To mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the National Security Archive is updating and reposting one of its most popular e-books of the past 25 years.
Nuclear Strategy and Weapons
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 16, 2014 – Fifty years ago today, on 16 October 1964, the People's Republic of China (PRC) joined the nuclear club when it tested a nuclear device at its Lop Nur test site in Inner Mongolia. For several years, U.S. intelligence had been monitoring Chinese developments, often with anxiety, hampered by the lack of adequate sources. Early on, opinions within the U.S.
Overkill, Assured Destruction, and the Search for Nuclear Alternatives: U.S. Nuclear Forces During the Cold War
Washington, D.C., May 22, 2020 – Seventy-five years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the start of the atomic era, questions about the value, danger, and morality of nuclear weapons continue to present a huge challenge for politicians, military strategists, and ordinary citizens.
Starting to Crack a Hard Target: U.S. Intelligence Efforts against the Soviet Missile Program through 1957
Washington, D.C., February 5, 2020 – In the eyes of U.S. intelligence and the military services, the greatest threat to American national security during the early Cold War was the emerging Soviet missile program with its ability to deliver nuclear weapons to targets across the United States. Before the era of satellite surveillance, the U.S.
Washington D.C., January 22, 2020 - On 24 February 1972 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird’s inbox included a Joint Chiefs of Staff message concerning the ongoing efforts by military planners to develop a “Communist Chinese Nuclear Package” for the Single Integrated Operational Plan, the Pentagon’s nuclear war plan. Laird’s office was mistakenly included in the message’s routing.
Washington, D.C., November 20, 2019 – In the late 1950s, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles worried about the hit to America’s global political standing if the U.S. stationed nuclear weapons, some of which were huge, in South Korea while senior Defense Department officials pointed to the fiscal benefits of these deployments, according to declassified records posted today by the National Security Archive. Dulles, who had presided over U.S.
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., 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.
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.