Nuclear History

Talking History: Ten Lessons for Running an Oral History Project

Above: Still from author's interview with former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

Ten lessons for running an oral history project

Diplomatic historians have a love-hate relationship with oral history. Most agree that interviews with former politicians and officials provide important insights, especially when historical records are not (or not yet) available.

Nuclear Intelligence via Three Martinis

How a lunch in Rio de Janeiro confirmed a US diplomat’s hunches about Brazilian nuclear weapons research 

This post also appears on the National Security Archive blog Unredacted

Researching the Global Cold War in South Africa’s Archives

Archives in Pretoria and Bloemfontein offer opportunities for researchers of nuclear and Cold War history.

South Africa is the only state to develop and later renounce nuclear weapons. Yet many questions about the scope of the program and the decisions that lead to its termination between 1989-90 remain. As access to archives and primary sources expands, the South African case deserves renewed attention.

Nuclear Tests Are Not What You Think

Above: Reagan observes North Korean positions at the DMZ, November 1983

The United States bargained with Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa to stave off nuclear tests. Can it do the same in North Korea?

The Punggye-ri site in North Korea appears primed for a nuclear test. Waiting for the order, personnel now pass the time by playing volleyball, with one suspected “volleyball net set up at the command center area”.

2017 Nuclear History Boot Camp Participants

Announcing the 2017 Nuclear Boot Camp Participants

NPIHP’s summer 2017 Nuclear History Boot Camp will be hosted by the University of Roma Tre and the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies (CIMA) for ten days, June 15th-June 25th. Aimed at building a new generation of experts on the international history of nuclear weapons, the seventh-annual Nuclear History Boot Camp is an initiative of the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project (NPIHP) and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

General George C. Marshall and the Atomic Bomb

General George C. Marshall's relationship with the atomic bomb was unique – he was the only senior-level official who participated in all of the major decisions involving nuclear weapons from 1942 to 1952. Author Frank Settle provides the first full-length narrative of General George C. Marshall’s crucial role in the decade-long development of the first atomic bombs.  He explores Marshall’s deep involvement with nuclear weapons as Army chief of staff, secretary of state, and secretary of defense. 

Spies in South Africa

To understand how Russian intelligence views the world, look to its history in Southern Africa

South Africa was a major intelligence battlefield during the Cold War. Warsaw Pact intelligence agencies had full agendas: fomenting regime change in Pretoria, supporting the war in Angola, and aiding Communist/anti-Colonial/national liberation/etc. movements across the continent.

Strategic Gossip

Getting the story straight on Germany’s nuclear ambitions

On March 19th, 1969, alarm spread through the British security establishment. Rumors of West German nuclear weapons ambitions could no longer be dismissed as Warsaw Pact propaganda. Highest-level French officials warned of their common ally's secret plutonium reprocessing projects. One advisor of President de Gaulle was quoted: