Washington, D.C., September 21, 2023 – The Reagan administration rejected an international agreement on humanitarian laws of war—Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions—due to insurmountable objections from the Pentagon and the belief that it favored terrorists, according to a collection of declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
<p>Weapons of Mass Destruction added 2017-10-31</p>
Washington, D.C., June 6, 2023 - U.S. officials and NATO allies feared that international talks meant to strengthen the protection of civilians during conflicts could lead to a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, according to a September 1975 memorandum by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff posted today by the National Security Archive. Published as part of a new Electronic Briefing Book on the negotiations that produced Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the Defense Department memo reveals some of the concerns that underlay the initial U.S.
Washington, D.C., March 20, 2023 – The declassified Air Force film shows the crew of a U.S. B-52 bomber reaching its “Positive Control” (“fail safe”) point on the way to its target in the Soviet Union. But instead of turning around as usual, they get an order to proceed to their assigned objective. Having received and authenticated a “Go Code” message from U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC), the pilot announces, “We’re going in,” navigating the aircraft in low over mountains, lakes, fields, and forests to avoid Soviet air defenses.
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.
From History to Poetry: Mai Der Vang Explores the Archival Record in Her Celebrated Volume "Yellow Rain"
Washington, D.C., June 27, 2022 – In a remarkable example of transforming the mundane into high art, poet Mai Der Vang, daughter of Hmong refugees and finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, pored through thousands of pages of declassified documents from the collections of the National Security Archive and other sources to find material for her poems, whose purpose is to record and vivify the trauma experienced by the Hmong people during the Secret War in Laos of the 1960s and 1970s.
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., February 26, 2019 – Prior U.S. administrations from both political parties wrestled intensively with complex security, economic, and diplomatic challenges in trying to rein in successive North Korean dictators’ nuclear ambitions, a review of declassified documentation makes clear. Today, the National Security Archive at The George Washington University presents an array of records from the Nixon, Bush 41, and Clinton administrations that describe the many concerns and tests that have confronted U.S. policymakers and negotiators alike.
Washington, D.C. - Almost a year after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bush administration faces growing skepticism over its claim that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs posed a gathering threat to the United States. The continued failure of Coalition forces to locate a single biological, chemical or nuclear weapon has called into question the original premise for the war.
Twenty years ago, on December 20, 1983, Donald Rumsfeld, currently the U.S. Secretary of Defense, met with Saddam Hussein during the first of Rumsfeld's two now-famous visits to Baghdad. At the time, the United States was courting Iraq as a buffer to the greater threat the Reagan administration perceived in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As has now been widely reported, the U.S. had already been providing the Iraqi regime with intelligence and other support in its war with Iran. Within a year of Rumsfeld's first visit, Baghdad and Washington had re-established diplomatic relations.
Between Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, and the commencement of military action in January 1991, then President George H.W. Bush raised the specter of the Iraqi pursuit of nuclear weapons as one justification for taking decisive action against Iraq. In the then-classified National Security Directive 54, signed on January 15, 1991, authorizing the use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait, he identified Iraqi use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against allied forces as an action that would lead the U.S. to seek the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.