35+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Nuclear Strategy and Weapons

May 13, 2021 | Briefing Book
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. 

Apr 8, 2021 | Briefing Book
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.

Mar 17, 2021 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., March 17, 2021 – During the 1950s and early 1960s, a remarkable number of crises arose during which U.S. leaders made threats, authorized nuclear weapons for use, and put strategic forces in a higher state of readiness, manifesting an almost reflexive reliance on displays of military force, according to a National Security Archive study posted today of declassified records, many published for the first time, on the use of alerts and the Defense Condition (DEFCON) system.   

Feb 17, 2021 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., February 17, 2021 – “What might have happened that day in November 1983 if we had begun a precautionary generation of forces” against a Soviet alert in response to the Able Archer 83 NATO nuclear release exercise?  This is the question Lieutenant General Leonard H. Perroots asked in his January 1989 End of Tour Report Addendum published this week in the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States series, edited by Elizabeth C. Charles.

Dec 18, 2020 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., December 18, 2020 – Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was born on November 25, 1895, in Armenia.  From a modest background and early revolutionary activity in Armenia he joined the Bolsheviks and eventually became one of the most significant statesmen of the Soviet Union. On the 125th anniversary of his birth, historians still debate his role in Soviet domestic and foreign policy. Soviet folklore had a saying about Mikoyan: “from Ilyich [Vladimir Ilyich Lenin] to Ilyich [Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev] without a heart attack or paralysis,” meaning that he manage

Nov 10, 2020 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., November 10, 2020 — After Harvard professor Henry Kissinger met with top Israeli officials in January 1965, he told U.S. diplomats at the Embassy in Tel Aviv of his near certainty that Israel had begun a nuclear weapons project, according to a record of the meeting, which has recently been declassified and is published here for the first time by the National Security Archive. Kissinger added that Israeli scientists were “very certain that such weapons were necessary and that they knew how to make them.”

Sep 16, 2020 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., September 16, 2020 – The NATO nuclear stockpile arrangements that have persisted since the Cold War were initially negotiated during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, facilitating the controversial nuclear sharing arrangements with the allies. The deployments, begun in part as a deterrent against East-West conflict, involved the assignment of hundreds and then thousands of nuclear weapons, and currently some 150 weapons, to NATO allies.

Aug 4, 2020 | Briefing Book
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.

Jul 21, 2020 | Briefing Book
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. 

May 22, 2020 | Briefing Book
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.

Pages