Washington, D.C., November 18, 2022 - A top safety official at a U.S. nuclear weapons lab wrote that “the public must be encouraged to realize that risks [of an unintentional nuclear detonation] cannot be zero and cannot ever be really known,” according to a newly released 2001 history of U.S. efforts to mitigate the dangers of accidental or unsanctioned weapons detonations. Declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the National Security Archive, the history, written by former Sandia National Laboratories official William L.
Nuclear Strategy and Weapons
Washington D.C., October 17, 2022 - In a secret “eyes only” memorandum for John F. Kennedy, written 60 years ago today at the outset of the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson admonished the president to abandon his initial plan to attack Cuba and to consider, instead, the diplomatic option of dismantling U.S. missile bases in Europe in return for the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles in Cuba.
Washington, D.C., October 14, 2022 - Today the National Security Archive publishes for the first time in any language a translation of the first meeting between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Cuban Defense Minister Raul Castro on July 18, 1960. The newly available transcript helps explain Khrushchev’s 1962 determination that defending Cuba from U.S. intervention would require a massive Soviet military base in Cuba, together with the deployment of nuclear weapons.
Washington, D.C., August 8, 2022 – After years of research and planning, U.S. officials and scientists overseeing the Manhattan Project were startlingly unprepared for the emergence of evidence of the long-term effects of radiation generated by the atomic bomb – even after the Trinity test in July 1945 and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 77 years ago this week, according to documents posted today by the National Security Archive.
Long-Classified U.S. Estimates of Nuclear War Casualties During the Cold War Regularly Underestimated Deaths and Destruction
Washington, D.C., July 14, 2022 – For decades starting in the late 1940s, influential internal U.S. government analyses provided civilian and military leaders with staggering estimates of likely casualties in a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union, but the sheer scale of those projected fatalities kept the reports classified until after the end of the Cold War.
Washington, D.C., May 29, 2012 - A secret exercise in 1986 by a U.S. government counter-terrorist unit uncovered a host of potential problems associated with disrupting a nuclear terrorist plot in the United States. Declassified documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and posted today by the National Security Archive offer the first detailed public look at the inner workings of the agencies, military units and other U.S. entities responsible for protecting the country from a terrorist nuclear attack.
Washington, D.C., June 2, 2022 – The apocalyptic threats emanating from Moscow over the Ukraine war raise the terrible prospect of nuclear weapons use. The probabilities may be low, but if a major nuclear war occurred, the catastrophic impact of a so-called nuclear winter could be felt on a global scale.
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., March 24, 2022 – At four in the morning on 3 October 1979, Colonel William Odom, military assistant to national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, received a phone call from the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center informing him that an Air Force missile warning system had detected a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launch off the coast of Oregon. As it turned out, the situation was far from dangerous, but Odom had found it alarming.
CIA U-2 Collection of Signals Intelligence, 1956-1960
By James E. David*