30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Nuclear Strategy and Weapons

Sep 9, 2019 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., September 9, 2019 – Seventy years ago, on 9 September 1949, Director of Central Intelligence Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter handed President Harry Truman a carefully worded report of “an abnormal radio-active contamination" in the Northern Pacific that greatly exceeded normal levels in the atmosphere.  While uncertain as to the cause, the DCI’s first hypothesis was “An atomic explosion on the continent of Asia.”  This proved to be accurate – it was the first Soviet test of a nuclear device.

Jun 11, 2019 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., June 11, 2019 – “Launch-on-warning,” a feature of U.S. nuclear warfighting strategy since the late 1970s, has frequently faced intensive criticism because of the high risk of accidental launches and uncontrollable outcomes, including massive casualties, according to recently declassified records posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive.

May 2, 2019 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., May 2, 2019 - During 1963, President John F. Kennedy was preoccupied with issues such as Vietnam, the nuclear test ban negotiations, civil rights protests, and Cuba. It is less well known, however, that one of his most abiding concerns was whether and how fast Israel was seeking a nuclear weapons capability and what the U.S. should do about it. Beginning in April 1963, Kennedy insisted that the Israeli leadership accept regular bi-annual U.S. inspections, or in diplomatic language, “visits,” of Israel’s nuclear complex at Dimona in the Negev Desert.

Mar 13, 2019 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., March 12, 2019 - Last month’s posting by Robert S. Hopkins on “How the Strategic Air Command Would Have Gone to Nuclear War” provided incredible detail on SAC procedures during the 1960s. Strategic Air Command veteran Bruce Blair takes the story in to the 1970s, with an extraordinary account, based on personal experience, of how SAC would have carried out its nuclear mission if deterrence failed.

Feb 25, 2019 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., March 13, 2019 - Last month’s posting by Robert S. Hopkins on “How the Strategic Air Command Would Have Gone to Nuclear War” provided incredible detail on SAC procedures during the 1960s. Strategic Air Command veteran Bruce Blair takes the story in to the 1970s, with an extraordinary account, based on personal experience, of how SAC would have carried out its nuclear mission if deterrence failed.

Nov 5, 2018 | Briefing Book
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.

Aug 15, 2018 | Briefing Book
U.S. nuclear war plans during the Johnson administration included the option of a retaliatory strike against nuclear, conventional military, and urban-industrial targets with the purpose of removing the Soviet Union “from the category of a major industrial power” and destroying it as a “viable” society.  This is one disclosure from a Joint Staff review of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) obtained via a Mandatory Declassification Review request by the George Washington University-based National Security Archive and posted on our site today.

Jul 9, 2018 | Briefing Book
Online blustering about nuclear “buttons” has brought new attention to the issue of presidential control over nuclear weapons, and to the special satchel or “Football” of emergency and nuclear planning information carried by White House military aides when the President is traveling.  Declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive describe the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson arrangements for the “Football”; and the posting includes newly discovered White House photographs of six recent Presidents with military aides and the Football nearby.

Apr 6, 2018 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., April 6, 2018 – Secret CIA interviews with East bloc scientists and technicians in the mid-1950s yielded invaluable insights into Soviet nuclear capabilities, according to recently declassified intelligence records posted today by the George Washington University-based National Security Archive. 

Jan 11, 2018 | News
Washington, D.C., January 11, 2018 - A new book by long-time colleagues of the National Security Archive, James G. Blight and janet M. Lang, offers a fresh exploration of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and plumbs its lessons on the continuing dangers of nuclear war.

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