Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Nuclear's negative learning curve

Letter to The Daily Telegraph:
Your energy editor Jillian Ambrose writes (“Rolling the dice for a nuclear renaissance,” Daily Telegraph, June 11; that Humphrey Cadoux –Hudson, the UK head of the subsidiary of French  power generation utility, Électricité de France (EDF), believes that “The secret to nuclear is that you need to make a series [of identical reactors)…” to make nuclear cheaper.


This sounds plausible, and is for every industry, except nuclear developed in France, which has a unique ‘negative learning curve.’


This fact was spelled out in a path-breaking article - ‘The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing’ – published in the international journal, Energy Policy  in September 2010 (pages 5174-5188),


The study by Professor Arnulf Grubler, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, based in Laxenburg, Austria, ( joint editor of Energy Technology Innovation: Learning from Historical Successes and Failures (Cambridge University Press, 2014.), reviews the history and the economics of the French PWR programme, the most extensive nuclear-scale up experience in an industrialized country.


Its most significant finding is that even this most successful nuclear scale-up was characterized by a substantial escalation of real-term construction costs, according to Prof. Grubler, who concludes “The French nuclear case illustrates the perils of the assumption of robust learning effects resulting in lowered costs over time in the scale-up of large-scale, complex new energy supply technologies.”

The two French designed and built reactors, of the same design planned for Hinkley C in Somerset by EDF Energy, one at Olkiluoto in Finland and the second at Flamanville in France, developed since this study are both catastrophically  over cost and very late being completed.


Will EDF never learn that nuclear doesn’t  pay? ( unless the British taxpayer does in substantial multi-billion pound subsidies).

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Trumping past Presidents in dealing with Korea? Donald Trump answers a final question while departing a press conference following his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12, 2018, in Singapore. Trump described his meeting with Kim as “better than anyone could have expected.” Win McNamee/Getty Images

A few hours after Presidents Trump and Kim completed five hours of unprecedented high-level diplomatic negotiations over security and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula at the Capella hotel resort on Santosa Island in Singapore,  President Trump held a lengthy (83 minutes) press conference detailing his discussions

Amongst the many matters he stressed in a barrage of questioning from the US and international media, was that dealing with nuclear weapons were his highest presidential problem and priority.

He observed:“ “I had an uncle who was a great professor for 40 years at MIT.I used to discuss nuke with him all the time. He was a great expert. A great brilliant genius. Dr. John Trump. MIT sent me a book on my uncle. We used to talk about nuclear. You talk about a complex subject. It is not just get rid of the — rid of the nukes. When you hit a certain point, you cannot go back.

New York Times reporter David Sanger asked Trump: “I wonder if you could give us some sense of chairman Kim told you how many nuclear weapons he believes he has made and whether he is willing to turn those over first and then whether in your mind you need to do more than done in the Iran deal for actually dismantling the uranium and plutonium processes and if you had a sense if Chairman Kim understood what that involves and a timetable in his mind of shutting that?

Trump retorted: “I can tell you he understands. He understands it so well. He understands it better than the people that were doing the work for him. That is an easy one. As far as what he has, it is substantial. The timing will go quickly…. It is a substantial arsenal. I used to say maybe it is all talk and no action. We have pretty good intelligence into that, although probably less than any other country. You probably understand that. We have enough intelligence to know what they have is substantial.”

In a positive, almost lyrical passage, unusually sensitive for the usually brash US President, Trump said

“Chairman Kim has an opportunity like no other. To be remembered as the leader who ushered in a glorious new era of security and prosperity for his people. Chairman Kim and I just signed a joint statement which he reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

We also agreed to vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement as soon as possible. He wants to do that. This is not the past. This is not another administration that never got it started. And therefore never got it done. Chairman Kim says North Korea is also destroying a major missile engine testing site. That’s not in your signed document. We agreed to that after the agreement was signed. That’s a big thing. The missiles they were testing. The site will be destroyed very soon.

We dream of a future where all Koreans can live together in harmony and where families are reunited and hopes are reborn and where the light of peace chases away the darkness of war. This bright future is within and this is what is happening. It is right there. It is within our reach. It’s going to be there. It will happen. People thought this could never take place. It is now taking place. It is a very great day.”

Another US Presidential press conference on Korea, almost 70 years earlier, on November 30, 1950 contained much different  revelations.
On  Nov.30 in 1950, President Harry S. Truman declined to rule out using nuclear weapons to prevent South Korea from being overrun by Chinese troops.

President Harry S. Truman declined to rule out using nuclear weapons to prevent South Korea from being overrun by Chinese communist troops. At the time, China had recently joined North Korea in a fierce counterattack on United Nations military forces, most of them from the United States.

During a news conference, Truman accused the Soviet Union of orchestrating the Chinese incursion over the Yalu River into North Korea in a bid to spread communism throughout East Asia. The president pledged to “increase our defenses to a point where we can talk — as we should always talk — with authority.”

A reporter asked Truman what he would do if the Chinese nationalists on Taiwan became involved in the Korean conflict. The president declined to respond. Instead, he asserted that the United States would take “whatever steps were necessary” to stop the Communist onslaught.

Another reporter then asked, “Will that include the atomic bomb?”

“That includes every weapon that we have,” Truman replied. The president, however, went on to say that he wanted to see the bomb never used again, saying “it is a terrible weapon, and it should not be used on innocent men, women and children.”

Before leaving office in 1953, with the war mired in a stalemate, Truman told Congress, “we are being hurried forward, in our mastery of the atom … toward yet unforeseeable peaks of destructive power [when humans could] destroy the very structure of a civilization. … Such a war is not a possible policy for rational men.”

Korea was run by a US Military Government from 1945 to 1948, a situation that inevitably deeply shaped post-war Korean history . Historian Bruce Cummings of the University of Chicago stresses the importance  of  the atrocious massacres of war on the peninsula, and the American incendiary bombing campaigns.

The Korean War, which officially began in 1950, ended with a tense armistice in 1953, and saw as many as 327,000 US troops were engaged there. Today, with Korea still partitioned into a democratic south and a communist north, 37,500 U.S. troops remain in South Korea, most of them stationed near the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.

According to Professor Cumings, the United States became mired in a civil war between the North, whose leader Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong-un,  had gallantly fought against the Japanese in Manchuria starting in 1932, and the South, whose leadership consisted largely of collaborators with the Japanese occupation. According to Cumings, the North Koreans “essentially saw the war in 1950 as a way to settle the hash of the top command of the South Korean Army, nearly all of whom had served the Japanese.”

(‘The 38th Parallel,  book review, New York Times, September 8, 2010;

A New York Times review of  Cumings’s book demonstrates that the Korean War was a civil war with long, tangled historical roots, one in which the US had little business meddling. He notes how “appallingly dirty” the war was. In terms of civilian slaughter, he declares, “our ostensibly democratic ally was the worst offender, contrary to the American image of the North Koreans as fiendish terrorists.”

(‘The Korean War: A History’, by Bruce Cumings; New York Times, July 21, 2010;

President Trump’s team still has much delicate fence mending to do

Bruce Cumings is a historian at the University of Chicago; the author of several books, including a doorstop two-volume history entitled “The Origins of the Korean War”; and a gifted controversialist. He distills his work in his primer, “The Korean War,”

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Presidential Pre-delegation to use nuclear weapons goes back 60 years

The letter you'd get if Eisenhower decided it was OK for you to have permission to use nukes under some circumstances ("predelegation" of nuclear use authority, started in 1956). 

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Nuclear errors historically concentrated the mind!

From Twitter feed of excellent nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein @wellerstein            
A discussion from 1969 about false alarms. The BMEWS radar system produced 40-50 false nuclear attack alerts per year — that's around one per week

Israel's hypocrisy over perceived Iranian nuclear threats

Your diplomatic editor’s report (“Netanyahu lobbies May to pull out of Iran nuclear, “ 7 June; of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s European capitals visit to discuss the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons programme with Mrs May, the French foreign minister and German chancellor  makes no mention of Israel’s own nuclear arsenal of at least 200 nuclear warheads. (“Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display, “ New York Times, 3 June 2017;

Interestingly, on April 19th  this year the United States Government issued a working  paper to the preparatory  committee for the  Review Conference of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) currently ongoing in Geneva,  entitled “Establishing regional conditions conducive to a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems,”


This seven page paper asserts: “Over the course of recent decades, a number of regional States, including Iraq, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Libya and the Syrian Arab Republic, have all pursued undeclared weapons of mass destruction -related programs and activities, in violation of arms control obligation.”


It also omits to make mention of Israel, the only nation in the region possessing nuclear weapons, and which refuses to join the NPT. The Trump Administration argues that a regional WMD-free zone would best be  achieved outside the auspices of the NPT.


Just such an initiative was floated nearly ten years ago in a now nearly forgotten Paris Summit of Mediterranean countries, held on 13  July 2008, under the co-presidency of the French Republic and the Arab Republic of Egypt and in the presence of Israel, which was represented by its then Premier Ehud Olmer.


Signed by the then Israeli premier, it concluded supporting "regional security by acting in favour of nuclear, chemical and biological non-proliferation through adherence to and compliance with a combination of international and regional nonproliferation regimes and arms control and disarmament agreements.." and added "The parties shall pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems.” (

This is surely an agreement all parties, Iran included, could build upon constructively, instead of Mr Netanyahu's Janus-like belligerency

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Fracked off!

This was published on website of the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Logal government  select committee on 4 June
Written evidence submitted by Dr David Lowry [PGF 214]
I wrote to you via email on Monday morning, May 21st, in advance of the oral testimony session you held with Ministers Perry and Raab this week, including a short memorandum on health hazards and environmental risks persistently overlooked by government ministers and their officials in respect of fracking, with the suggestion you might put the points to the ministers before you.
I have now had the opportunity to read the transcript of the hearing, and find the points I suggested were not in the event put to the ministers.
Minister Perry especially made several sweeping suggestions in praise of the extant planning process and quality of the regulatory advice and action the UK regulators  deliver: for instance:
“there is a genuine belief among the Departments and the industry that we currently have excellent regulatory powers.  We have three superb regulators involved in establishing a very sound basis for this industry.” - Minister Perry (Q.144) 
She also asserted in respect of the UK regulatory regime: “the three regulators, in terms of the regulations, are very much fit for purpose.” (emphasis added)(Q.199)
and later described the existing regulators as :”very highly functioning regulators—HSE and EA, in particular..” (Q.206)
Minister Perry went on to assert:” What we have always set out to do is to have a sober, science-led process of exploration to understand if this resource exists, if it can be extracted safely…” (my emphasis)(Q.154)
and added: “At the moment, we are going through a science-led process of exploration to understand if the shale resources that we know are there in the three main formations can be extracted at a high enough flow rate to make it worthwhile in a way that absolutely respects local communities’ wishes and to make sure that we have regulation fit for purpose.” (my emphasis) (Q.187)
In her concluding remarks, Minister Perry asserted “..There has been an awful lot of misinformation put out in the public domain, often by groups that do not want us to use gas at all.  There is a lot of ideology that is feeding into many of these plans.  We have also arguably not given enough resource and help to local authorities to pick through what can be a very complicated landscape.  Trying to help local decision-makers achieve that balance, make decisions based on the facts…” (Q.258)
There were, therefore, several missed opportunities to further probe Minister Perry when she made these documented assertions in respect of the high quality of the UK environmental regulators and the science-led nature of departmental understanding of risks of fracking.
Therefore I would invite you to publish this letter with the  short memorandum I sent earlier so readers of the Committee’s final report, (included below for convenience) may see that ministerial assertion is not the same as demonstrable fact.
I personally remain unconvinced at the qualitity or objectivity of the advice  that has been provided to British Government ministers on the safety of fracking and would encourage the committee to include a recommendation that ministers and  their departmental advisors  look rather more widely at  peer-reviewed academic studies published in the United States, and indeed at their own heath advisor’s assessment of fracking’s health hazards, issue dover three years ago.
Ministerial advisors seem to have overlooked the importance of the ‘precautionary principle’ in policy formulation, and  apparently have chosen instead to cherry pick information that underpins pre-determined  policy decisions, which almost inevitably leads to  poor policy.
I was really shocked at an article on fracking the energy minister Claire Perry wrote for The Sun published last Friday. In her article she asserted, inter alia:
" Because gas is so important for our economy we know that we will need it for decades to come. It also fits with our world-beating climate goals as it generates less CO2 than oil and coal.
That is why every estimate of our 2050 emissions reductions targets from the independent Climate Change Committee includes gas in our energy mix and why it is right to continue to look for gas that can be safely extracted from the potentially huge reserves hundreds of metres beneath our feet." (my emphasis)
She went on to write :"There are those who argue strongly against shale gas, using the most colourful and scaremongering language they can find and intimidating local communities and decision makers with lots of protestors from out of town..... we committed to support the development of onshore British shale gas and to deliver a clean safe and affordable energy supply for the country." (my emphasis)
NEW rules to speed up planning will be brought in to scupper anti-fracking protesters. The Government says “scaremongers” are delaying a shale gas revolution. Energy Minister Claire Perry said the North Sea had been a great British success story but the country needed to find new supplies of gas ...
I do not know if the minister wrote this article herself, or signed an article written by an advisor or departmental officials. Either way it is disturbing she could state such contentious things as I highlight in red and pass them off as facts, when they are demonstrably inaccurate, even according to  Public Heath England's own report on the safety of fracking. I set out why this is demonstrably the case- not scaremongering as she asserts- in my note below, based on PHE and US academic research.
I would be really grateful if you could  consider putting these points to the ministers when they appear before your committee this afternoon.
Dr David Lowry
Senior research fellow
Institute for Resource and Security Studies
Massachusetts  02139 
[I am based in London].
Fracking's health hazards and environmental risks
A study published by independent academic researchers at the University of Missouri at the end of 2013 found greater hormone- disrupting  (so-called  ‘gender-bender’ chemicals) properties in water located near  fracking than in areas without drilling.
Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body’s endocrine system, which controls numerous body functions with hormones such as the female hormone estrogen and the male hormone androgen. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as those studied in the MU research, has been linked by other research to cancer, birth defects and infertility. (for full study see:
Other US-based scientists at Yale University have found 55 fracking pollutants linked to cancer, including 20 associated with leukaemia or lymphoma. “These findings support the hypothesis that exposure to unconventional oil and gas development could increase the risk of leukaemia,” the recent study concludes.
The pollutants linked to leukaemia include benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde and several toxic types of hydrocarbons. More than 80 % of the 1,177 water pollutants and 143 air pollutants from the US fracking industry couldn’t be assessed for cancer risk because of a lack of data, the paper, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, states.
Moreover, research published in the US by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that found levels of radon in Pennsylvania homes – where 42% of readings surpass what the US government considers safe – have been on the rise since 2004, around the time that the fracking industry began drilling natural gas wells in the state. (Increased Levels of Radon in Pennsylvania Homes Correspond to Onset of Fracking’, April 9, 2015;
In the UK, the heath watchdog, Public Health England, warned in a report published three years ago If the natural gas delivery point were to be close to the extraction point with a short transit time, radon present in the natural gas would have little time to decay … there is therefore the potential for radon gas to be present in natural gas extracted from UK shale.”
(‘Shale gas extraction: review of the potential public health impacts of exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants,’ 30 October 2013;
Interested parties should also consult the over 200-page  Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking - a fully referenced compilation of the evidence outlining the risks and harms of fracking, produced by the  Physicians for Social Responsibility ( and  the Concerned Health Professionals of New York (
May 2018

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Nuclear disarmament: why it became a requirement under the 1968 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty ( thanks to Mexico)

This is wonderful historical scholarship which I cannot better, so am posting it complete.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Mexican Amendments: The Negotiating Record

Jorge Castañeda y Álvarez, head of the Mexican delegation to the Conference of the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee, who presented amendments to the NPT in September 1967, portrayed when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1979-1982 (photo courtesy of Historic Archives of the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs)

Published: May 23, 2018
Briefing Book #630
Edited by William Burr
For more information, contact:
202-994-7000 or
Impetus for NPT Article on Nuclear Disarmament was “Fear” of Non-Nuclear Weapons States “Being Frozen Indefinitely into Second Class Status”
Superpower Negotiators Supported Mexican Proposals to Win Support for NPT from Non-Nuclear States
NPT Articles on Disarmament and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy Remain Contested

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Mexican Amendments: The Negotiating Record

Washington D.C., May 23, 2018 - The controversial Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, requiring "good faith" disarmament measures, arose from the "fear" by non-nuclear weapons states "of being frozen indefinitely into second class status," according to newly declassified U.S. documents about the NPT negotiations posted today by the National Security Archive to mark the Treaty's 50th anniversary.
Article VI has been controversial partly because of conflicting interpretations over what it requires and perceptions that the nuclear weapons states have not taken positive action to live up to that commitment.  The documents illuminate the "second class status" concern that led the Mexican government, in September 1967, to propose a separate treaty article obliging disarmament action by the nuclear weapons states, along with other Mexican proposals that were critically important to building an international consensus for the  NPT

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Mexican Amendments: The Negotiating Record

By William Burr
Fifty years ago, when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was awaiting the approval of the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. and Soviet negotiators who played key roles in negotiating the treaty understood that approval depended on the support of the non-nuclear weapons states (NNWS).  While convinced that an NPT could further U.S. and international security interests, U.S. policymakers worried that backing for the treaty would tepid in key countries from West Germany to India and Japan unless it addressed a central problem: the discrimination between the few nuclear weapons states (NWS) and the many NNWS. According to State Department and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) memoranda published today for the first time by the National Security Archive, the NNWS had a “fear of being frozen indefinitely into second class status.” Therefore, U.S. negotiators wanted the treaty to include obligations by the NWS so that it provided “more balance between the nuclear and non-nuclear powers.”
Today’s posting continues the Archive’s coverage of the history of the NPT by presenting U.S. documentation on the negotiation of its controversial Article VI, under which “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” The language spoke to concerns about the U.S.-Soviet arms race, apprehension about the very existence of nuclear weapons, and widespread support for the goal of comprehensive disarmament--eliminating weapons of mass destruction and scaling back conventional armaments--although both U.S. and Soviet policymakers found the goal virtually nonnegotiable.[1]
Both far-reaching and inexact, Article VI would not have existed without pressure from the NNWS. The government of Mexico, which had already played a central role in the creation of the Latin American Nuclear Free Zone, took the initiative by proposing language for the NPT that confirmed obligations by the NWS. Mexico proposed an article for nuclear disarmament and offered the first draft. [2] Sweden also made a contribution by proposing language designed to strengthen article VI through a specific reference to “nuclear disarmament.”[3]
The Mexican ambassador to the disarmament talks in Geneva, Jorge Castañeda y Álvarez de la Rosa, presented first drafts of other articles designed to appeal to the interests of the NNWS. One was an article validating the creation of nuclear weapons free zones (Article VII), such as the Latin American nuclear free zone, which Mexico had played a key role in negotiating. Another was to ensure that the “potential benefits” from the “peaceful application of nuclear explosives” would be made available to NNWS. Mexico also offered a revised version of Article V to ensure the fullest opportunity for NNWS to benefit from the potentials of peaceful nuclear technology.
Declassified U.S. records document the painstaking effort by U.S. and Soviet negotiators Adrian Fisher and Alexei Roshchin at the Conference of the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee [ENDC] to reframe Castañeda’s proposals in order to make them acceptable to both Moscow and Washington as well as to the other members of the Committee. Having already included references to nuclear disarmament in the NPT’s preamble, the US and the USSR accepted the proposals mainly to build support for the treaty, but they were willing to accept Article VI obligations because proposals relating to nuclear disarmament were already on the agenda such as a comprehensive test ban and a fissile material production cut-off.
American and Soviet negotiators agreed that the Mexican amendments and the supporting Swedish contribution several months later were important to winning the support of the NNWS/nonaligned nations. To assure that no votes were lost, Moscow and Washington accepted changes in wording even after they had tabled the treaty. Nevertheless, they realized that even an article on disarmament was not enough to assure the support of the NNWS, which also sought other changes, such as a provision for periodic review conferences through which signatories could evaluate progress toward realizing the treaty’s goals, including nuclear disarmament.
 Overseas archives could shed light on the impact of the Mexican amendments and other changes on the thinking of the NNWS, although some of the latter may have already concluded that an NPT could add to their security by keeping their regions nuclear weapons-free. By contrast, some states such as India refused to sign on because the NPT left intact the imbalance between the NWS and the NNWS.
The other amendments to the NPT that the Mexican government inspired have involved varying degrees of controversy. Article VII on nuclear free zones has been important and the source of diplomatic initiatives leading to the creation of the African and the South Pacific nuclear weapons free zones. Article V on peaceful nuclear explosives was the subject of complex negotiations, but it has been virtually a dead letter because of the basic U.S. government policy that explosive devices were the same as nuclear weapons and involved the same risks to public health and safety.
Article IV, on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, to which the Mexican government contributed language, has been a major source of contention because of differences over interpretation. Industrial NNWS such as Italy and West Germany opposed any restrictions on the development of peaceful nuclear industries, as did developing NNWS. While the Mexican government proposed language that the NWCS had a “duty” to provide nuclear technology, both Moscow and Washington rejected notions of obligation, although they agreed with a Nigerian proposal that the NWS could “facilitate” peaceful development.[4]
The U.S. government’s public position was that nuclear activities that were very closely associated with developing a weapons capability, such as plutonium reprocessing, were compatible with peaceful uses as long as they were safeguarded. Nevertheless, to discourage nuclear proliferation, Washington worked with European allies to impose export and secrecy controls over sensitive technology, such as gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. To that extent, Washington hedged on the scope of the technology and information sharing that it deemed compatible with Article IV. Over the years, especially after the 1974 Indian test, the U.S. government worked with others in imposing even more restrictive approaches to the dissemination of technologies that could be used for producing fissile material.[5]
Iran and other non-nuclear parties to the NPT have argued that the “inalienable rights” language of Article IV includes the right to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by Iran and the P5+1 in 2015 does not dispute that but imposes tight controls and restrictions on Iranian enrichment and reprocessing activities. By contrast, under a 1988 agreement the United States confirmed Japan’s right to reprocess plutonium. Thus, political criteria, for example, whether an NPT signatory has ever pursued a nuclear weapons program, have to some extent defined the scope of Article IV activities.[6]
Article VI has been even more controversial. The commitments by the NWS signatories to work toward nuclear disarmament and by the NNWS signatories to eschew nuclear weapons have been widely viewed as one of the “grand bargains” underlying the NPT. Yet, as Matthew Harries has observed, Article VI’s “central political contribution to the NPT bargain was to make clear that this inequality was intended to be temporary.”[7]
Post-Cold War Moscow and Washington made substantial progress in reducing their nuclear arsenals to 85 percent below Cold War levels, but their nuclear arsenals remain substantial.  During the 1990s, the Clinton administration supported negotiations over two major proposals relating to the nuclear disarmament agenda—the comprehensive test ban treaty and the fissile material production cut-off. The test ban negotiations were successful, but the U.S. Senate blocked ratification of the treaty, while India-Pakistan rivalries and a lack of international consensus on verification hobbled the cut-off talks.[8]
The arms control community generally criticized the George W. Bush administration’s record on nonproliferation for taking a restrictive interpretation of Article VI, for seeking to develop new nuclear weapons, and for the breakdown of negotiations with North Korea.[9] Favoring a different approach, Barack Obama came to office calling for movement toward nuclear abolition; the administration’s first Nuclear Posture Review supported reducing the threat of nuclear weapons and working for the long-range goal of a nuclear-free world. Nevertheless, efforts on the fissile cut-off remained stymied, while no action was attempted on the test ban treaty. Moreover, the New Start II agreement on strategic forces cuts with Moscow went hand-in-hand with nuclear modernization programs that the Republican Senate made even more expensive. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan increased their nuclear arsenals and North Korea’s weapons program developed unchecked.[10]
 By the close of the Obama administration, disappointment with the failure of the NWS to make progress on Article VI contributed to the growing support for the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, which the United Nations approved in July 2017.[11] Controversy over Article VI continues in the preparations for the 2020 NPT review conference, with some NNWS arguing that nuclear modernization contravenes the Article while the NWS claim they are doing the best they can. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has won approval for higher levels of spending on nuclear modernization while joining other NWS in criticizing the ban treaty.[12] That the NWS continue to downplay Article VI could have damaging consequences for the nuclear nonproliferation regime, which is already under stress owing to uncertainties over Iran and North Korea.


Document 01
Henry Owen, Director, Policy Planning Council, to the Secretary of State, "New Proposals Re Securing Non-Nuclear Countries Adherence to a Non-Proliferation Treaty," 5 April 1967

Source: National Archives, Records of Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Record Group 383 (RG 383), Director's Office NPT Files, box 5, United States Non-Proliferation 1967 Book #4

To address the concerns of the non-nuclear weapons states about the treaty, Henry Owen made a number of suggestions, including providing assurances about the availability of peaceful nuclear technology. To address the "fear of being frozen indefinitely into second class status," Owen reviewed areas where the treaty could be modified. One suggestion was to strengthen the Treaty's preamble. Another was for the president to commission a study, as an urgent matter, of older U.S. disarmament proposals and determine "whether new US proposals can be developed in light of continuing technological advances."

Document 02
Memorandum of Conversation, "Non-Proliferation Treaty," 8 May 1967, Secret, attached to letter to William C. Foster from Martin Purnell, First Secretary, U.S. Embassy Japan, 19 May 1967

Source: RG 383, Director's Office NPT Files, box 7, Memorandum of Conversation

As Japan was not a member of the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament, but an important NNWS, ACDA director William C. Foster flew to Tokyo for special consultations with senior officials. The key meeting was with Foreign Minister Takeo Miki, with whom Foster reviewed a number of issues, including peaceful uses and "peaceful nuclear explosives," safeguards, Indian and West German concerns, and the NPT's proposed duration. Among Takeo Miki's concerns was that the Treaty not hinder research and development on nuclear energy, including nuclear fission. On the nuclear disarmament issue, a problem that was of great importance to domestic opinion, Takeo Miki stated that the "treaty should lead to disarmament rather than just a weapons freeze."[13] He believed that the NNWS needed "assurances of the willingness of the nuclear countries to scale down and eventually disarm," and that without embodying such a commitment in the Treaty "it would be difficult to convince the nonnuclear nations they should join the treaty."

Saying that he agreed, Foster spelled out the U.S. nuclear disarmament agenda, including the fissile materials production cut-off and the "destruction of thousands of warheads," but that those goals had to be pursued "one step at a time." He did not believe it possible to include those and other proposals and "still get a meaningful treaty," but he was willing to "insert in the treaty a statement of intentions and let the review conference look into the progress being made."

In his comments Takeo Miki had emphasized the importance of treaty provisions for periodic review conferences "as a way for non-nuclear nations to satisfy themselves that the nuclear nations had in fact carried out their commitments." This would be a point that the Japanese would continue to make, along with Romanian, Swedish, and Italian diplomats, in discussions of the treaty.

Document 03
Adrian Fisher to Henry Owen, "S/P Memorandum of April 5, 'New Proposals re Securing Non-Nuclear Countries' Adherence to a Non-Proliferation Treaty,'" 23 May1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, Director's Office NPT Files, box 5, United States Non-Proliferation 1967 Book #4

Reviewing the State Department Policy Planning Staff's suggestions for winning the support of the NNWS, Fisher developed proposals on security assurances and an AEC study on the dissemination of "spin-off technology." He also agreed that the NNWS "would find it easier to sign an NPT if there were stronger evidence of the nuclear countries' intent to move seriously to halt and reverse the arms race." Toward that end, Fisher believed that strengthening the preambular language could help.

Document 04
William C. Foster, "Memorandum of Conversations - Leading to Tabling of NPT," 10 August 1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, Director's Office NPT Files, box 7, Memorandum of Conversation

With the U.S. and the Soviets getting ready to table the NPT, minus the controversial safeguards Article III, chief Soviet negotiator Alexei Roshchin offered a new version of the preambular language on disarmament, which Foster found acceptable as it drew on earlier U.S. documents.

"... Desiring to further the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between states in order to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery pursuant to a Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament under strict and effective international control ..."

Document 05
State Department Airgram CA-1545 to U.S. Embassies in NATO Countries et al., "Aide-Memoire on the Draft Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," 24 August 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Having reached agreement on a basic treaty text, except for the contested Article III on safeguards, Moscow and Washington submitted the treaty for discussion and review by the ENDC and all U.N. members generally. The text included the language on disarmament proposed by the Soviets and a separate article (IV) on peaceful uses. Washington had wanted to hold the latter as a fallback, but the Soviets convinced American negotiators to incorporate it. According to the aide memoire accompanying the treaty text, Article IV "results from many suggestions by non-nuclear weapon countries" that the NPT included a separate article on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.[14]

Document 06
Memorandum of Conversation, "Non-Proliferation Treaty (Part II of II)," 16 September 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Only a few days before the Mexican ENDC delegation made its NPT proposals, during a conversation with Dean Rusk Foreign Minister Miki restated his interest in stronger language on peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament: "The people of Japan ... strongly favor a declaration of intent to achieve an ultimate nuclear disarmament guarantee." Rusk, however, noting that Chinese and French nonparticipation in the negotiations made it difficult to move forward on disarmament, demurred from any notion of a guarantee in the sense of "a legal requirement" in the Treaty. He suggested the possibility of further strengthening the preamble, but Miki said he had no problem with the wording. He only preferred a different structure, so that the Treaty stipulated that nuclear disarmament was necessary for reducing world tensions.

Rusk assured Miki that the NPT would not "interfere with the development of peaceful uses," but he made no strong assurances in response to Miki's wish that Japan not be "denied the opportunity of using nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes when these are fully developed." As Rusk had explained before, such devices were "no different from nuclear explosives used in weapons."

Documents 7A-B: The Mexican Amendments

Document 07A
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 869 to Department of State, 18 September 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Ms. E. Aquirre, with the Mexican delegation to the ENDC, told a U.S. official that her government would be distributing, as “informal suggestions,” drafts for NPT articles. All of them spoke to the problem of adjusting the balance of obligations between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states.

Document 07B
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 870 to Department of State, 18 September 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Among the Mexican proposals was new language for Article IV on peaceful nuclear uses, including an emphasis on the “duty” of the nuclear weapons states to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, “especially in the territories of non-nuclear weapons states.” The other three were new articles altogether: Article V on “nondiscriminatory access to peaceful nuclear explosives and Article VI on the obligation of the nuclear weapons states to pursue disarmament negotiations. Drawing on some of the language in the preamble, the new article called upon:

"Each nuclear-weapon State Party to this Treaty under takes to pursue negotiations in good faith, with all speed and perseverance, to arrive at further agreements regarding the prohibition of all nuclear weapon tests, the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation .of all their existing stockpiles , the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery, as well as to reach agreement on a Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament under strict and effective international control."

Another new article, what became NPT Article VII, concerned the right of signatory states to conclude regional nuclear weapons-free zone arrangements as exemplified by the recent Latin American agreement.

Document 08
Conference of the Eighteen Nation Commitment on Disarmament, "Final Verbatim Record of the Three Hundred and Thirty-First Meeting held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Tuesday, 19 September 1967, at 10:30a.m.," ENDC/PV 331, 19 September 1967

Source: Source RG 59, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of International Conferences, Records Relating to Disarmament Conferences, 1960-1970, box 10, ENDC/PV 310-334 (2 of 2)

The Mexican Ambassador to the ENDC, Jorge Castañeda y Álvarez, formally presented the proposals to the ENDC on 19 September 1967. He acknowledged that his government considered the draft treaty “on the whole clearly satisfactory,” especially because Articles I and II provided “firm” cornerstones “because they are so drafted as to preclude any proliferation of nuclear weapons, direct or indirect.” Nevertheless, Castañeda indicated that his proposals on peaceful uses, disarmament, nuclear-free zones, and peaceful nuclear explosives were necessary to correct a basic problem: the “treaty does not, in our view, fully satisfy the requirements of the acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations of the nuclear and non-nuclear Powers.”

After Castañeda spoke, Adrian Fisher gave a presentation on U.S. plans for a limited anti-ballistic system, which Secretary of Defense McNamara had announced a few days earlier. According to Fisher, the ABM “does not represent an acceleration of the United States-Soviet strategic arms race,” but the announcement had a poor impact on the NNWS [See document 11].

Document 09
Acting ACDA Director Archibald Alexander to Secretary of State, "Current NPT Issues," 22 September 1967, with attached report on "World Reaction Toward the NPT," Secret

Source: RG 383, Directors Office NPT Files, box 4, United States Nonproliferation Files, Mr. Conger's 1967 & 1968 Book #6

Written too early to take into account the Mexican proposals, this wide-ranging report reviewed issues that had to be addressed to complete the negotiations: Article III, the problem of treaty duration, security assurances, provisions for amendments, and the "balance of obligations." The latter referred to the arguments made by the NNWS that the Treaty should "contain some obligation on the part of the nuclear powers to limit or reduce their nuclear arsenals and to accept safeguards on their peaceful nuclear facilities."Concerns about the NPT's "imbalance" also influenced Japan's proposal for periodic treaty review conferences to ensure that signatories were living up to their obligations.

According to Alexander, ACDA preferred to limit the problem of disarmament to the treaty's preamble, which spoke directly to the "cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons." He suggested that Rusk propose to Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko that future review conferences have in their purview not only "obligations under the operative section" but also "the fulfillment of the purposes of the preamble." The problem with having a disarmament article in the Treaty's "operative section" was that it would "inevitably involve the verification issue, is too complicated and would be non-negotiable."

Document 10
U.S. Mission Geneva telegrams 1001-1005 to Secretary of State, "Proposed Mexican Changes to NPT," 28 September 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

According to the U.S. delegation, the Mexican amendments raised “problems”, but at the same time they were “opportunities” by offering the possibility of incorporating the thinking of “important non-aligned countries” and strengthening the “case that treaty does meet [their] reasonable and responsible requests.” Many of those states would evaluate the way that Moscow and Washington responded to the proposals as a “test of whether co-chairman regard NPT as immutable to be forced” on them.

Noting that Mexico had been “anxious” to contribute to the NPT, the delegation wrote that it had made the “first significant suggestions for amendments.” Given that, the Mexican ambassador to the ENDC Jorge Castañeda was likely to be “willing to work with us in accepting reasonable modifications.” But before approaching Castañeda, it was necessary to discuss the amendments with the Soviet delegation.

In the balance of the message, the delegation analyzed the four proposals and suggested alternate language and editorial changes for each. For example, the notion of a “duty” to share peaceful nuclear technology was unacceptable in Washington(and probably toMoscow) so the U.S. delegation suggested that the “idea of most importance to Mexico … is inclusion of some formulation regarding assistance to non-nuclears by nuclears.” The delegation believed that the language on nuclear free zones could be accepted as something that the treaty would not prohibit.

On the disarmament article, the delegation preferred to see stronger language in the preamble but anticipated that “there will be strong pressure from virtually all non-aligned and our allies to strengthen and move this language to operative article.” In any event, the language concerning “all speed” was problematic because it “might make it possible at review conferences to charge nuclear powers with failure [to] fulfill their obligations.”

Document 11
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1008 to Secretary of State, "ENDC Liaison Report No. 421," 28 September 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-3 SWITZ (GE)

Mexican delegation member Ms. Aquirre told a U.S. counterpart that during a meeting of the non-aligned members of the ENDC the Mexican proposals had received a "very favorable" reaction although India and Brazil found that they "did not go far enough." The U.S. announcement about ABM deploymentshad a negative impact because the non-aligned nations believed that the nuclear powers "would simply go on arming themselves in [an] unlimited arms race while [the] non-nuclears were tied down in their present status by the NPT."

Document 12
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1008 to Secretary of State, "Western Four Meeting October 4 [sic]," 2 October 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-3 SWITZ (GE)

Meeting with the British, Canadian, and Italian ENDC delegates, Fisher gave his personal assessment of the Mexican proposals. One problem was that Washington "would have major difficulty" supporting language about the abolition of nuclear weapons prior to the achievement of general and comprehensive disarmament, the implication being that the West needed nuclear weapons as long as Soviet conventional forces outmatched NATO's. Moreover, it was not "desirable [to] attempt [to] include lists of specific measures since [it was] impossible [to] reach agreement with Soviets on any specific lists."

Document 13
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1055 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairmen's Meeting, Oct. 2," 2 October 1967

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, Non-Proliferation USSR July-December 1967

In their first full discussion of the Mexican amendments, Fisher and Roshchin agreed that the reference to a "duty" on the part of the NWS in the Mexican text of Article IV was unacceptable, but Roshchin believed it was "very desirable [to] meet wishes of Mexican [delegation] even if wording had to be changed." On the proposed article on peaceful nuclear explosives, about which neither Fisher or Roshchin showed enthusiasm, Roshchin thought it important to include it "in view of Mexican desire [to] help us." Both agreed that the article on nuclear-free zones was acceptable.

On the proposed article on disarmament, Fisher preferred stronger language in the preamble instead, but Roshchin thought it should be included: "we will be negotiating here for many years" and recognizing that fact in the treaty would do no harm. Toward that end, he offered a redraft of the Mexican amendment.

Document 14
Memorandum of Conversation, "Non-Proliferation Treaty," 4 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Reviewing West German concerns about the NPT, Counselor Berndt Von Staden said that his government had hoped that non-aligned governments would be tabling amendments that would correct such problems as the treaty's duration and the weakness of the preambular language on disarmament. When ACDA official Culver Gleysteen told him about the Mexican proposals, including one to include on "operative provision" on the "obligation on the part of nuclear weapons states to negotiate nuclear disarmament measures," Von Staden said that it would be "well received" in Bonn. Getting a West German signature on the NPT, however, would require far more than Article VI.

Document 15
State Department telegram 49458 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 5 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Responding to the delegation's analysis of the Mexican proposals, the State Department wrote that it concurred but made a few suggestions, including a redraft of the proposed articles on disarmament and peaceful nuclear explosives. Noting that the redraft did not include the phrase "with all speed and perseverance," Rusk suggested that Fisher explain that the preamble gave effect to that idea by "calling for [the] achievement of [the] cessation of the nuclear arms race 'at the earliest possible date.'"

Document 16
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1083 to State Department, "NPT Discussion with Soviet Deloffs [Delegation Officers]," 5 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, Non-Proliferation USSR July-December 1967

With the Soviets emphasizing their wish to complete work on amendments from the non-aligned states as quickly as possible, before the Treaty went before the UN General Assembly, Soviet and U.S. delegates had a wide-ranging discussion that included the language of the Mexican amendments on disarmament, peaceful nuclear explosive devices, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. For the language of the disarmament article,U.S. delegate De Palma raised questions about including a reference to "nuclear disarmament" because Washington could not endorse that objective in the absence of comprehensive and general disarmament. Soviet delegate M.V. Antyasov suggested that the word "nuclear" be removed, claiming that it would be close to the idea of Swedish delegate Alva Myrdal that all treaty signatories, nuclear or non-nuclear, have the same disarmament obligation.

Document 17
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1121 to State Department, "Co-Chairman's Meeting, Oct 7," 7 October 1967, Secret,

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, Non-Proliferation USSR July-December 1967

Continuing the discussion of the Mexican proposals, Fisher and Roshchin disagreed whether the proposed article on disarmament should refer to verification as the U.S. had recommended. The Soviets thought that using the word was too "restrictive" because it might "raise suspicions" among the non-nuclear nations when an important purpose of the article was "to make points" with them.

Document 18
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1140 to State Department, "Discussion with Soviets of Mexican Amendments," 10 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

This discussion focused on the dedicated articles on disarmament and peaceful nuclear explosive devices. On the latter, the Soviets emphasized that in order to meet the "requests of the responsible non-aligned" nations it was important to include language concerning an "appropriate international body" to provide technological assistance on PNEDs [peaceful nuclear explosive devices], but the U.S. delegates favored more flexibility in the language. On disarmament, the Soviets continued arguing that a reference to verification was "unacceptable." They believed that Washington should make a concession on this just as the Soviets knew better than to include language on "nuclear disarmament." Moreover, it was "not a matter of practical importance" because "everybody knows" that the United State would "not agree to any measure unless it considers that verification aspect is satisfactory."

Document 19
William C. Foster to Secretary of State, "Status Report on NPT Negotiations," 10 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, Directors Office NPT Files, box 4, United States Nonproliferation Files, Mr. Conger's 1967 & 1968 Book #6

Reviewing overall developments, including Article III, when to recess the ENDC, preparing for a "favorable climate" at the UN General Assembly, and the Treaty's duration, Foster began with a discussion of the Mexican amendments, which he argued was the "fall-back for which we have been preparing" because of the importance of giving "the treaty more balancebetween the nuclear and non-nuclear powers."

Document 20
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1169 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairman's Meeting," 11 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Worried about "growing dissatisfaction" in the ENDC, the Americans asked the Soviets to move more quickly in responding to the Mexican amendments by taking a position on the peaceful uses language. Noting that the Soviets intended to present a comprehensive response to the Mexican proposals, Roshchin suggested that both delegationsput across the idea that they were giving "sympathetic consideration" to them.

Document 21
State Department telegram 52341 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 11 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Conceding Moscow's argument against references to verification, the State Department, backed by the AEC, ACDA, and Defense, agreed that language mentioning "effective measures" would do the job.

Document 22
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1183 to Secretary of State, "Views of Soviet Delegation," 13 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

The Soviets responded positively to the latest U.S. formulation of Article VI and searched for language on the PNEDs article that Washington could support, such as "appropriate international procedures" instead of an "international body."

Document 23
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1343 to Secretary of State. "ENDC Liaison Report No. 429," 24 October 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-3 SWITZ (GE)

Meeting with Castañeda and Aquirre for lunch, Fisher provided them with the text of the Mexican amendments as negotiated with the Soviets as well as language on NPT review conferences that was close to the Mexican position. Castañeda had no major disagreement, but he suggested wording changes, e.g., in article V, on peaceful uses, to approximate the “duty” of the NWS by saying “parties to the treaty in a position to do so shall contribute alone or together.” Fisher, however, emphasized the importance of including the word “cooperate” in the text and Castañeda did not dissent.

Document 24
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1795 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairman's Meeting, Nov 18 - NPT Amendments and Procedures," 19 November 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Having reached an understanding with the Soviets on the wording for articles on disarmament, peaceful uses (what Fisher had proposed in his late September message) and peaceful explosives, the Geneva delegation requested authority to accept the changes while continuing to press the Soviets to accept proposals supported by the U.S., such as periodic review conferences and the importance of including the preambular language in the scope of the review conferences. In addition, on the number of non-nuclear countries whose accession to the treaty would be necessary to bring it into force, the delegation recommended agreeing to 40 (which the Department later approved).

Document 25
State Department telegram 73686 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 22 November 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Responding to the delegation's request, the State Department granted the authority it sought to accept the Soviet proposals for the wording of Articles V and VI.

Document 26
State Department telegram 73687 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 22 November 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

In this follow-up message, the State Department sent the latest agreed texts of articles IV, V, and VI as well as the current text of the proposed article on peaceful nuclear explosives.

Document 27
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 2290 to Secretary of State, "Draft NPT Text As It May be Revised for Tabling at ENDC," 17 January 1968, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

This near-final text of the NPT included the new articles V, VI, and VII as well as the redrafted article IV. On review conferences, the treaty stipulated holding only one event, five years after the treaty had entered into force, as the Soviets had insisted (instead of periodic conferences), but the purpose would be to determine the extent to which the "purposes and provisions" of the treaty were being realized, which approximated the U.S. idea that the preamble should also be reviewed. Nevertheless, that issue remained contested by many parties.

Document 28
Conference of the Eighteen Nation Commitment on Disarmament, "Final Verbatim Record of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Third Meeting Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,on Thursday, 8 February 1968, at 10.30 a.m."ENDC/PV363, 8 February 1968

Source: Source RG 59, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of International Conferences, Records Relating to Disarmament Conferences, 1960-1970, box 11, ENDC/PV 363-377

In her remarks, Swedish delegate Alva Myrdal that the "obligations incumbent on the nuclear-weapon states are considerably weaker in the present draft," e.g., wording about "all speed and perseverance" had been deleted as had been the references to the "prohibition of all nuclear weapons tests." Consequently, Myrdal proposed including the words "at an early date" in the text as well as to insert the word "nuclear" in front of "disarmament." In addition, she proposed that somewhere in the treaty there should be a reference to the comprehensive test ban.

Document 29
State Department telegram 116390 to U.S. Mission Geneva, "Swedish Amendments," 16 February 1968, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Responding to the delegation's transmittal of a Swedish working paper whose gist Myrdal presented on 8 February, the State Department was gratified by the "moderation and reasonableness" of the Swedish amendments to Article VI. The Department favored accepting them with slight modifications and authorized the delegation to "tell Roshchin that we believe it would be in our joint interest to accept" them. Accordingly, "disarmament" was changed to "nuclear disarmament" and "at an early date" was to be included. Moreover, language about "the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time" was included in the preamble.

Document 30
State Department telegram 117377 to U.S. Mission Geneva, "UK Views on Swedish Amendments," 17 February 1968, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

The British came up with a variant of the Swedish suggestions for Article VI which the State Department saw as unnecessary because it was only different in style. During a discussion with British diplomat Ian Smart, ACDA official Culver Gleysteen said that Washington anticipated that "allies will be pleased with [the Swedish] changes" and that "considerable non-aligned support for Jan. 18 text plus Feb. 8 Swedishamendments [had already been] expressed (Sweden, Mexico, and inferentially Ethiopia)." Moreover, "given our knowledge of general positions of other non-aligned [delegates] one might already claim 'general support' [for the Treaty] is developing at ENDC." As the Department's "main objective in accepting Feb. 8 Swedish amendments wasto line up non-aligned support for NPT, we would prefer making as fewchanges in them as possible." The British, however, did not give up.

Document 31
State Department telegram 121588 to U.S. Mission Geneva, "Wrap Up on NPT Amendments," 28 February 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

As the Soviets had not yet officially approved the Swedish amendments, the State Department, in a message personally approved by Rusk, asked the delegation in Geneva to stress to the Soviets the importance of their agreement to the Swedish proposals on the preamble (the reference to the test ban) and on Article VI. Moreover, to make the treaty "most broadly acceptable," it was important to win Soviet support to language for periodic review conferences.

Document 32
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 2831 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairman's Meeting March 10 - NPT Amendments," 10 March 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 8, USSR 1968

After some delay and just before the ENDC officially tabled the NPT, Roshchin informed Foster that Moscow had accepted the Swedish proposals to reference the CTB in the preamble, to include "nuclear disarmament" in Article VI, and language for periodic review conferences. In addition, the Soviets accepted a British amendment to ensure that the treaty's preamble fell within the scope of the review conferences. The next day, at the last moment, the British also succeeded in getting a few slight changes in the Treaty's wording, including a last moment impact on the language of Article VI ("relating to" instead of "regarding" the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament).

Document 33
Memorandum for the Record by Spurgeon Keeny, "584th NSC Meeting, 1:00 pm, Wednesday, March 27, 1968," 4 April 1968, Secret, Excerpt

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, Bromley Smith Papers, box 32, 584th Mtg Draft Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

After giving President Johnson and the NSC a briefing, Foster "raised the question as to what would happen after the NPT." Noting the requirement for "good faith" negotiations looking toward nuclear disarmament, Foster referred to the "major proposals" that Washington had already made: the comprehensive test ban and the fissile material production cut-off, both of which were staples of the disarmament agenda. He also mentioned a freeze on strategic weapons, which Washington was trying to advance: a forerunner of the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks. A new proposal, for nuclear weapons-free ocean seabeds, was in the works. In point of fact, no progress was being made on the production cut-off or the test ban and Foster acknowledged that the seabeds proposal could "take some pressure off of us on the comprehensive test ban issue" (which had been hung up by verification issues).

Document 34
Robert S. Rochlin to the Director, "List of Criticisms of NPT," 18 April 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 1, NPT 1968 Book 1 of 2

The anti-nuclear weapons Pugwash Conference sponsored a symposium on the NPT that raised concerns that have dogged the nuclear weapons states ever since. Most of the participants supported the treaty as it was, but they subjected it to a variety of criticisms. On Article VI, they generally agreed that it "was too vague to accomplish its purpose." "Several participants suggested that non-nuclear weapon states could withhold their signature, or at leasttheir ratification, of the NPT until the nuclear powers took at least one or two significant steps toward nuclear disarmament." One of the Indian participants went further, arguing for language e in the treaty that would allow signatories to withdraw from it after seven years "if, in [their] judgment, insufficient progress had been made toward nuclear disarmament."

Document 35
U.S. Embassy India Airgram A-1037 to State Department, "NPT: Canadians Continue Efforts to Enlist Indian Adherence," 30 April 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, India-Nonproliferation Book 2

TheMexican amendments did not make a dent in the Indian government's opposition to the NPT. After Canadian High Commissioner James George briefed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on merits of the treaty, she argued that it "was not a step toward peace: it was merely a consolidation of the status quo between the nuclear haves and have nots." For that and other reasons, "she saw no advantages accruing to India in signing the NPT."

Document 36
State Department telegram 174858 to Diplomatic Posts, "NPT," 1 June 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

In the final stages before the UN General Assembly took up the treaty, Washington and Moscow had coordinated the last details of the text, taking into account suggestions from a wide variety of sources. "To include new elements of importance to non-nuclears," Article IV incorporated a suggestion from Nigeria that "all parties undertake to facilitate fullest possible exchange" of information, equipment, and materials related to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Moreover, based on suggestions from African and Latin American countries, the "treaty now acknowledges specificallythat due consideration should be given to needs of the developing areas in peaceful uses." In addition, the preamble was "strengthened by adding that parties declare their intention 'toundertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament.'"

At this time the text of a U.N. General Assembly resolution was in the final stages of drafting. Approved by the General Assembly on 12 June 1968, it "commended" the NPT, instead of explicitly endorsing it, as a way to assure wider support by nations that had not yet made up their minds about adhering to the treaty. By the end of 1968, over 90 countries had signed the treaty.


[1]. For disarmament in international politics during the late 1960s and early 1960s, see David Tall, The American Nuclear Disarmament Dilemma, 1945-1963 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008),
[2]. For Mexico’s role in nuclear negotiations during the 1960s, see Jonathan Hunt, “Mexican Nuclear Diplomacy, the Latin American Nuclear Free Zone, and the NPT Grand Bargain,” in Roland Popp, Liviu Horowitz, and Andreas Wegner, eds., Negotiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Origins of the Nuclear Order(London: Routledge, 2017),178-202.
[3]. For a fine-grained account of the making of the treaty, based on the open public record, see Mohamed I. Shaker, The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Origin and Its Implementation, 1959-1979, 2 volumes (London, Oceana Publications, 1980).
[4]. For some of the controversy, see Lawrence Scheinman, Article IV of the NPT: Background, Problems and Some Prospects, Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission Paper No. 5, 7 June 2004; Christopher Ford, “Nuclear Technology Rights and Wrongs:The NPT, Article IV, and Nonproliferation,” Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, 1 June 2009;
[5]. James Acton, “What Does Article IV Mean?” Arms Control Wonk, 22 August 2008; William Burr, “To ‘Keep the Genie Bottled Up’: U.S. Diplomacy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Gas Centrifuge Technology, 1962–1972,” Journal of Cold War Studies19 (2017), 115–157.
[6]. Arka Biswas. “Iran Deal, NPT and the Norms of Nuclear Non-Proliferation,”The Diplomat, 18 February 2016.
[7]. For “grand bargain,” see for example, Leonard Weiss, “Nuclear-Weapon States and the Grand Bargain,” Arms Control Today, 1 December 2003; Matthew Harries, Disarmament as Politics: Lessons From the Negotiation of NPT Article VI, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Research Paper, 13 May 2015. The “grand bargain” was only one of the deals that made the treaty possible, e.g., the EURATOM understanding with Moscow and Washington on IAEA safeguards and the U.S.-Soviet agreement over Articles I and 11).
[8]. For “grand bargain,” see for example, Leonard Weiss, “Nuclear-Weapon States and the Grand Bargain,” Arms Control Today, 1 December 2003; Matthew Harries, Disarmament as Politics: Lessons From the Negotiation of NPT Article VI Research Paper, 13 May 2015, Royal Institute of International Affairs.The “grand bargain” was only one of the deals that made the treaty possible, e.g., the EURATOM understanding with Moscow and Washington on IAEA safeguards and the U.S.-Soviet agreement over Articles I and 11).
[9] . For thinking that informed the Bush administration’s approach, see Christopher A. Ford, “Debating Disarmament: Interpreting Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” The Nonproliferation Review 14 (2007): 401-428. For examples of criticism from the period, see Joseph Cirincione, “Strategic Collapse: The Failure of the Bush Nuclear Doctrine,” Arms Control Today, 3 November 2008; Declan Butler, Bush's legacy: The Wasted Years, Nature, 14 January 2009.
[10]. Kingston Reif, “New START and Nuclear Modernization,” The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 15 December 2010. See also, Don Cook, “An Insider’s View of Nuclear Weapons Modernization,” Arms Control Today, October 2016, which shows decreases in the destructive power of the U.S. nuclear arsenal during the Obama administration.
[11]. For the ban treaty and its implication, see Edward Ifft, “A Challenge to Nuclear Deterrence,” Arms Control Today, March 2017, and Hugh Gusterson, “The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (Not) In the News?,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 14 July 2017.
[12]. Alicia Sanders-Zakre, “Cluster 1 Revives Article VI Concerns, Shows Potential Cooperation on Interim Measures,” Arms Control Today, 27 April 2008; Lynn Rusten, “The Trump Administration’s ‘Wrong Track’ Nuclear Policies,” Arms Control Today, March 2018.
[13] . On Japanese public opinion, see, for example, Ikira Kurosaki, “Japanese Scientists’ Critique of Nuclear Deterrence Theory and Its Influence on Pugwash, 1954-1964,” Journal of Cold War Studies 20 (2018), 111-117.
[14]. Popp, Horowitz, and Wegner, Negotiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Origins of the Nuclear Order, 24.