30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Nuclear Proliferation and Accidents

Apr 15, 2015 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., April 15, 2015 – The U.S. government first learned of Israel's secret nuclear program at Dimona from an American corporate official talking to U.S. diplomats in Tel Aviv during mid-summer 1960, according to a declassified document published today for the first time by the National Security Archive, the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, and the Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Other documents published today detail the discovery of the secret project that some in the U.S.

Dec 23, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., December 23, 2014 – A recently released Sandia Labs film contains fa Washington, D.C., December 23, 2014 – A recently released Sandia Labs film contains fascinating glimpses into the U.S. government's efforts to maintain nuclear weapons safety over the years, including a late 1960 episode in which a senior Los Alamos Laboratory staffer advised a U.S. soldier in West Germany to take shots with his gun at nuclear bombs on German fighter-bombers if he ever became concerned about the possibility of their misguided or accidental use.

Nov 17, 2014 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, November 17, 2014 – Twenty years ago this week a team of American specialists completed an unprecedented operation known as Project Sapphire, working with the government of Kazakhstan to secure more than a half-ton of highly-enriched uranium that had been abandoned from a Soviet submarine project during the Cold War, according to declassified documents, video and photographs posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org).

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.

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