 28, 2022 – Russia’s increasingly grueling invasion of Ukraine has given rise to chilling talk over whether the conflict might go nuclear, reminding the world that atomic weapons and their political and military importance remain a critically relevant public issue. A recent Washington Post article explored the weapon the West would be likely to turn to first – either for its political or military value – if and when the NATO alliance begins deliberating over a nuclear response. That weapon is the B61 bomb, which the U.S.
Washington D.C., July 16, 2021 - The United Kingdom in the 1970s and 1980s aspired to improve its nuclear weapons capability to bomb Soviet targets, including major cities, without having to depend on the United States, according to documents obtained and posted today by the National Security Archive. British officials had a variety of motives for seeking advanced modern submarine-launched ballistic missiles, from retaining their status as a nuclear power, to uncertainty about American reliability down the road, to a desire to stay ahead of their continental rivals the Fre
Washington, D.C., May 13, 2021—British leaders were determined to become a nuclear power after World War II in part so they could have a “seat at the top table” of international negotiations, according to a 1965 State Department intelligence report published today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive. London also wanted to be able to present its own “independent” deterrent to the Soviet Union to mitigate its reliance on U.S. forces, records show.
Washington, D.C., February 17, 2021 – “What might have happened that day in November 1983 if we had begun a precautionary generation of forces” against a Soviet alert in response to the Able Archer 83 NATO nuclear release exercise? This is the question Lieutenant General Leonard H. Perroots asked in his January 1989 End of Tour Report Addendum published this week in the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States series, edited by Elizabeth C. Charles.
Washington, D.C., September 16, 2020 – The NATO nuclear stockpile arrangements that have persisted since the Cold War were initially negotiated during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, facilitating the controversial nuclear sharing arrangements with the allies. The deployments, begun in part as a deterrent against East-West conflict, involved the assignment of hundreds and then thousands of nuclear weapons, and currently some 150 weapons, to NATO allies.
Recent debates over U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles in Western Europe make it worth looking at how those forces got there in the first place. In the 1950s, when fear of Soviet military power was at its height, NATO allies like Italy and West Germany were remarkably compliant to U.S. wishes regarding the storage of nuclear weapons on their soil – and ultimately their potential use in a European war – according to newly released State Department and Defense Department records posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive. The governments in Bonn and Rome made no objections when Washington came calling and did not even pose questions about when or how the weapons might be used.
Washington, D.C., October 30, 2019 – The current crisis with Turkey over Syria has raised questions, yet to be resolved, about the security of 50 U.S. nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik Air Base. These questions have been posed before, going back almost to the start of nuclear deployments in Turkey in 1959. How the United States responds carries implications for the region, for U.S.-Turkey relations, and for NATO.
Washington, D.C., December 11, 2018 – In the Fall of 1966, as part of an ongoing debate about the U.S. troop presence in Western Europe and the role of NATO during the Cold War, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara sent an illuminating memo to President Lyndon B. Johnson to explain the political reasons for keeping U.S.
Washington, D.C., November 5, 2018 – Beginning in 1981, the KGB’s “main objective” became “not to miss the military preparations of the enemy, its preparations for a nuclear strike, and not to miss the real risk of the outbreak of war,” according to the text of a previously secret speech by then-KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov found in the Ukrainian KGB archives and published today by the National Security Archive.
Washington, D.C., October 2, 2018 – President Bill Clinton saw Russian leader Boris Yeltsin as indispensable for promoting American interests following the collapse of the Soviet Union, often prompting him to take controversial steps to ensure Yeltsin’s political survival, according to top-level memoranda of conversation just released from the Clinton presidential library.