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Questions Pondered by State Department Intelligence in Recently Declassified Reports from the 1960s

Questions Pondered by State Department Intelligence in Recently Declassified Reports from the 1960s
Questions Pondered by State Department Intelligence in Recently Declassified Reports from the 1960s

Will China Help Pakistan Get the Bomb?Will Sweden Go Nuclear?Does West Germany Want to Scuttle the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty?Questions Pondered by State Department Intelligence in Recently Declassified Reports from the 1960sINR’s Nuclear Watch, 1959-1967*Edited by William Burr

Recently declassified State Department intelligence reports – posted today – illuminate a range of important questions about nuclear weapons in world politics during the 1950s and 1960s, including whether new nuclear weapons states would raise the risks of nuclear proliferation.   At an early stage, State Department intelligence analysts estimated that West Germany and even Sweden were likely to adopt the nuclear weapons route.  Those apprehensions proved unfounded but others, such as the activities of Communist China and Pakistan, were more on target and continued to occupy American intelligence steadily in subsequent decades.

During the late 1970s, for example, the CIA acquired information suggesting and later confirming that China had aided the Pakistani nuclear weapons program by providing it with weapons design information. According to recently declassified State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) reports published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, years earlier, not long after China's first nuclear test (October 1964), INR wondered whether China would help Pakistan, among other countries, acquire a nuclear capability. INR experts believed that China had limited resources and seemed "cautious and indecisive" on the question of nuclear assistance, but they saw "reasons for continued concern."

A year later, intelligence reports concerning visits to China by Pakistani defense and science advisers sparked the question, "Will Communist China Give Nuclear Aid to Pakistan?" INR analysts downplayed their significance, arguing that both countries would see risks in nuclear weapons cooperation, although assistance for peaceful purposes was possible. One of the visitors to Beijing, the future Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salam, later played a central role in the 1972 Pakistani nuclear weapons decision, but INR could not foresee that.

These reports on the possibility of Chinese nuclear assistance are a few of the hundreds and hundreds of INR products that have been recently declassified at the National Archives. Topically the reports are wide-ranging but nuclear weapons were one of INR's core issues and this posting includes a range of that coverage.

Today's posting includes reports on:

  • The first comprehensive U.S. government report on the problem of nuclear proliferation, prepared by INR in May 1957, covering possible developments in Europe, Latin America, South Asia, and East Asia. The estimate predicted the likelihood of French nuclear weapons within 10 years (correct, although France reached the goal within a few years), of Swedish and West German nuclear weapons within 10 years (incorrect), and of a Chinese nuclear weapons program within 10 years (China overtook the estimate, having a tested device in 1964).
  • Swedish debates over whether to develop programs for nuclear weapons. Conservatives and military planners wanted nuclear weapons for deterrence, but public opinion leaned in the opposite direction. Supreme Commander Torsten Rapp's requests for nuclear weapons budgets notwithstanding, INR depicted a Swedish government stalemate with the ruling Social Democrats seeking "no doubt [to] try to delay a decision as long as possible."

  • West German opposition during early 1967 to details of the proposed Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which made INR analysts wonder whether Bonn was trying to "kill" the Treaty if it could do so without taking the blame. According to the analysis, "when all is said and done, the FRG does not want to consign itself permanently to a nuclear ‘have-not' status vis-à-vis either its allies or its enemies." What was tricky for Bonn was whether it could develop tactics for killing the NPT "without seeming to do so."

Other topics covered by the INR reports published today include Indian nuclear capabilities, the Chinese nuclear missile program, French nuclear weapons developments, Soviet strategic decisions, the Soviets and nuclear nonproliferation negotiations, Japanese nuclear policy, nuclear forces in Western Europe, and European reactions to anti-ballistic missile programs.

The INR products on nuclear matters selected for this compendium are drawn from recently declassified collections of INR Intelligence Notes and Research Memorandums held at the U.S. National Archives. They have become available because the National Archive's National Declassification Center gave priority to completing the processing of major file series of INR reports which had been unprocessed for years. That gives researchers unprecedented access to the wide scope of State Department intelligence analysis during the late 1950s and the 1960s, when the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations were prosecuting the Cold War, grappling with crises in the Third World, and addressing the diplomatic and security problems raised by nuclear proliferation. So far, the collections of INR intelligence reports available at the National Archive stop at the year 1967. The State Department has yet to turn over to NARA follow-up collections covering the rest of the 1960s and the early 1970s, assuming that they have not been destroyed.[1]

Since its creation, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research has used open sources, embassy reporting, and secret intelligence to analyze political, military, and economic developments around the world and provide senior State Department officials and diplomats with insights into current events. In its role as a producer of intelligence analysis for the State Department and as a participant in intelligence community estimating, INR has developed a good reputation for reliable and independent thinking which has sometimes dissented from views taken by other intelligence agencies. During the Vietnam War INR was pessimistic about the chances for political and military success and in 1963 raised the ire of the Defense Department by questioning the efficacy of its policies. INR angered Defense officials in 1969 by dissenting from their mistaken view, incorporated in a revised National Intelligence Estimate, that a Soviet ICBM had multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles [MIRVs]. Moreover, on the eve of the 2003 Iraq War INR challenged CIA and White House assertions that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. INR lost that debate but has remained "one of the most highly regarded [intelligence offices] for its well crafted and often prescient reports."[2]

The State Department has had a committed intelligence staff since 1946, when it inherited research and analysis personnel from the recently disbanded Office of Strategic Services. State Department intelligence was initially lodged under the direction of a special assistant to the Secretary of State, a decision which was controversial among the Department's geographic bureaus which wanted intelligence and research under their direction. Nevertheless, top officials such as Deputy Secretary of State (and later Secretary of State) Dean Acheson believed that the Secretary needed an intelligence analysis staff independent of the bureaus. The State Department's Office of Intelligence Research (OIR) served the needs of the Secretary by holding morning briefings and writing up special reports but also by coordinating policy with CIA on covert operations. OIR worked uneasily with the CIA in producing national intelligence estimates and was encumbered by the task of producing encyclopedic National Intelligence Surveys (NIS) for the Agency. In 1957 State Department intelligence was elevated to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, with the director having a rank equivalent to that of an assistant secretary of state. The first INR director was former Ambassador to Indonesia Hugh S. Cummings, who played a key role in coordinating covert operations against the Sukarno regime.[3]

INR acquired a higher profile during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, first under the direction of Roger Hilsman, who had directed the forerunner of the Congressional Research Service, and then Thomas L. Hughes, who had worked for Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-MN). Hilsman freed INR from the NIS function in order to streamline the bureau and make it more adept at focusing research and analysis on the situations which were troubling senior officials. As Hughes put it some years later, "our knowing that worry about China, or a possible war on the subcontinent, was on presidential and secretarial desks meant that we would devote more effort to those topics. We were not going to neglect the rest of the world … But we were going to give priority to the policymakers' priorities." But sometimes other State Department officials got in the way and INR had to struggle to get "eyes only" and other sensitive information which its chiefs believed was necessary to fulfill their responsibilities. For example, in a "bill of particulars" presented to State Department Executive Secretary William Brubeck, Hughes observed that INR could not usefully contribute to a National Intelligence Estimate on nuclear nonproliferation "when we are not informed of the current state of US-Soviet negotiations (Rusk-Dobrynin)" on that subject.[4]

With their focus on the needs of policymakers, during the 1960s INR staffers analyzed a whole range of issues, such as rumors of military coups in South Korea, the troublesome presence of Chinese Nationalist armies in Burma, Chinese aid to North Vietnam, discord between Havana and Moscow, extrajudicial killings in El Salvador, British attempts to join the European Community, the charges against Khrushchev by his Kremlin adversaries in October 1964, the origins of the military coup in Indonesia, the significance of NATO, the latest election results in any number of countries, and countless other topics. Scanning through the files of intelligence notes and reports is an education in the international history of the 1960s but also somewhat awe-inspiring because of the evidence of INR's high productivity.

The intelligence notes and research memoranda were the tip of the iceberg because INR had an equally, or even more, important role in providing routine intelligence briefings to senior State Department officials. Every morning, INR experts provided separate individualized all-source intelligence briefings to the Secretary of State, the Under Secretary of State, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, and the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs, as well as the assistant secretaries for the geographic and functional bureaus. According to INR's top secret annual report for 1967, the director provided the briefing to the Secretary of State "in the shortest possible time and with an eye to the Secretary's appointments calendar and a knowledge of the most immediate problems before him" in order to provide "a distillate of worldwide current intelligence from the entire community along with interpretative commentary, including any differences of opinion that may exist." Through the individual briefings, INR officials become "informed of the current needs and concerns of the policy officer," thus enabling the Bureau "more effectively to gear its production of ‘policy-oriented' research papers to known needs and interests" as well as to acquire the most relevant information from the intelligence collection agencies.

The reports on nuclear related issues are scattered throughout the files.. Like all its other analytical work, INR reports on nuclear subjects provided perspective on current intelligence, e.g. reports from Pakistan on possible Chinese nuclear aid or a secret Soviet diplomatic note to the French government, or on recent developments, such as the signing of the Treaty of Tlatelolco creating the Latin American nuclear free zone. The control of nuclear weapons in the NATO alliance was another major issue which INR analysts touched on. During the early 1960s, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations grappled with the problem of nuclear arrangements in NATO and the implications of establishing a multilateral force as a means of giving major countries such as West Germany a greater say in nuclear use decisions, but short of actual possession of nuclear weapons. Moreover, as the negotiations which led to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty unfolded during the mid-1960s, INR contributed reports, e.g. on the Soviet negotiating position and on the West German approach.

As noted, INR worked with the CIA and other intelligence agencies in preparing National Intelligence Estimates. That included the series of NIEs on nuclear proliferation issues which the intelligence community prepared during the 1960s and later. INR even initiated the production of some of them, for example, in April 1964, Hughes wrote to Director of Central Intelligence John McCone to ask him to schedule a new "Nth country estimate" for the third quarter of that year. It would take into account new information on India (see document 11) and Israel, and the possibility of new data on Sweden. Hughes further suggested that the "estimate concentrate on capabilities and intentions of non-communist countries to develop and produce nuclear weapons, since the implications and consequences section that appeared last year remain generally valid."

Most of these reports were highly classified at the time, excluded from automatic downgrading and declassification. Many were "noforn" ("no foreign dissemination"), with some not to be shown even to Canadian or British allies. Moreover, some INR products drew on especially sensitive intelligence sources – for example documents with "controlled" dissemination or limited dissemination ["limdis"] – which meant that relatively small numbers of people had access to them. Some reports remain sensitive from the perspective of agency reviewers; among the newly available collections of INR material include withdrawal sheets indicating that various reports remain under classification controls. Pending declassification requests may lead to the release of more intelligence notes and research memoranda on nuclear issues from the 1960s. 

The Documents

Document 1: "OIR Contribution to NIE 100-6-57: Nuclear Weapons Production by Fourth Countries – Likelihood and Consequences," 31 May 1957, enclosed with letter from Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Division of Research for USSR and Western Europe, to Roger Mateson, 4 June 1957, Secret

Source: Record Group 59. Department of State Records, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy, Records Relating to Disarmament, 1948-1962, box 57, 2 15d: Armaments Nuclear Fourth Countries, 1956-57.

This recently declassified, lengthy report was INR's contribution to the first National Intelligence Estimate on the nuclear proliferation, NIE 100-6-57 which the bureau itself had requested. Written at a time when the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom were the only nuclear weapons states, the "Fourth Country" problem referred to the probability that some unspecified country, whether France or China, was likely to be the next nuclear weapons state.

While not part of the National Declassification Center's recent release of INR lot files, this study has enough significance to merit inclusion as an exception. According to INR Soviet expert Helmut Sonnenfeldt, it was the "first time that systematic treatment has been given the fourth country problem from an intelligence standpoint." The countries which received substantial assessments, in terms of their capabilities, the likelihood that they would go nuclear, and the impact of a nuclear weapons decision were: France, West Germany, Sweden, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Japan, China, India, Israel, and Brazil. INR considered the first three countries, including Sweden and West Germany, likely to develop nuclear weapons within the next 10 years, but subsequent events would prove this estimate to be partly mistaken. INR also argued that East Germany and Czechoslovakia had the technological capability to develop weapons, but that Moscow would not permit that to happen. As for China, for prestige reasons among other considerations, it would "almost certainly attempt to initiate a weapons phase in the development of its nuclear program" during the next 10 years, but China outperformed this estimate, acquiring a capability by 1964. Japan was estimated to have a capability to produce nuclear weapons by 1967, but proponents of weaponization would have to prevail against popularly-based anti-nuclear sentiment.

In light of its security concerns, "If Israel had the opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons, it would do so." The extent of French-Israel nuclear cooperation was unknown to U.S. intelligence, but it was "not impossible that France might give [weapons] assistance to Israel." Anti-nuclear sentiments were powerful in India, yet "one circumstance which might bring about a change in India's attitude toward the possession of such weapons [would be], their possession by neighboring states." Among the Latin American countries, Brazil was the only one which could produce nuclear weapons within 10 years but only "with substantial and continuing outside assistance." Nevertheless, Brazil had "evidenced no desire to develop an atomic war potential," and that was unlikely to change in the near future.

Document 2: Intelligence Information Brief No. 139, "Disarmament Negotiations: The Fourth Power Problem: France," 13 May 1959, Secret

Source: National Archives, Record Group 59, Records of the Department of State (hereinafter RG 59), Entry UD-UP 139, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Documents and Reports, 1958-1966, box 145, Intelligence Information Briefs   

Having embarked on a nuclear weapons production program, the French would soon have enough plutonium to test a device. If France held a successful test it would be the "Fourth Power," after the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom, to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. According to intelligence reports, the French were trying to acquire from U.S. firms the diagnostic technology needed to measure a nuclear explosion. INR did not believe that France had identified a specific test site and noted that France was under pressure to hold a test somewhere other than North Africa; nevertheless it went ahead with one in Algeria in early 1960.

This and the intelligence brief on Yugoslavia were the only INR products on nuclear issues that showed up in a collection that included material from the late 1950s, although presumably other such briefs from that period touched on nuclear issues.

Document 3: Intelligence Information Brief No. 236, "Yugoslavia Nuclear Reactor Goes into Operation," 4 January 1960, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 139, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Documents and Reports, 1958-1966, box 146, Intelligence Information Briefs 210-246

This report gives an overview of Yugoslavia's nuclear program and its tight links with both East and West in terms of financial aid and training programs. For INR analysts, prestige and economic purpose shaped the Yugoslavian nuclear program (INR might not have known that some scientists wanted a reactor that could produce plutonium). While Washington had tried to sell a reactor, the Yugoslavs rejected U.S. safeguards requirements and turned to the Soviets for help with constructing a research reactor, which gave them something "bigger and better" than any other reactor in Eastern Europe. A nuclear deal with the U.S. was in the works as long as the International Atomic Energy Agency provided the safeguards. Years later, Marshall Tito ordered work on a nuclear weapons capability for Yugoslavia, but possible military uses for the reactors were not on INR's radar screen.[5]

Document 4: Roger Hilsman to Mr. Kohler, "European Attitudes on Independent Nuclear Capability," Research Memorandum REU-25, 31 January 1962

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1961-1963, box 132, REU-25-RM

Once the Soviet Union began to develop a capacity to strike the United States with long-range missiles and bombers, questions arose in European capitals and Washington about the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent: would the United States respond to a Soviet attack on Western Europe by launching a retaliatory strike on Moscow, and thereby open itself to a Soviet attack on New York City or Washington, D.C.? That is, would Washington sacrifice New York for Hamburg?  A differing European concern was that Washington might act precipitously in a conflict with Moscow and initiate a nuclear holocaust which could destroy Western Europe. Yet another worry, held in European capitals and Washington and shaped by alarming memories of World War II, was that West Germany might opt for a national nuclear option out of fear that it could not rely on the U.S. deterrent for protection (although INR saw no evidence of current interest in such an option).

Concerns about the credibility of deterrence generated Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Lauris Norstad's proposal for a NATO-controlled medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) force. At the close of the Eisenhower administration Secretary of State Christian Herter introduced the concept of a NATO multilateral force (MLF) of MRBMs sold by the United States with nuclear warheads under U.S. control. Herter also offered to NATO Polaris missile-launching submarines under control arrangements to be determined, an offer which the Kennedy administration took further. For some in Washington, an MLF could help meet alliance concerns about credibility and divert any leanings toward an independent European nuclear force or national nuclear forces. Others had doubts. The lengthy report which follows represented INR's assessment of "present and future European interest in national or multinational nuclear weapons capabilities," including the MRBM proposal, and the extent to which an "enhancement of NATO's nuclear role" could "deter national or multinational European nuclear weapons programs."

Document 5: Roger Hilsman to the Secretary, "Probable Soviet Reaction to Establishment of Multilateral NATO-Controlled MRBM Force," 21 February 1962, RSB-58, Secret, with report and release form attached

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1961-1963, box 133, RSB-58-RM

As discussion of an MLF unfolded, one question which had to be addressed was how the Soviet Union would respond to the creation of such a NATO force. Because a NATO force would increase Western military capabilities, Soviet opposition was assumed, especially because of the West German role; consequently, Soviet propaganda would play "upon lingering anti-German sentiment." The Soviets would try to counter the MLF diplomatically and politically, although they were unlikely to create a Warsaw Pact counterpart for sharing nuclear use decisions. According to the INR analysts, Helmut Sonnenfeldt and Robert Baraz, "Soviet fear of West Germany, though exaggerated for propaganda purposes, appears to be genuine." Nevertheless, they believed that Moscow would accommodate itself to a NATO MLF as a lesser of two evils: "it will probably prefer NATO control (with a US veto) to independent national forces."

Document 6: Roger Hilsman to the Secretary, "Soviet Tactics in Talks on the Non-Diffusion of Nuclear Weapons," 4 September 1962, RSB-152, Secret, with report form attached

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1961-1963, box 133, RSB-152-RM

Before the words "nuclear nonproliferation" entered official discourse, the term "non-diffusion" (or "non-dissemination") of nuclear weapons was used routinely. In part stemming from the negotiations over Berlin, during 1962-1963 the Kennedy administration held talks with allies and adversaries on the possibility of a non-diffusion agreement which included Germany. In light of a recent Soviet proposal, INR veteran Soviet expert Sonnenfeldt explained why Moscow had moved away from earlier proposals singling out West Germany and was focusing on the general applicability of a non-diffusion agreement. According to Sonnenfeldt, the Soviets saw an agreement as relevant to strengthening "obstacles" to a West German nuclear weapons program, to hampering "non-aligned countries in developing nuclear weapons," and to "provid[ing] a platform" for criticizing U.S. nuclear deployments to NATO allies. Sonnenfeldt saw the Chinese factor as playing a significant role in Soviet calculations about a non-diffusion agreement.

Document 7: Roger Hilsman to Acting Secretary, "Japan's Reaction to a Chinese Communist Nuclear Detonation," 1 October 1962, RFE-44, Secret, with report form and distribution sheet attached

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1961-1963, box 132, RFE-44-RM

How U.S. allies would respond to a future Chinese nuclear test was a matter of great interest in Washington and INR produced a series of reports on the likely responses of various countries. This "Limited Distribution" report on possible Japanese reactions did not anticipate that a test would cause basic changes in U.S.-Japan security relations or in Tokyo's general approach to nuclear weapons. There could be greater receptiveness to discussion of Japanese vulnerabilities to nuclear attack, but conservative advocates of expanded defense efforts would not find much traction in government circles while efforts to "condition" the public to take a more "realistic" view of nuclear weapons would go against mass opinion trends. To reduce the possibility that a Chinese test would cause a political shock in Japan, INR recommended specific advance moves, e.g. efforts to persuade elite or public opinion that the Chinese threat was manageable and the Japanese people should not be fearful of Chinese power.

This was a committee product, drafted by four of INR's East Asian experts, including the well-known China scholar Allen S. Whiting whom Hilsman had recruited from Columbia University, Susan Tait, Elmer Culbertson Hulen, and William Bradford Coolidge.

Document 8: Thomas Hughes to the Secretary, "Signs of Kremlin Decision to Improve Its Strategic Posture," 4 April 1963, Research Memorandum RSB-47, Secret, with report and release form attached

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 136, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1962-1965, box 150, RSB-47-RM

After the "Cuban fiasco," the Soviets rejected an "obviously inferior strategic posture." INR analysts pointed to events during mid-February 1963 which suggested that the Soviet leadership was taking steps to spend a greater share of the gross national product on military resources. "We believe that allocation decisions favoring the military have been made and that they involve significantly greater outlays than heretofore for strategic weapons systems." The pattern was clear in light of changes in military leadership, organizational changes, and Khrushchev's public and private statements. Exactly what the Soviets were seeking, whether strategic superiority or parity or qualitative improvements in strategic forces, was then imponderable.

Document 9: Thomas L. Hughes to the Acting Secretary, "A French Nuclear Testing Site in the Pacific? – Plans and Repercussions,"22 May 1963, Research Memorandum RFE-40, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda, 1961-1963, box 141, RFE-40-RM.

France's staging of atmospheric and underground tests in Algeria became increasingly untenable when neighboring African countries protested and even temporarily broke diplomatic relations with Paris. Once Algeria became independent in 1962, French authorities made plans to develop a test site in Polynesia. They had not announced it officially, but told Australian authorities that they would select a specific site before the year ended. That French plans would generate controversy and criticism was evident; New Zealand labor organizations were calling for an economic boycott while other countries in the region, including Latin America, were likely to protest and call for a "nuclear free southern hemisphere."

Document 10: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Evidence of Satisfaction or Dissatisfaction in European NATO Countries with the Lack of a Share in Ownership or Control of Nuclear Weapons," Research Memorandum REU-44, 5 June 1963, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1961-1963, box 138, REU-44-RM

Ambassador Livingston Merchant, who was responsible for the U.S. diplomatic effort to win support for the MLF, asked INR to report on the degree to which non-nuclear European members of NATO were satisfied with their "lack of a share in ownership or control of nuclear weapons." Based on the evidence, mainly various statements made by leading politicians, diplomats, and policymakers, INR experts concluded that most of the countries surveyed (Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Greece) were "relatively satisfied," while only West Germany was "restive" to the extent that some of its officials were interested in a NATO or European nuclear force (but not in a West German national capability). Nevertheless, some governments, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, were interested in a multilateral force as an instrument to make NATO more cohesive and to offset any tendencies toward national nuclear forces.

Document 11: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Sweden Still Faces Question of Acquiring Nuclear Weapons," 28 August 1963, Research Memorandum, REU-56, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, INR/DDR, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1961-1963, box 138, REU-56-RM

In light of the recently negotiated limited nuclear test ban treaty, which Sweden signed on 12 August, INR looked at the implications for Swedish nuclear weapons planning. Since the late 1950s, U.S. intelligence had considered Sweden a likely candidate for a nuclear weapons capability, with pressure for nuclear status coming from military leaders and Conservative politicians, who believed it was necessary to deter Soviet attack. The military had secretly carried out detailed planning for a nuclear option, but U.S. intelligence may not have been aware of this or, more significantly, that Social Democratic Prime Minister Tage Erlander had decided against such an option in 1961.[6]

To maintain political balance, Erlander used technical arguments to postpone making a formal decision on the nuclear program. Thus, when his government signed the test ban treaty, it declared that the treaty "did not bind it in any way concerning the acquisition of' nuclear weapons." Nevertheless, anti-nuclear sentiments were ascendant: "opposition to acquisitions based on emotional and moral arguments against nuclear warfare has spread throughout the Swedish people." Major parties wanted to postpone debate and discussion on nuclear weapons while the test ban treaty had created anticipation that the Soviet bloc was changing. In this context, Swedish politicians argued that a decision in favor of a nuclear capability would be contrary to the "spirit" of the LTBT and would complicate further efforts toward disarmament.

Document 12: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Indian Nuclear Weapons Development," Research Memorandum INR-16, 14 May 1964, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 136, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda 1962-1965, box 144, INR-16-RM

An intelligence report that the fuel core of the Canadian-Indian Reactor (CIR) at Trombay was being changed every six months raised questions about India's nuclear objectives: a six-month period was quite short for "normal research reactor operations," but it was the optimum time for using the CIR's spent fuel for producing weapons grade plutonium. That the Canadians had not established specific safeguards when they made the reactor available gave the Indians a free hand in using the newly-built Phoenix plutonium separation plant to produce the fissile material.

India's leadership might have had nationalistic motives for building the Phoenix plant but if it wanted a nuclear weapons capability it would seek such a capability. INR had no "direct evidence" of an Indian weapons program and believed it "unlikely" that India had made a decision to build a bomb. Nevertheless, it was "probably no accident" that "everything the Indians [had] done so far would be compatible with a weapons program if at some future date it appeared desirable to start one." According to INR, India had taken the "first deliberate decision in the series leading to a nuclear weapon," which was to have "available, on demand, unsafeguarded weapons-grade plutonium or, at the least, the capacity to produce it." One scholar has recently characterized this as India's "proliferation drift": "the slow but sure moves towards the development of nuclear weapons."[7]

Document 13: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Soviet Interest in a West German Commitment Not To Manufacture Nuclear Weapons," Intelligence Note, 30 December 1964, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 131, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 4, Chron - IN's December 1964

This highly classified report concerning a Soviet demarche to the French government proposing a security pact on Germany and nuclear weapons, was so sensitive that, even though it was graded "noforn," INR instructed its readers that the "information is not to be discussed with any foreign nationals, including the French." INR estimated that the Soviets wanted to "play upon French concern" that West Germany might acquire nuclear weapons through new NATO nuclear arrangements, such as the MLF. INR also suggested that the Soviets might have concluded that it might not be possible to stop MLF-type arrangements and that they needed ways to "shape them in a manner which maximizes restraints upon West Germany." While INR did not think that Moscow had much hope for the acceptance of their proposal, [ it was likely that a demand for a "new international agreement barring West German acquisition of nuclear weapons" would probably be an element of a Soviet diplomatic campaign for a European security agreement.

Document 14: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Will Communist China Assist Other Nations in Acquiring Nuclear Weapons?" Intelligence Note, 23 April 1965, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 1, Intelligence Notes (1965) April to May 3

Only months after China's first nuclear test in October 1964, INR looked into whether Beijing would help other nations get the bomb. INR generally found it "unlikely" that Beijing would provide "substantial [nuclear] assistance to any country within the next two or three years, "but it saw "reasons for continued concern about [China's] intentions." China had made statements about the need to break the U.S. nuclear weapons monopoly and might want to aid other countries to limit U.S. freedom of action in using nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, Beijing had limited nuclear resources and if it helped one country, such action would "inspire demands for similar assistance from many others." Moreover, helping countries like Pakistan or North Korea "would obviously stimulate efforts of third countries like India and Japan to develop or acquire nuclear weapons of their own." Such reasons explain why Beijing "thus far seems cautious, indecisive and uncertain about helping other nations acquire nuclear weapons."

Documents 15A-C: Sweden's Continuing Debate

Document 15A: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Swedish Military Chief Seeks Appropriation for Nuclear Weapons in Next Budget," 20 May 1965, Secret, Distribution list attached

Document 15B: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Nuclear Weapons Question Continues to Plague Swedish Government," Research Memorandum REU-52, 28 July 1966, Secret

Document 15C: George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, "Swedish Decision to Cut Military Spending Causes Defense Review, Reduces Likelihood of Nuclear Weapons Acquisition," REU-16, 20 March 1967, Confidential

Sources: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, 15A: box 1, Intelligence Notes (1965) May 9 to May 22, 15B: box 5, Chron/July 1966 Research Memos; and 15C: box 6, Chrons/March 1967 Research Memos

INR analysts charted the political anxieties in Sweden generated by Supreme Commander Torsten Rapp's requests for funds for nuclear weapons during 1965 and 1966. In a move interpreted by INR as part of a pro-nuclear "propaganda campaign," Rapp reportedly asked for funds for to cover the costs of nuclear weapons acquisition; in 1966,, he sought funds to support planning to produce nuclear weapons. Even though Sweden had a nuclear reactor under construction that could provide enough plutonium for weapons by the 1970s, any proposals that looked toward the production of nuclear weapons were politically untenable. Even support for planning was politically risky because of domestic anti-nuclear opposition, not only among the ruling Social Democratic Party but the two centrist parties as well. Moreover, a decision to begin planning would also have international "repercussions" in terms of relations with the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden's neighbors, Denmark and Norway, which have "carefully avoided any contact with nuclear weapons." Nevertheless, a nuclear weapons program had the support of Conservatives which inclined the Social Democratic government "to delay a decision as long as possible" on the budget request..

The government later rejected Rapp's proposals and an INR report from March 1967 on proposed cuts in defense spending suggested that the possibility that Sweden would acquire nuclear weapons had grown even more remote.[8] While Defense Minister Sven Andersson declared that Sweden still had freedom of action on the nuclear front, that the government "seems to be preparing to sign the nonproliferation treaty (NPT) ... would effectively rule out future acquisition" of nuclear weapons. Indeed, according to INR, Social Democratic leaders would "eagerly subscribe to any agreements effectively restricting nuclear weapons testing and production as a way out of their [domestic political] dilemma."

Document 16: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Attitudes of Selected Countries on Accession to a Soviet Co-sponsored Draft Agreement on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," Research Memorandum REU-25, 15 July 1965, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 140, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, , Intelligence Reports, 1964-1965, box 1, Chron/July 1965 Research Memos

With a nuclear nonproliferation treaty under consideration in Washington, INR considered which countries were likely to sign on and why or why not. The report was for Department of State use only, perhaps because the Department leadership wanted to avoid controversy with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, which strongly supported a treaty. INR analysts, mistakenly as it turned out, believed it unlikely that the Soviet Union would be a co-sponsor of a treaty in part because of the "international climate" and also because Moscow and Washington differed on whether a treaty would recognize a "group capability." But on the main question, INR believed that key countries – Italy, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, and the United Kingdom – would support a treaty sooner or later. West Germany was likely to resist at first, in part because Bonn worried that East Germany would sign the treaty, thus contributing to its de facto international recognition. Once an agreement had support from major countries, however, domestic and world opinion would "impel Germany to sign." The French were not likely to sign because they saw proliferation as "inevitable," while the Chinese would probably reject any U.S.-Soviet initiative even though they were "not hostile to the idea of a non-dissemination, non-acquisition agreement."   According to INR, Israel and Egypt would sign the treaty together or "not at all." INR saw a "good chance" that the two governments, even if Israel was "toying with the idea" of building the bomb, would sign the treaty if they were sure that the other would sign. As for India, it was likely to "attach to its accession so many conditions … that its adherence must be rated as doubtful." A key issue was whether Moscow and Washington could provide India with security guarantees against China to leverage New Delhi into giving up the nuclear option.

Document 17: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Recent Indonesian Statements Concerning Nuclear Weapons," 30 July 1965, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 140, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1964-1965, box 1, Chron/July 1965 IN's 

Statements by Indonesian authorities notwithstanding, INR analysts did not "believe that Indonesia possesses the facilities, personnel and radioactive material necessary for producing an atomic device with any speed." A general had made wild claims about forthcoming nuclear tests while President Achmed Sukarno had said that Indonesia should have a nuclear capability. Indonesia, however, had meager nuclear resources and the two Communist powers which had provided aid to Sukarno – China and the Soviet Union – had shown little interest in building Indonesia's nuclear infrastructure. For example, China was providing "limited training facilities": five scientists and engineers had gone to China for training in fissile materials. The anti-Sukarno military coup in the fall of 1965 would effectively put an end to such projects.

Documents 18A-B: The Soviets in Early Nonproliferation Discussions

Document 18A: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary. "Soviet Conditions about Western Nuclear Arrangements for a Nondissemination Treaty," Research Memorandum RSB-106, 29 September 1965, Secret

Document 18B: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Soviet Views of Nuclear Sharing and Nonproliferation," Research Memorandum RSB-115, 13 October 1965, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 4, Chron/Sept.1965 Research Memos and Chron/Oct 1965 Research Memos

One of the reasons that INR had been skeptical about a major Soviet role in co-sponsoring a non-proliferation agreement was Moscow's strong opposition to the MLF proposal, and to nuclear-sharing and nuclear consultation arrangements within NATO, such as the two-key systems which kept U.S. control over nuclear weapons assigned to countries such as West Germany. Also controversial in Moscow was Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's proposal for a partial substitute for the MLF: a NATO Select Committee which would provide a forum for nuclear consultations as a way to give countries such as West Germany a sense of participation in NATO planning. Although Washington had put a draft NPT on the table in the Geneva disarmament talks, that the Johnson administration still treated the MLF as a priority shaped Soviet public diplomacy on a nonproliferation agreement. [9]

In this context, INR looked closely at Soviet positions on an NPT arguing that the Soviets appeared to "attach a higher priority in using the nondissemination issue as a means of attacking possible NATO nuclear arrangements than in concluding an agreement." Nevertheless, the Soviets had not taken a "clear position" opposing the Select Committee concept so it was possible they were "trying to put off any final definitions of what [they] will tolerate in the way of NATO sharing and still conclude a nonproliferation agreement." Moreover, a Polish delegate to the talks, Josef Goldblat, had taken a far-sighted approach by suggesting a freezing of the "status quo" in NATO and the Warsaw Pact, implying that the two-key system and consultations would be an outer limit to U.S. nuclear sharing. The Soviets would eventually agree to that but in the meantime, according to INR, were keeping their position "obscure" so they could "sit in judgment on NATO plans as they are developed." It was not until 1966, after Washington had abandoned the MLF, that the two sides reached agreement on non-transfer language banning physical access to nuclear weapons.

Document 19: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Will Communist China Give Nuclear Aid to Pakistan?" 12 August 1966, Intelligence Note 506, Secret, Distribution List Attached

Source: RG 59, UD-UP 131, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 2, IN-500-579

Intelligence reports about recent visits to Beijing by Pakistani defense and science officials raised questions whether China was or would be providing nuclear aid to Pakistan. The latter was already developing close relations with China, a matter which was of great concern to U.S. policymakers, but INR analyst Thomas Thornton concluded that Pakistan was highly unlikely to seek a significant degree of Chinese nuclear assistance: it would cause severe strains in U.S. relations with Pakistan and there are "few things that would be as certain to trigger an Indian decision to produce nuclear weapons as would a Sino-Pakistani arrangement for nuclear arms collaboration." Moreover, China was unlikely to be responsive: "We remain unconvinced by the evidence thus far obtained that there is any definite plan for Sino-Pakistani cooperation of any type in the nuclear area, but if there is, it is most likely in the peaceful area."

One of the visitors to China, presidential science adviser Abdus Salam, a future Nobel Prize winner in theoretical physics was later ostracized because of his adherence to a minority Muslim sect. Whether Salam played an affirmative role in Bhutto's decision in 1972 to build the bomb has been a matter of controversy, but Feroz Hassan Khan's history places Salam in the center of events. Moreover, once Bhutto had made the decision to go ahead, Salam recruited top scientists to help carry it out.[10]

Document 20: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "The Chinese Nuclear Threat to Non-Communist Asia," Intelligence Note 13, 11 January 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 7, Chron/Jan. 1967 INs

U.S. policymakers were concerned about China's nuclear weapons capabilities. Prepared by Edward Hurwitz, a Foreign Service officer and future ambassador then on assignment to INR, this report treated ICBMs as China's main weapons goal, an eventual means for a "credible threat" to Beijing's U.S. and Soviet "arch enemies." In that context, medium-range ballistic missiles were a step toward an ICBM system. Estimating that China would be deploying MRBMs on its borders, including those with India, the Chinese nevertheless were trying to avoid alarming their Asian neighbors and had "taken pains" to emphasize the defensive nature of their nuclear deployments; moreover, their no first use pledges recognized that nuclear weapons were a "breed apart."  Whether China would be deploying MRBMs on its non-Communist periphery "will be dictated by a desire to improve its prestige, its defense potential, and its ability to confront US military strength in Asia with some degree (at least in Chinese terms) of nuclear power."

Document 21: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "How Major NATO Countries View the Prospect of an ABM Deployment," Research Memorandum REU-14, 3 March 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 137, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda, 1966-1967, box 175, REU-14-RM

Despite new information that the Soviet Union was deploying anti-ballistic missile defenses around Moscow, the United States had not yet decided to deploy its own ABM defenses (although a decision would be made later in the year) and there was some hope that U.S.-Soviet talks would prevent an ABM race. If, however, talks failed, some NATO allies worried about the "adverse consequences" of an ABM race, especially whether having an ABM system might incline Washington toward risk taking. For example, if the United States "was reasonably well-protected by ABMs," a U.S. president "might calculate the risks of nuclear war with the Soviet Union differently from the leaders of European countries which were as exposed as ever to Soviet missiles." Differing perceptions of risks "could lead West Europeans to conclude that their safety lay more in neutrality rather than in dependence on the US."

Such apprehensions emerged especially from the British. During meetings in Washington, British officials "indicated that the UK and other European countries would be concerned that their own status within the Alliance would be reduced, that the present system of deterrence would be undermined, and that the prospects for detente would be damaged in the wake of a new arms race." Moreover, the British press raised the problem of strategic instability: according to the New Statesman, competing ABM systems "would disturb the balance of deterrence, since a nation believing itself secure (rightly or wrongly) would be tempted to risk war or would be suspected by the antagonist of being so tempted."

Among other key allies, West German official opinion was somewhat divided. Apparently out of concern that ABM deployments amounted to an admission that the U.S. deterrent was insufficient, some Foreign Office officials worried that an ABM race could produce a "reduction in the credibility of the West's nuclear deterrent, with serious consequences for NATO." Others in the government tied the ABM issue to the ongoing NPT negotiations. Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroeder declared during a cabinet meeting that the NPT should not prevent West Germany from having "defensive nuclear systems" while the West German ambassador in Washington told Secretary of State Rusk that Bonn would not abandon its objections to the Treaty unless the Soviets agreed that a European nuclear ABM system would be permissible.

Document 22: George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, "The Latin American Nuclear Free Zone: Pluses and Minuses," Research Memorandum RAR-8, 17 March 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 137, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1966-1967, box 174, RAR-8-RM.

The treaty creating the Latin American Nuclear Free Zone (LANFZ) was signed at Tlatelolco, Mexico, on 14 February 1967. The first nuclear free zone agreement covering a populated area, the Treaty of Tlatelolco was, according to INR's analyst, the result of "ingenious, if somewhat ambiguous comprises" forged by the Mexican government. While the proponents of the treaty saw it as having great "psychological and practical significance," a "cold analysis of it does not justify euphoria." Taking a close look at key provisions, INR found that the entry into force provisions included loopholes which "unenthusiastic" states could use so the treaty did not cover their territory. Some of the protocols were problematic, such as a guarantee by the five nuclear weapons states: China had rebuffed overtures and the Soviet Union would not sign unless all the nuclear powers did. Provisions for the peaceful uses of atomic energy also raised serious problems: while the United States, supported by the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, argued that it was impossible to differentiate between nuclear weapons and "peaceful nuclear explosives," Argentina and Brazil claimed there was a difference and insisted on "rigid" definitions of "military" and "peaceful" explosive devices.

That said, INR believed that treaty language creating a control system to ensure that members observed its provisions were "precedent-setting" with important implications for the future. Both London and Washington were satisfied with the flexible provisions concerning the transit of nuclear weapons by non-contracting parties to the treaty. Less satisfactory to Washington were the LANFZ boundaries because the provisions were not in accordance with international law. Technical deficiencies notwithstanding, INR believed that LANFZ treaty could set an important precedent because a "major part of the world has deliberately chosen to exclude itself from the nuclear arms race."

Document 23: George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, "Peking May Have ICBMs in 1971," Intelligence Note 242, 27 March 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 2, IN 120-319 1967

Years before Beijing actually deployed an ICBM in 1981, U.S. intelligence estimated the possibility of the deployment of a "few operable, though probably relatively inefficient missiles" as early as 1971. (A few months later, a coordinated estimate acknowledged that a 1971 deployment was conceivable, although on a "tight schedule.") China sought ICBMs as a deterrent, but the leadership might believe that only a "few" were necessary: even "fears of a [a] relatively small-scale retaliation would be enough to put restraints on the US" so that it did not launch an attack on China. From Beijing's perspective, limiting U.S. freedom of action would enable China to take "a greater degree of militancy" and increase its "political leverage in Asia." China, however, was not likely to use the missiles offensively; it has "displayed an eminent degree of caution and realism in its approach to the US, which it knows will remain incomparably stronger even after the Chinese acquire operable ICBMs."[11] Among the possible implications of a Chinese ICBM force were greater pressures in India and Japan for "acquiring independent nuclear missile capabilities," but also demands from Asian allies for "stronger US (or Soviet) commitments to Asian defenses" and even an "accommodation with China."

Documents 24A-B: West Germany and the NPT

Document 24A: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Reasons for West German Opposition to the Non-Proliferation Treaty," Research Memorandum REU-13, 1 March 1967, Secret, with Report Form Attached

Document 24B: Thomas L. Hughes to the Acting Secretary, "Has West Germany Decided to Try to Scuttle the Non-Proliferation Treaty?" Intelligence Note-273, 8 April 1967, Secret

Sources: 24A: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 2, IN-2120-319 1967; 24B: RG 59, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda, 1966-1967, box 175, REU-13-RM

As these documents suggest, by the late winter/early spring of 1967, controversy over the NPT was hurting U.S.-West German relations, placing them at perhaps their lowest point during the Cold War. While the first report suggested that West Germany would ultimately sign the Treaty, despite objections, only weeks late INR issued another report wondering whether Bonn was trying to wreck the NPT.

By this time Moscow and Washington had negotiated a solution to the "two key" and nuclear consultations problems, which had clouded the early stages of the negotiations, by agreeing to freeze the status quo and leaving existing nuclear sharing arrangements in place with no prospect for an MLF, but leaving open the possibility of a nuclear-armed European successor state.[12] These Soviet concessions were important to moving the negotiations forward, but West German opposition remained, as indicated by a report prepared by Martin Packman, who spelled out the varied sources of German hostility, to the point where Finance Minister Franz Josef Strauss called the NPT a "super Yalta." Sources of opposition included economic concerns (that the Treaty would hamper peaceful nuclear research and that IAEA inspectors would steal industrial secrets), fear that Moscow and Washington had made a deal over Bonn's head, "fear of permanent relegation to second-class status," and concerns that West Germany would be denied its own anti-ballistic missile defense and that the Treaty would bar a nuclear force for a united Western Europe. Especially perplexing to Bonn was Washington's volte face on the MLF; instead of giving West Germany a role in a NATO nuclear force, the U.S. along with Moscow were ruling out any such option. While no one in Germany had plans for a national nuclear force, treaty opponents did not want to "foreclose the opportunity," much less make such a pledge to Moscow, "the traditional enemy."

In an early April 1967 report, INR analysts, probably Martin Packman again, wondered whether Bonn was trying to "kill" the Treaty as long as it could do so without taking the blame. Whatever Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger and his ministers had in mind, INR estimated that "when all is said and done, the FRG does not want to consign itself permanently to a nuclear ‘have-not' status vis-à-vis either its allies or its enemies." Opposing the Treaty were significant domestic political forces, including Christian Democrats and Christian Socialists; even Social Democratic support was weakening. What was tricky for Bonn was whether it could develop tactics for killing the NPT "without seeming to do so." So far, it had done that through "appeals on technical and emotional issues," by pressing hard for textual changes, by inciting other countries to state their objections, and through "dilatory procedures" on decisions. These developments created a policy dilemma for Washington: moving forward on the NPT and "suffering some deterioration" in relations with Bonn, or retreating from its position on the Treaty and "fac[ing] the loss of some international prestige" as well as damaging the possibilities for U.S.-Soviet collaboration in arms control.

Rather than retreat from the NPT, Washington persevered in trying to persuade Bonn to accept the Treaty. Given the difficulties, it was not until July 1968 that Foreign Minister Willy Brandt was ready to advise Kiesinger to sign the NPT and even then the matter remained stalemated in the government until Brandt became chancellor in September 1969.[13]

Document 25: Allan Evans to the Acting Secretary, "Japanese Expert Considers Nuclear Defense," Intelligence Note 292, 14 April 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 2, IN-220-319-1967

INR assessed several recent newspaper articles by Kiichi Saeki, a defense expert close to the government, whose thinking was "noteworthy for [its] frank consideration of Japan's need for nuclear-defense planning to cope with Communist China's growing potential." In the articles Saeki supported a nondiscriminatory NPT that would allow non-nuclear states to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses and would be "flexible enough to permit adjustment to future international developments." Saeki also emphasized the need to eliminate Japan's "nuclear taboo" and to develop industrial and technical capabilities that would give Japan a nuclear option, among other military capabilities. According to INR, the line of approach in the articles paralleled a paper written for Prime Minister Sato, which Saeki had also helped draft. The internal paper took the approach that "Japan should favor an NPT, [but] it should also reserve the right to produce nuclear weapons in the future, maintain close liaison with the United States on defense planning, and continue research and development on peaceful uses of nuclear energy." After reading the paper, "Prime Minister Sato reportedly requested further studies on how long it would take Japan to produce an atomic bomb following a decision to do so." Also, with U.S. nuclear deployments on Okinawa complicating reversion negotiations, Sato wanted to know "how the reversion of Okinawa could be reconciled with present Japanese policy against the deployment of nuclear weapons on Japanese soil." INR did not believe that Japan was about to "go nuclear" – strong domestic opposition would prevent that – but it saw greater "flexibility" in official circles on nuclear defense issues.

Documents 26A-B: More Trouble with the Soviets over the NPT

Document 26A: Thomas L. Hughes to the Acting Secretary, "Soviets Continue to Denounce American Interpretation of Nonproliferation Treaty," Intelligence Note 283, 12 April 1967, Secret

Document 26B: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Soviet Policy on Nonproliferation Moves in Two Directions," Research Memorandum RSB-46, 21 April 1967, Secret

Source: 26A: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 2, IN-220-319-1967; 26B: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 137, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Research Memoranda, 1966-1967, box 172, RSB-46-RM

While Washington was trying to win over Bonn, it also had to find ways to maintain a consensus with the Soviets on key issues in the Treaty. Not altogether sure whether the Soviets were really committed to the NPT, the fact that the Soviets had been discussing security assurances with the Indians was seen as evidence that Moscow was interested in having a treaty. India was one of the countries that was especially resistant to the NPT and the Soviets were only one of a number of governments, e.g. Canada, which vainly tried to persuade Indira Gandhi to sign on. The other "direction" of Soviet policy consisted of tough positions on issues that were of special interest to West Germany. The Soviets were insisting that article III on safeguards mention only the IAEA but not the European Atomic Energy Community [EURATOM], even though West Germany and other EURATOM members resisted the idea of IAEA inspections in Western Europe. It would take quite a few months before the Article III wording was to everyone's satisfaction,[14] but the Soviets also objected to U.S. interpretations of the proposed Article II which would permit a nuclear-armed, united Western Europe. The Soviets may have disliked this interpretation, but it was essential to persuade Bonn to buy in to the Treaty.

Document 27: George C. Denney, Jr., to the Secretary, "Probable Effects of Chinese Possession of MRBMs on Vietnam War," Intelligence Note 418, 30 May 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 2, IN-400-499 1967

By spring 1967, China had staged five nuclear tests (and would soon conduct a sixth), including one, in October 1966, in which the device was launched by a guided missile that flew some 450 nautical miles. Those developments, along with a series of missile tests, led the U.S. intelligence community to estimate that during 1968 China could deploy a force of medium-range ballistic missiles in the 1,000 n.m. range, which would put major U.S. bases within striking distance. A prospective Chinese MRBM force led INR to consider whether Beijing would believe that it had more freedom of action to step up its involvement in the Vietnam War: it "might feel freer in extending aid to Hanoi and becoming more involved in the war if US pressure on the North Vietnamese seemed to require it." China might feel that it could take more risks because even a "modest nuclear capability" would have "significant deterrent value" since Washington "would be particularly reluctant to risk nuclear exchanges in the context of the Vietnam [War], which Peking appears to be convinced is unpopular with large and influential segment of the US population." While INR believed that Beijing was likely to avoid "extreme risk taking" in the Vietnam War it was probably convinced that "by raising the specter of its own nuclear power, it would be freer to pursue its basic policy of providing aid to North Vietnam."

Document 28: Thomas L. Hughes to the Secretary, "Tests of Soviet Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS)," Intelligence Note 669, 14 August 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, Entry UD-UP 141, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Reports Coordination and Review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 7, Chron/August 1967 INs

Soviet tests of a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS) attracted the interest of the U.S. intelligence community because of the unique challenges it posed to defenses. The large SS-9 ICBM would provide the first two stages for the FOBS while the third stage would orbit and fire the warhead through the atmosphere. It could attack targets in a southerly direction and thereby evade the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System which provided early notice of missiles coming from the north. Apparently the Soviets saw FOBs as important for attacking U.S. anti-ballistic missile sites; while INR did mention a role for FOBS in complicating ABM defenses, it saw a different primary mission: "Soviet strategists probably look on FOBS as useful primarily in a pre-emptive attack" on time-urgent soft targets such as SAC bases with alert bombers and key military and civilian headquarters.[15]

At that point, August 1967, the U.S. had no means to detect a FOBs attack but INR noted that a satellite detection system would be operational during 1970. This was a reference to the secret Defense Support Program (DSP), which would use infrared technology to detect missile launches and reduce any surprise advantage from the FOBs. The Soviets recognized this and later retired their twenty or so ICBMs with FOBs capabilities in 1983.[16]

* Thanks to Ruoyu Ji (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) for his help with this compilation.

Notes[1].   Some years ago the State Department informed this writer, in response to a declassification request, that the State Department had destroyed a collection which included intelligence reports from 1978.[2].  Loch K. Johnson, National Security Intelligence: Secret Operations in Defense of Democracies (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012), 18.  For useful journalistic coverage of INR, see Justin Rood, "Analyze This,"  Washington Monthly  Jan-Feb. 2005, and Hank Hogan,
"Agency Spotlight: State Department Bureau of Intelligence & Research Analysis with Diplomacy in Mind," Homeland Security Today 12 August 2011.[3].   For personal accounts, which include interesting discussion of work in State Department intelligence during the 1940s and 1950s and later, see the following interviews on the Web site of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training: Evelyn Colbert, Thomas Fina, and Helmut Sonnenfeldt.  For Cummings and Indonesia, see George McTurnan Kahin and Audrey Kahin, Subversion as Foreign Policy: The Secret Eisenhower and Dulles Debacle in Indonesia (New York: The New Press, 1995).[4].   For Hilsman's reorganization of INR, see Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy (New York: Delta, 1967), 69-72; , “INR Report: Bureau Undergoes Changes in Thinking and Planning,” Department of State News Letter , December 1961; interview with Thomas L. Hughes; Hughes to Brubeck, "Current Deprivations and Its Consequences," 16 January 1963, RG 59, INR/RCRC, Bureau of Intelligence and research, Reports Coordination and review Staff, Intelligence Reports, 1961, 1963-67, box 3, Chron/Ins April 1963.  No record of Brubeck's response has surfaced.[5]. For background on the Yugoslav nuclear program, see Jacques Hymans, Achieving Nuclear Ambitions: Scientists, Politicians and Proliferation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 157-202.[6].  Thomas Jonter, "The Swedish Plans to Acquire Nuclear Weapons, 1945-1968: An Analysis of the Technical Preparations," Science and Global Security 18 (2010): 61-86. Jonter has recently published a comprehensive study, The Key to Nuclear Restraint: The Swedish Plans to Acquire Nuclear Weapons During the Cold War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).[7].  Jayita Sarkar, "The Making of a Non-Aligned Nuclear Power: India's Proliferation Drift, 1964-1968," International History Review 37 (2015): 933-950. This article cites an excised version of the INP report.[8].  See Jonter, "The Swedish Plans," 80, for details.[9].   For useful background on the NPT negotiations, see George Bunn, Arms Control by Committee: Managing Negotiations with the Russians (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 71-75.[10].     Feroz Hassan Khan, Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb (Stanford: Stanford Security Studies, 2012), 177-178. [11].   For Beijing's historical minimal deterrence emphasis, see Jeffrey G. Lewis, The Minimum Means of Reprisal: China's Search for Security in the Nuclear Age (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2007).[12].    Andreas Lutsch "The Persistent Legacy: Germany's Place in the Nuclear Order," 19 May 2015, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars/Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, 13-14.[13].  Susanna Schrafstetter and Stephen Twigge, Avoiding Armageddon: Europe, the United States, and the Struggle for Nuclear Non-Proliferation, 1945-1970 (Westport, Ct: Prager, 2004), 182-194.[14]. Bunn, Arms Control by Committee, 87-101.[15].  See Steven J. Zaloga, The Kremlin's Nuclear Sword: The Rise and Fall of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces, 1945-2000 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002), 112-114.[16]. Ibid., 114.

About the Author

William Burr

William Burr

Former Senior Scholar;
Senior Analyst, National Security Archive
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