30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Nuclear Proliferation and Accidents

Oct 16, 2014 | Briefing Book
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.

Sep 12, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., September 12, 2014 – During the spring and summer of 1969, officials at the Pentagon, the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the White House debated and discussed the problem of the emergence of a nuclear Israel. Believing that Israel was moving very close to a nuclear weapons capability or even possession of actual weapons, the Nixon administration debated whether to apply pressure to restrain the Israelis or even delay delivery of advanced Phantom jets whose sale had already been approved.

Jun 9, 2014 | Briefing Book
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Safety Issues, 1957-1986 Washington, D.C., June 9, 2014 – A recently declassified report by Sandia National Laboratory, published today by the National Security Archive, provides new details on the 1961 Goldsboro, North Carolina, nuclear weapons accident. Both multi-megaton Mk 39 bombs involved in the mishap were in the "safe" position. Yet the force of the crash initiated mechanical actions that normally required human intervention. In both cases, the "fuzing sequence" had begun: an important step toward arming a nuclear bomb.

Jun 5, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, June 5, 2014 – During the North Korean nuclear crisis of the 1990s, the United States and South Korea shared blunt concerns about the possible outbreak of military hostilities with Pyongyang, according to newly published internal documentation from the National Security Archive. In April 1994, South Korean Defense Minister Rhee Byong Tae told U.S.

Apr 21, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., April 21, 2014– Henry Kissinger played a slightly reluctant but nonetheless highly influential role in establishing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in the mid-1970s, motivated equally by concern about nuclear proliferation and a desire to keep U.S. officials from "charging around the world, like Don Quixote," according to documents posted today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.

Feb 28, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., February 28, 2014 – Sixty years ago, on 1 March 1954 (28 February on this side of the International Dateline), on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the U.S. government staged the largest nuclear test in American history. The BRAVO shot in the Castle thermonuclear test series had an explosive yield of 15 megatons, 1000 times that of the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima and nearly three times the 6 megatons that its planners expected.

Dec 16, 2013 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., December 16, 2013 – The Soviet Union assisted the United States in its effort to curb South Africa's nuclear program in August 1977 when Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev sent President Jimmy Carter a message that Moscow's spy satellites had noticed signs of nuclear weapons test preparations at a site in the Kalahari Desert. Very quickly the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) directed spy satellites to photograph the site which intelligence analysts later agreed was geared to nuclear testing. The U.S.

Nov 22, 2013 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., November 22, 2013 – The arrest of a Pakistani national, Arshed Pervez in July 1987 on charges of illegal nuclear procurement roiled U.S.-Pakistan relations and sharpened divisions within the Reagan administration, according to recently declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.

Nov 22, 2013 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, November 22, 2013 – The final shipment of highly enriched uranium from former Soviet nuclear warheads to the U.S. on November 14, and President Obama's award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Senator Richard Lugar on November 20, have brought new public attention to the underappreciated success story of the Nunn-Lugar initiative — the subject of a new research project by the National Security Archive, which organized the first "critical oral history" gathering this fall of U.S. and Russian veterans of Nunn-Lugar.

Oct 7, 2013 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., October 7, 2013 – A nuclear accident never produced a nuclear detonation, but according to a new book by Eric Schlosser every nuclear-tipped missile "is an accident waiting to happen, a potential act of mass murder." Schlosser's book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety (Penguin Press, 2013) includes a truly sobering account of safety breakdowns and failures from the 1950s to the 1980s.

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