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 Atomic Energy / Disarmament


“Atomic Energy for Military Purposes: The Official Report on the Development of the Atomic Bomb Under the Auspices of the United States Government”

e.g. The Smyth Report

Henry De Wolf Smyth. Princeton University. August 12, 1945.

The Chairman of the Department of Physics at Princeton University, Henry De Wolf Smyth was a consultant to the U.S. government for the Manhattan Project.  His report on the development and use of the atomic bomb was released just three days after the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in order to detail the history of the project and the basic physical processes that enabled the bomb.

“Einstein Opposes Giving Secret of Atomic Bomb to United Nations.”

Joseph Nolan. Warsaw Daily Union. October 30, 1945.

Albert Einstein did not want to open up the possibility of two-thirds of the world’s population dying from nuclear war—a figure he considered possible if the “bomb’s secret” were to fall into the wrong hands via the U.N.

The Atomic Bomb: Should the United Nations Security Council Control it?

Sir Norman Angell. The Rotarian. November, 1945. pgs 14-17.

Two editorial columns that argue each side of the debate on whether the newly-formed U.N.O. (United Nations Organization as they called it at the time) should dictate the future of the atom.

The Acheson-Lilienthal Report: Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy

Department of State. U.S. Government Printing  Office. March 16, 1946.

After consultation with the Department of State, Maj. Gen. L. R. Groves called together a group, representative of the outstanding scientists connected with the Manhattan Project during the development of the atomic bomb and all of whom are still connected with the project either on a full-time or consulting basis. This group has met and has just completed a conference in which the measure of safety afforded by the use of denaturants was discussed. They prepared among other papers a report which can be released without jeopardizing security.

“U.N. to set up 12-Nation Disarmament Commission.”

The Day. Paris. January 11, 1952.

An article detailing the UN General Assembly’s 42-5 vote to set up a disarmament commission and an explanation of what the commission will entail.

“History has been made at Monte Bello.”

“Britain’s Atomic Weapons Test Is Climax to Brilliant Pioneer Research.”

The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. October 4, 1952.

The day after Britain successfully tested its first atomic weapon, the Australian newspaper details the history of atomic energy in the U.K. as well as what the bomb means to Britain, the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Atoms for Peace Speech

 December 8, 1953.

Address by Mr. Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, to the 470th Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

President Eisenhower’s address to the General Assembly in which he detailed the dangerous powers of atomic energy and called on the UN to create an agency that would foster peaceful uses of the atom—taking the weapons from the militaries that had them and placing them in the hands of scientists that could harness the power in ways that could better mankind.

Video of Speech

“May ask secret talk on atomic pool plan.”

The Milwaukee Journal. December 11, 1953.

The United States pushed for a subcommittee within the United Nations Disarmament Committee seeking to have only the nations with atomic resources as members.

"Tentative chronology of part played by scientists in decision to use the bomb against Japan" Subject File, Ayers Papers. May 29, 1957.

Timeline dating from early 1944 until the Japanese surrender in August, 1945 detailing scientists’ views with regards to use of the bomb as well as President Truman’s thoughts and meetings leading up to Hiroshima.

Atomic Energy and Education

This 1958 UNESCO document considers how to teach British children about atomic energy.

“Cuban Missile Crisis speech to the United Nations Security Council.”

Adlai Stevenson. October 25, 1962.

U.S. Ambassador addresses the UN Security Council and his Soviet counterpart, Valerian Zornin with evidence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s address to the nation on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

July 26, 1963

In his speech the President explains that the treaty will strengthen national security, lessen the risk and fear of radioactive fallout, reduce world tension by encouraging further dialogue, and prevent acquisition of nuclear weapons by nations not currently possessing them.

Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and under Water

Opened for signature: August 8, 1963. Entered into force: October 10, 1963.

The official treaty, signed by the U.S., Soviet Union, and UK that sought to end weapons test to “put an end to the contamination of man’s environment by radioactive substances.”

Robert Reinhold. “International Group of Physicists Gathers in Virginia to Warn of Nuclear; War’s Effects.” New York Times. March 21, 1981.

Physicians gather from all over the world describing how a single nuclear attack by the U.S., the Soviet Union or any other nation could deplete the entire stock of medical resources.  Their goal was to express “that society cannot survive nuclear war and that no strategic policy should be based on the idea that physicians will somehow save enough people to continue civilized life.”

“Soviets agree to U.S. plan to phase out chemical arms.”

Associated Press. The Milwaukee Journal. February 10, 1990.

The U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to eliminate their chemical weapons a full two years before the United Nations adopted the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“Clinton’s Words to the U.N.: Six Goals for a Nuclear-Safe Future.”

New York Times. September 25, 1996.

Excerpts from President Bill Clinton’s speech to the United Nations addressing things ranging from the nuclear weapons in newly-formed post-Soviet states to bringing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) into force as soon as possible.

October, 1962: the “missile” crisis as seen from Cuba

Tomas Acosta. Pathfinder. New York. 2002.

In October 1962, Washington pushed the world to the edge of nuclear war. Here, for the first time, the full story of that historic moment is told from the perspective of the Cuban people, whose determination to defend their sovereignty and their socialist revolution blocked U.S. plans for a military assault and saved humanity from the consequences of a nuclear holocaust.

Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction: National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 80

Jeff Richelson. George Washington University. February 11, 2004.

A timeline of events detailing U.N. involvement in Iraq after the Gulf War and leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003.

Public Health Response to Biological and Chemical Weapons: WHO Guidance.

World Health Organization. Geneva. 2004.

Analyses the public health aspects of the possible hostile use of biological or chemical agents. It describes how biological and chemical agents may endanger public health; provides the standard principles of risk analyses that Member States may undertake to prepare for the deliberate release of biological or chemical agents; and presents national and international laws including their potential role in mobilizing international assistance and available sources of such assistance.

“U.N Nuclear Agency Reports Iran to Security Council.”

John Anderson & Glenn Kessler. Washington Post. February 4, 2006.

After nearly three years of discussion, the IAEA decided to report Iran to the UN Security Council by a 27-3 vote.

“Testimony: Agent Orange in Vietnam: Recent Developments in Remediation

Matthew Palmer. U.S. Department of State. July 15, 2010. Washington D.C.

Palmer is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He gave testimony regarding the current relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam as well as the history of the attempted clean up of the southern Vietnam environment.

“2012 Nuclear Security Summit: The Korean Twist.”

Duyeon Kim. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Working Paper. June 2011.

An introduction to the 2010 summit as well as a discussion of the issues that need to be resolved, and the parties that have been invited to do so.

UN in $5m Agent Orange cleanup for Vietnam

United Nations. Hanoi, Vietnam. June 28, 2011.

The United Nations, in conjunction with the Vietnamese and American governments, has budgeted millions of dollars to clean up the damage caused by the use of Agent Orange.


Forum on Historians’ and Political Scientists’ Approaches to Nuclear Studies
ISSF Forum, No. 2, June 2014.
This forum includes articles by both historians and political scientist reflecting on current qualitative and quantitative approaches as well as the recent renaissance in nuclear security studies in both fields. By including articles by both historians and political scientists, the forum aims to bring the two disciplines into dialogue and to create greater exchange over both method and content.

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
Svetlana Aleksievich. Picador. New York. 1997.

The author conducts a series of interviews in the years following the Chernobyl disaster and recounts the stories of survivors, family members of those deceased, and many others. The result is an in-depth view into the region rocked by the worst maritime nuclear explosion in history.

Disarmament Without Order: The Politics of Disarmament at the United Nations
Avi Becker. Greenwood Press. 1985.

Becker argues that mechanisms of the UN have been handicapped in their grappling with arms control and weapons regulations.

 “The Atomic Bombings Reconsidered.”

Barton Bernstein. Foreign Affairs. Jan/Feb 1995. Pgs 135-152.

Fifty years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America should ask itself why Japanese civilians became targets during World War II. Recently declassified documents suggest that Tokyo probably would have surrendered without the bombings or an Allied invasion of Japan. In the moral climate of 1945, however, there were few dissenters. "When you have to deal with a beast," Truman wrote, "you have to treat him as a beast."

Saddam, Israel, and the Bomb: Nuclear Alarmism Justified?
Hal Brands and David Palkki, International Security 36, 1 (Summer 2011): 133-166.

“A History of the Atomic Energy Commission”

Alice Buck. U.S. Department of Energy. July, 1983

A look at the United States’ Atomic Energy Commission—an organization that developed parallel to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC) before the latter was disbanded in 1952 in favor of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons

John Burroughs. Lit Verlang. Münster, Germany. August, 1998.

Burroughs dives into the “historic opinion of the International Court of Justice” with regards to the use of nuclear weapons from immediately following WWII through Chernobyl and beyond.

‘General, I Have Fought Just as Many Nuclear Wars as You Have’: Forecasts, Future Scenarios, and the Politics of Armageddon
Matthew Connelly et al., The American Historical Review 117, 5 (2012): 1431-1460.

Chemical and biological warfare: an annotated bibliography
Eric Croddy. Scarecrow Press. Lanham, Maryland, USA. 1997.

A guide detailing readings on the background, science, policy, and more on chemical and biological weapons.

Small arms control: old weapons, new issues
Jayantha Dhanapala. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Geneva. 1999.

Originally prepared for four workshops organized by the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs to inform the work of the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, held during 1995-1996, the 30-some papers collected in this volume present the work of some of the world's leading experts on small arms proliferation. Contributors include independent scholars and government and military officials.

 “Unsung Mediator: U Thant and the Cuban Missile Crisis"

A. Walter Dorn and Robert Pauk. Diplomatic History. Vol. 33 No. 2 (2009).

On October 16, 1962, President Kennedy learned that the Soviet Union was building nuclear missile installations in Cuba. In the deepening crisis, the United Nations, and specifically Secretary General Thant, was to play a significant role in de-escalating and the resolving the nuclear standoff between the superpowers.

Making a Global Chemical Weapons Ban Work.

Lewis A. Dunn. Westview Press. Boulder, CO. 1993.

Now that the CWC has been signed, it is time to get down to the practical matters in making a CW ban achievable. Verification remains a difficult hurdle, and security arrangements for those nations at risk to CW attack, particularly to those nations who are not willing to comply with the CWC, must be addressed.

History of the International Atomic Energy Agency : the first forty years

David Fischer. — Vienna : The Agency, 1997.

(specifically chapters 1-4)

An in-depth history of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—founded as a part of the United Nations Family and headquartered in Vienna, Austria.  From the first reports of German chemists “splitting the atom” in 1939 through U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s proposal at the General Assembly to create an international agency dedicated to the transition of nuclear energy from militaristic to peaceful purposes. It transitions to the issues that the IAEA has handled over the past four decades as well as those that it must face in the years to come.

The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy

Lawrence Freedman. Palgrave Macmillan. 2003.

First published 20 years ago, Lawrence Freedman's Evolution of Nuclear Strategy was immediately acclaimed as the standard work on the history of attempts to cope militarily and politically with the terrible destructive power of nuclear weapons. It has now been rewritten, drawing on a wide range of new research, and updated to take account of the period following the end of the cold war, taking the story to contemporary arguments about missile defense.

The History of Warfare: Cold War

Lawrence Freedman. Cassell. 2001.

World War Two left two compelling, indelible images that colored the decades to come: the immense force of the Soviet Union's Red Army and the horrific devastation wrought by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki. For the next half-century, the great powers prepared themselves for another, deadlier international conflagration...one that never happened. Politicians and strategists devoted time, intellectual energy, and financial resources figuring out how to fight--or avoid--nuclear war; meanwhile the industrial complex dedicated itself to producing ever more complex weaponry. 

Atomic Assistance: How "Atoms for Peace" Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity
Matthew Fuhrmann, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012.

Politics, History and the Ivory Tower-Policy Gap in the Nuclear Proliferation Debate
Francis J. Gavin, Journal of Strategic Studies 35, 4 (August 2012): 573-600,

Our way to peace in the atomic age, a study of the United Nations charter

Robert A. Graham. The America Press. New York, NY. 1945.

Graham takes a look at the way the United Nations charter should be interpreted to deal with the ramifications of the recent atomic bomb.

"Atomic Maverick: Romania's negotiations for nuclear technology, 1964-1970."

Eliza Gheorghe. Cold War History 13.3. August 2013.

Review on H-Diplo .

Exorcising Ghosts in the Age of Automation: United Nations Experts and Atoms for Peace

Jacob Hamblin. Technology and Culture. 47 (2006), pp. 734–756.

"Let There be Light… and Bread: The United Nations, the Developing World, and Atomic Energy's Green Revolution"

Jacob Hamblin. History and Technology. 25.1 (2009), pp. 25-48.

A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission

The New World: 1939-1946, Volume

Atomic Shield: 1947-1952, Volume II

Atoms for Peace and War: 1953-1961, Volume III

Richard Hewlett. Pennsylvania State University Press. 1962.

This authoritative volume presents a detailed, documented history of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) from 1947 to 1952. It begins with the assumption of responsibility for the nation's nuclear energy programs by the Commission and concludes with the detonation of the first thermonuclear device.

“Anatomy of a Controversey: Anatoly F. Dobrynin’s Meeting with Robert F. Kennedy, Saturday, 27 October 1962.”

Jim Hershberg. The Cold Ward International History Project Bulletin. Issue 5, Spring 1995.

A meeting between U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin was the conversation that officially brought the Cuban Missile Crisis to a close. President Kennedy did not want to do so publicly, so he relayed the message to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev through his brother.

Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956

David Holloway. Yale University Press. New Haven, Connecticut. 1994.

The book explores the history of Soviet nuclear policy and investigates the role of espionage and American atomic power.

The German Atomic Bomb: The History of Nuclear Research in Nazi Germany

David Irving. Simon & Schuster. New York. 1968.

This book tells the story of German nuclear research from 1930's to 1945. It shows the history of the nuclear chemistry germane to the nuclear bomb and then tells the story of experiments and internal politics in the Third Reich. For instance, an error was made in an experiment to test the suitability of carbon as a moderator in reactors. This forced the Germans to rely on heavy water, and the only large scale production in the world at that time was in Norway, something addressed by the British in 1943.

The United Nations and Iraq: defanging the viper

Jean Krasno & James Sutterlin. Praeger. Westport, CT. 2003

Following the Gulf War from 1991 to 1998, the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) was created to unveil and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction through inspections. This study describes how UNSCOM was designed to maintain its independence and authority, detailing the dramatic events that occurred as UNSCOM attempted to deal with an intransigent Iraq.

Atoms for Peace, Scientific Internationalism, and Scientific Intelligence
John Krige, Orisis 21 (2006), p. 161-181.

Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons
Matthew Kroenig, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010.

The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor
William Langewiesche, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York. 2007.

Langewiesche asserts that there is no way to prevent Third World countries from obtaining nuclear weapons. We can only "accept the equalities of a maturing world in which many countries have acquired atomic bombs, and some may use them," he claims.

Biological Weapons: limiting the threat

Joshua Lederberg. MIT Press. Cambridge. 1999.

Biological weapons pose a horrifying and growing threat to the United States and to the world in general. Revelations about Iraq's weapons research and the plans of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan serve as frightening reminders of the potential for military or terrorist use of biological agents.

Pearson and Canada’s role in nuclear disarmament and arms control negotiation 1945-1957.

Joseph Levitt. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Quebec. 1993.

The Canadian diplomatic perspective of the early years of the Cold War and the escalating tensions around possible nuclear proliferation between the U.S. and the USSR.

“The Future of Biological Weapons Control”

Jez Littlewood. The International Biotechnology Investigating Global Futures. Manchester University Press. 2000. Pgs 186-196.

The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which prohibits the acquisition of biological materials for hostile purposes and armed conflict, entered into force in 1975 and now has the participation of 140 nations (158 nations have signed the BWC, but only 140 of these have also ratified it). However, there is no monitoring mechanism associated with the BWC. Diplomatic efforts are now under way to create a supplemental, legally binding protocol to strengthen the convention.

Controlling the Atom: The Beginnings of Nuclear Regulation, 1946-1962

George T. Mazuzan and J. Samuel Walker. University of California Press. Berkeley. 1985.

Mazuzan and Walker trace the development of regulatory legislation on nuclear energy and radioactive substances in the U.S. The full text is available on Google Books .

Getting to Zero: The Path to Nuclear Disarmament

Catherine McArdle Kelleher and Judith Reppy (eds.). Stanford University Press. Stanford, California. 2011.

This edited volume examines the history of nuclear weapons control, provides perspectives on current policy questions, and suggest practical ideas to achieve nuclear zero.

The International Atomic Energy Agency

Russell Olwell & Peggy Kahn. Infobase Publishing, 2008.

The IAEA is best known for its inspections of suspected nuclear weapons facilities across the world, but the agency has a host of responsibilities. Whether it is encouraging the use of nuclear energy, setting safety standards for radiation exposure, or using radiation to stamp out dangerous pests, the IAEA has an impact across the planet. Once an autonomous organization, the IAEA is now a part of the United Nations and is often referred to by the media as the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.

Special Issue: The Origins of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime
Roland Popp and Andreas Wenger, eds., The International History Review 36, no. 2. March, 2014.
The articles in this special issue examine how the superpowers cooperated and engaged in alliance politics to create a regime of nuclear non-proliferation. They include articles on US-European relations, Brazilian-Argentine rapprochement, and the struggle over Euratom in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Madman Nuclear Alert: Secrecy, Signaling, and Safety in October 1969
Scott D. Sagan and Jeremi Suri, International Security 27, 4 (Spring 2003): 150-183.

Political Scientists and Historians in Search of the Bomb
Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz,  Journal of Strategic Studies 36, 1 (March 2013): 143-151.

The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis

Sheldon M. Stern. Stanford University Press. January, 2005.

Based on the author’s authoritative transcriptions of the secretly recorded ExComm meetings, the book conveys the emotional ambiance of the meetings by capturing striking moments of tension and anger as well as occasional humorous intervals. Unlike today's readers, the participants did not have the luxury of knowing how this potentially catastrophic showdown would turn out, and their uncertainty often gives their discussions the nerve-racking quality of a fictional thriller. As President Kennedy told his advisers, “What we are doing is throwing down a card on the table in a game which we don't know the ending of.”

Nuclear Apartheid: The Quest for Atomic Supremacy From World War II to the Present

Shane J. Maddock. University of North Carolina Press.2010.

After World War II, an atomic hierarchy emerged in the noncommunist world. Washington was at the top, followed over time by its NATO allies and then Israel, with the postcolonial world completely shut out. An Indian diplomat called the system "nuclear apartheid." Drawing on recently declassified sources from U.S. and international archives, Shane Maddock offers the first full-length study of nuclear apartheid, casting a spotlight on an ideological outlook that nurtured atomic inequality and established the United States--in its own mind--as the most legitimate nuclear power.

At the Edge of the Abyss: A Declassified Documentary of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Lenny Flank. Red and Black Publishers. 2010.

In the last two weeks of October 1962, the world came closer to nuclear warfare than it ever has. For 14 tense days, United States President John F Kennedy and Soviet Premiere Nikita Kruschev stood eyeball to eyeball, each with his hand on the nuclear trigger. In the end, both sides blinked.

The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Concise History

Don Munton & David Welch. Oxford University Press. 2011.

The authors distill the best current scholarship on the Cuban missile crisis into a brief and accessible narrative history. The authors draw on newly available documents to provide a comprehensive treatment of its causes, events, consequences, and significance. Stressing the importance of context in relation to the genesis, conduct, and resolution of the crisis, they examine events from the U.S., Soviet, and Cuban angles, revealing the vital role that differences in national perspectives played at every stage.

For H-Diplo roundtable on this book, see here.

Destroying Surplus Weapons: An Assessment of Experience in South Africa and Lesotho

Sarah Meek & Noel Stott. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Geneva. 2003.

In the world of arms control and disarmament there have been far too few success stories lately and so it is with great pleasure that the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Small Arms Survey (SAS) are able to produce this evaluation of the experiences of South Africa and Lesotho in destroying surplus small arms and light weapons and the responsible management of their stockpiles.

 “Prospects for the NPT in South Asia.”

Ziba Moshaver. Contemporary South Asia. Vol. 1, No. 3, 1992.

Examines the prospects for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in South Asia, focusing on India and Pakistan.

Nuclear Weapons and International Law in the Post Cold War World.

Charles J. Moxley, Jr. Austin & Winfield. University Press of America. 2000.

This book addresses the issue of the legality of the use of nuclear weapons under international law. Moxley analyzes the question in light of the July 1996 advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice, the law as articulated by the United States, and generally recognized facts as to the characteristics and effects of nuclear weapons. He concludes that the use of nuclear weapons is per se unlawful under the rules of international law and facts recognized by the United States.

National Internationalists: British and West German Protests against Nuclear Weapons, the Politics of Transnational Communications and the Social History of the Cold War, 1957-1964

Holger Nehring. Contemporary European History 14, no. 4 (2005).

Nehring examines protests against nuclear weapons as a means to create symbols and to establish a particular public sphere through "street politics." He compares and contrasts British and West German protests against nuclear weapons, showing that the different campaigns and mobilizing slogans depended very much on national cultural contexts.

Humanitarian Aid or Private Diplomacy? Norman Cousins and the Treatment of Atomic Bomb Victims

Allen Pietrobon. New Global Studies 8.1 (2014). pp. 121-140.

The Small Arms Problem in Central Asia: Features and Implications

Bobi Pirseyedi. Stationary Office Books. 2000.

The publication examines the small arms problem in Afghanistan which dates to the Cold War years, the conflict in Tajikistan, and small arms and the latent threats to stability. The publication emphasizes that practical measures aimed at the amelioration of the small arms problem have to be based on a broad conception of small arms control.

Minutes to midnight; the international control of atomic energy

Eugene Rabinowitch. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Chicago. 1950.

A bulletin by the Atomic Scientists that details the “most crucial problem of the time” from its inception in 1945 to present (then 1950).

Limiting the proliferation of weapons: the role of supply-side strategies.

Jean-Francois Rioux. Carleton University Press. Ontario. 1992.

An international team of arms-control experts addresses important questions raised by the use of export sales restrictions in controlling the spread of weapons. The examination covers vital issues relating to ballistic missiles, as well as to nuclear, chemical, biological and conventional weapons

“Did ‘Peace Through Strength’ End the Cold War? Lessons from INF.”

Thomas Risse-Kappen. International Security. Pgs 162-188. Summer 1991.

Two debates rage on after the collapse of the USSR. One: will post-Cold War Europe be a safer or more dangerous place and two: did “peace through strength” by the western powers lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union?

A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and Its Legacies

Martin J. Sherwin. Stanford University Press. Palo Alto. 2003.

This is the history of the development of the American atomic bomb, the decision to use it against Japan, and the origins of U.S. atomic diplomacy toward the Soviet Union.

Losing an Empire and Finding a Role: Britain, the USA, NATO and Nuclear Weapons, 1964-1970

Kristan Stoddart. Palgrave Macmillan. New York. 2012.

Using newly declassified British documents on nuclear policy in the 1960s, Stoddart traces the evolution of Britain's policy, particularly its turn from a global focus to NATO.

The Nuclear Renaissance and International Security

Adam N. Stulberg, Matthew Fuhrmann, eds. Palo Alto  Stanford University Press. 2013.

This book explores the relationship between nuclear energy and international relations theory. See a review on H-Diplo here.

“The Implications of the Atomic Bomb for International Relations.”

Jacob Viner. International Economics. The Free Press. 1951. Pgs 300-309.

Viner brings to the forefront the way in which international relations will change as atomic weapons will begin to target cities rather than military bases—meaning the wives and children of soldiers might be in more danger than those actually fighting.

A Short History of Nuclear Regulation, 1946-1990

J. Samuel Walker. Office of the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Washington, DC. 1993.

This book provides an overview of nuclear energy legislation and safety regulations for radioactive substances as well as a history of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission up to 1990. Walker has subsequently published on Three Mile Island and the development of radioactive waste policy in the United States.  

Containing the Atom: Nuclear Regulation in a Changing Environment, 1963-1971

J. Samuel Walker. University of California Press. Berkeley. 1991.

This continues the history started in Mazuzan and Walker, Controlling the Atom: The Beginnings of Nuclear Regulation, 1946-1962. It examines nuclear regulation in the United States through the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The full text is available in Google Book .

"Engineering Uncertainty and Bureaucratic Crisis at the Atomic Energy Commission, 1964-1973"

Thomas R. Wellock, Technology & Culture 53.4 (2012), pp. 946-884.

“Nuclear Terrorism and Warhead Control in Russia.”

Jon Wolfsthal & Tom Collina. Survival. Vol. 44 No. 2. Summer 2002. Pgs 71-84.

Security concerns post-September 11th bring about intense discussions between the U.S. and Russia as to the safety of their nuclear stockpiles.

Biological Warfare and Disarmament: New Problems, New Perspectives

Susan Wright. Roham & Littlefield. Lanham. 2002.

Biological Warfare and Disarmament takes an original look at the problem of biological warfare and the challenge of achieving biological disarmament. Approaches to the issue have been overwhelmingly dominated by a Western--and particularly U.S.--perspective that reduces the question to the spread of these weapons among non-Western countries and non-state actors. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, this position has hardened, giving rise to a strongly polarized discourse that embraces nuclear weapons as the ultimate key to security.

“U.N. commission sifts through rubble.”

Jim Wurst. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. September, 1991.

After the end of the Gulf War in the early 1990’s, UN Security Council resolution 687 mandated the removal of atomic weapons in Iraq—a task that proved more difficult than originally perceived.

Waqar Zaidi, "'A Blessing in Disguise': Reconstructing International Relations through Atomic Energy, 1945-1948," Past & Present supplement 6, vol. 210 (January 2011), pp. 309-331.



Nuclear Science Abstracts (NSA)

A comprehensive collection of international nuclear science and technology literature from 1948-1976 (pre-dating the INIS database).

The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

A series of documents and correspondences from the Harry S. Truman Library that date from 1945-1964.

The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb: Truman and the Bomb, a Documentary History


The Power Reactor Information System, covers two kinds of data: general and design information on power reactors, and information about operating experience with nuclear power plants. General and design information covers all reactors that are in operation, under construction, or shut-down in IAEA Member States, and in Taiwan, China. Data on operating experience cover operational reactors, and historical data cover shutdown reactors, in IAEA Member States and in Taiwan, China. In these areas PRIS is considered the most complete and authoritative source of statistical data.

Lectures on Arms Control and Disarmament

This UN site hosts several lectures on nuclear disarmament and international law by Masahiko Asada, and chemical weapons by Santiago Onate Laborde.

United Nations Library of International Law

This site provides comprehensive introductions, histories, primary source documents and status of various disarmament treaties, including the Convention on Prohibitions of Certain Conventional Weapons (1980), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996) and the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines (1997). The site is constantly updated with work on other treaties.

United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) &mdashan autonomous institute within the United Nations &mdashconducts research on disarmament and security with the aim of assisting the international community in their disarmament thinking, decisions and efforts.

UNODA Military Expenditures Database (MilEx)

Originally intended to achieve a reduction in military expenditure starting in 1981, the goal was later changed (after the Cold War) to simply track governments’ spending on their military.

United Nations Register of Conventional Arms

If States behave in a predictable and transparent way, including being open about arms transfers, this could build confidence among them and help prevent conflict. For this purpose, governments can report to the UN Register of Conventional Arms. The Register is an important tool, giving practical significance to the concept of 'transparency in armaments'.

Biological Weapons Convention: Background Information

Convenient quick-reference guide to the BWC put together by The Implementation Support Unit of the BWC that details the convention and its six Review Conferences as well as the immense global support it receives.

Biological Weapons Convention

Additional understandings and agreements reached by review conferences relating to the BWC

An expanded document showing the actual text of each of the 15 Articles in the BWC, including “additional understandings” that have been reached in the years since its drafting in 1972.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Convention is the first disarmament agreement negotiated within a multilateral framework that provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. It prohibits all development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical weapons. It requires each State Party to destroy chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities it possesses, as well as any chemical weapons it may have abandoned on the territory of another State Party.

Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction

The Avalon Project—The Cuban Missile Crisis

Yale Law School. Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Numerous U.S. documents detailing the escalation and eventual agreement that brought the world the closest it has ever been to nuclear war.

The Scientific History of the Atomic Bomb

“Third World Joins the Nuclear Club.”

BBC Online Network. May 13, 1998.

A timeline showing the history of atomic weapons in countries around the world and various encounters when each nation was on the verge of actually using its nuclear arsenal.


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The IAEA Bulletin (published since 1959)

The IAEA is the world's center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s "Atoms for Peace" organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

INIS represents a wealth of experience and an extensive pool of information in the nuclear field. The first INIS output products, the printed Atomindex and associated magnetic tapes, were issued in April 1970. INIS has since grown into one of the most successful and comprehensive information systems on the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.

United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)

The Office promotes: nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the strengthening of the disarmament regimes in respect to other weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, and disarmament efforts in the area of conventional weapons, especially landmines and small arms, which are the weapons of choice in contemporary conflicts.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)

The Conference on Disarmament, established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, was a result of the first Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations General Assembly held in 1978.

United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC)

Created in 1952 by a General Assembly resolution that placed it under the Security Council, it was the supreme UN body on disarmament questions and recommendations.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

The structure of a treaty to uphold nuclear non-proliferation as a norm of international behavior had become clear by the mid-1960s, and by 1968 final agreement had been reached on a Treaty that would prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, enable co-operation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

The Nuclear Suppliers Group is a group of nuclear supplier countries which seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear related exports. 

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

As the implementing body for the CWC, the organization is tasked with implementing and maintaining compliance with the CWC’s provisions.