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.
Nuclear Strategy and Weapons
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*
Washington, D.C., December 10, 2021 – As the United States engages in strategic stability talks with Russia and seeks similar talks with China, it is worth looking back to the origins of the concept and its early usage in the late 1950s and 1960s. Today, the National Security Archive posts selected White House and other high-level records that speak to “strategic stability’s” past – and continuing – impact on evaluations of new strategic systems and the risks of escalating the nuclear arms race.
Washington, D.C., October 14, 2021 – The Pentagon’s plan for a trillion-dollar spending program to build new ICBMs, submarines, and bombers has met pushback from critics in and out of Congress who worry about excessive military spending. Some argue that ICBMs are destabilizing and that fewer land-based missiles and bombers and continued investment in submarine-launched ballistic missiles would reduce the U.S.’s vulnerability to nuclear attack.
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 28, 2021 – “The United States came fairly close to using tactical nuclear weapons” during the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1958, according to a secret 1966 RAND summary report posted today for the first time by the National Security Archive. Washington contemplated this extreme response to anticipated Chinese aggression “despite opposition to its policy by most of its allies and many in the United States,” the report notes.
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., April 8, 2021 – The United States and its European allies disagreed over the advisability of using nuclear weapons to signal resolve and deter war if a serious crisis with Moscow over West Berlin broke out, according to a review of declassified records posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive.
Washington D.C., May 26, 2021 – “The United States came fairly close to using tactical nuclear weapons” during the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1958, according to a top-secret 1966 RAND summary report posted today for the first time by the National Security Archive. Washington contemplated this extreme response to anticipated Chinese aggression “despite opposition to its policy by most of its allies and many in the United States,” the report notes.