Det danske Fredsakademi
Kronologi over fredssagen og international politik 26. maj 2011
/ Time Line May 26, 2011
25. Maj 2011, 27. Maj 2011
National Security Archive Update, May 26, 2011
USA: Mon ami atomique, the French Bomb, With Secret U.S.
Documents from Nixon and Ford Administrations Show U.S. Assistance
for French Nuclear Forces Earlier Than Previously Reported
Kissinger Sought to make French "Drool" for Nuclear Aid
Washington, D.C., May 26, 2011 - The U.S. government secretly
helped France develop its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile
program, and much earlier than previously realized, according to
declassified documents compiled and edited by National Security
Archive senior analyst William Burr and published jointly with the
Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, an Archive
Over twenty years ago, Princeton University political scientist
Richard Ullman revealed the existence of this program in a
headline-making article, "The Covert French Connection," published
in Foreign Policy magazine. Drawing upon interviews with former
officials, Ullman disclosed that the Nixon administration,
believing that a more effective French nuclear force was in the
U.S. interest, began a secret program in 1973 of information
sharing on ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons technology, and
nuclear weapons safety, which continued into the Ford
administration and beyond. The documents published today move the
timeline earlier, to 1970-71.
Ullman's most sensational revelation was that U.S. government
officials had circumvented atomic energy laws by providing the
French with indirect assistance to their nuclear weapons program.
Through "negative guidance," Washington indirectly--20-questions
style--helped the French perfect their nuclear warheads. Today's
publication fills out, and goes beyond the record established by
Ullman. Declassified documents indicate that:
* The French made the first move in December 1969, earlier than
Ullman's sources had indicated, when the Armaments Ministry asked
the Pentagon for assistance with the ballistic missile program.
* A key moment was a February 1970 meeting between President Nixon
and French president Georges Pompidou when the two tacitly agreed
on the possibility of "nuclear cooperation" which led Nixon to make
a "decision to be forthcoming" to French requests.
* Reflecting internal controversy within the U.S. government, in
1971 the Nixon administration made a decision on "minimal" aid:
besides assistance with nuclear safety and computer exports, the
United States would help France improve the reliability of existing
missiles, but not develop new ones.
* The French valued U.S. assistance on ballistic missile technology
(propulsion, quality control, reliability), but during 1972 and
early 1973 they stepped up pressure for more information, including
warhead miniaturization and "physics package" and
submarine-launched ballistic missile technology, so they could move
into the "next generation" of ballistic missiles.
* To make France's case for more advanced technology, during
mid-1973 defense minister Robert Galley met secretly twice with
senior U.S. officials, including national security adviser Henry
Kissinger and Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger.
* A key issue in these discussions was the possibility of "negative
guidance" which Kissinger said would allow Washington to "critique
what you are doing. We can say, 'That's the wrong way.'"
* Seeking to manipulate France for his European diplomacy,
Kissinger wanted to whet Galley's appetite for more information--to
make him "drool"--but "negative guidance" was controversial and it
is not clear when it actually became available.
* In June 1975, President Gerald Ford, continuing Nixon's efforts
to improve relations with Paris, updated the 1971 guidance by
authorizing aid to decrease the vulnerability of French missiles,
including reentry vehicles and missile hardening and information on
multiple reentry vehicle technology.
Read more about today's posting on the Web site of the Nuclear
Proliferation International History Project:
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