After India's detonation of a nuclear explosive in 1974 publicly demonstrated the proliferation risks from nuclear assistance, the U.S. government increased its efforts to control nuclear exports worldwide. In doing so, U.S. policymakers faced challenges from two major West European allies, France and West Germany, both of which pursued their commercial interests through nuclear exports to countries such as Pakistan, Brazil, Iran, and India, among others. Despite multilateral efforts including the formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and bilateral negotiations with the supplier governments, the administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter attained only partial success. The commercial interests of nuclear firms, the influence of pro-export coalitions inside supplier countries, and the emerging importance of the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries as alternative suppliers influenced the outcome. The United States was more successful in restraining the French through a series of quid pro quo arrangements than it ever was with the West Germans. Using recently declassified archival documents, this article sheds new light on U.S. nonproliferation policy in the aftermath of the 1973 oil price shock.

We would like it to appear that our policy in this area is independent even though it is coordinated with you… . So if you are going to make a statement, we would like to know beforehand so we could issue something beforehand.

Louis de Guiringaud to Henry Kissinger and President Gerald Ford,1 October 19761

While insisting on the immutability of the agreement with Brazil, [Assistant Secretary Hans] Lautenschlager said something had to be done to meet the concerns expressed by President-elect Carter.

U.S. Ambassador Walter Stoessel to Henry Kissinger,23 December 19762

Kissinger's brief visit to South Asia does not have the appearance of having accomplished anything of substance.

Indian Embassy in Washington to Ministry of External Affairs,New Delhi, 15 August 19763

When news of India's underground nuclear explosion reached Washington, DC, on 18 May 1974, the reaction from U.S. policymakers was remarkably subdued. Mired in the Watergate scandal, the Nixon administration played down the significance of the Indian nuclear test. Even so, the detonation in the Rajasthan Desert, which the Indian government called a “peaceful nuclear explosion,” was a serious blow to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) that had entered into force only four years earlier, in 1970. Despite the low-key official U.S. reaction to New Delhi's nuclear test, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger initiated a wide-ranging review of U.S. nonproliferation policy that culminated in a U.S.-led multilateral effort to form a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) responsible for harmonizing the nuclear export policies of major supplier states.4 France and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), two of the seven original members of the NSG and two key supplier countries at the time, expressed frequent opposition to U.S. efforts to strengthen export controls.5 Nuclear exports were lucrative, and thus neither Paris nor Bonn was eager to restrict the trade. If consensus had to be reached, multilateral summitry like the NSG meetings had to be complemented with private bilateral negotiations between the United States and the supplier governments.6 These bilateral discussions were often protracted and acrimonious.

This article examines U.S. efforts to enhance export controls on nuclear transfers by two major West European allies in 1974–1978 and the implications of these efforts for the nuclear nonproliferation regime.7 The term “whack-a-mole” conveys the difficulty U.S. policymakers faced in implementing their global nonproliferation efforts on the “supply side.”8 In the supplier countries the private firms that offered nuclear assistance were often in formal or informal coalitions with pro-export groupings in government bureaucracies and national nuclear energy commissions. Because of the multiplicity of actors and the diverse considerations involved in the supply of nuclear technologies, materials, and equipment, U.S. officials struggled to impose controls. Each time an opponent was defeated or “whacked,” it rapidly resurfaced. As the subsequent sections of this article reveal, government-industry relations in France and the FRG—centralized in the former, decentralized in the latter—posed a distinct set of problems for U.S. nonproliferation efforts. More important, the unique character of the city of Berlin in the East-West divide of the Cold War became a source of major concern for the three occupying powers of West Berlin, who were themselves NSG members. These countries worried about how the NSG guidelines could be implemented in the case of the private firms based in West Berlin in the era of superpower détente and Ostpolitik.9

At the core of this whack-a-mole game was the lack of a shared perspective: France and the FRG did not fully share U.S. concerns that nuclear proliferation threatened international security. They also did not agree on what kinds of nuclear exports could more readily lead to nuclear proliferation. Moreover, the two West European allies were concerned about the survival and well-being of their nuclear industries, which needed exports in the face of a near-saturated national market (France) and declining domestic demand and anti-nuclear activism (FRG). Renewed interest in nuclear energy in the wake of the 1973 oil price shock was a welcome development for these two supplier countries, and they perceived U.S. efforts to curb their nuclear exports as “unfair.”10

The U.S. policy of cracking down on West European nuclear exports was not merely a response to India's 1974 nuclear test. A strong economic logic was also at play. In the latter half of the 1970s, the U.S. position as the most important nuclear supplier was on the decline, whereas both France and the FRG had sharply increased their market shares of nuclear plant sales.11 In the latter half of the 1960s, France held a market share of 5.5 percent of nuclear plants exported to the non-Communist world; whereas a decade later the French share had risen to 18 percent. For West Germany, the market share for nuclear plants sold to the non-Communist world increased from 7.5 percent in 1965–1969 to 20 percent in 1975–1979. Thus, the two industrially advanced West European countries were fast becoming the leading actors in the global nuclear marketplace.

Apart from the lack of a shared perspective on nonproliferation and economic competition with the United States, a third factor also contributed to the game of whack-a-mole; namely, declining U.S. credibility as a reliable nuclear supplier. In July 1974, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (USAEC) unilaterally decided to suspend the signing of long-term enrichment contracts. This sudden act hit the West European and Japanese governments hard, insofar as they depended on U.S.-supplied low-enriched uranium to operate their light-water reactors. This commercially motivated move by the USAEC to relinquish less lucrative activities caused much consternation among U.S. allies and raised doubts about Washington's reliability as a nuclear supplier. This gave countries such as France and the FRG additional impetus to develop their expertise in full fuel-cycle technologies and to sell them abroad. Bonn's attempt to sell an untested jet-nozzle technology for uranium enrichment to Brazil is a case in point.12

The nascent historiography of U.S. nonproliferation policy is characterized by three major intellectual strands. The first suggests that the United States consistently gave highest priority to its goal of nonproliferation and went to extraordinary lengths to achieve that goal—so much so that nonproliferation was integral to U.S. grand strategy.13 A somewhat scaled-back version of this argument is presented by political scientists and historians who depict the U.S. commitment to nonproliferation as consistently robust, even though they do not link it to U.S. grand strategy.14 The second intellectual strand includes scholars who contend that the U.S. commitment to nonproliferation varied over time (depending on the specific presidential administration); that U.S. geopolitical interests frequently triumphed over nonproliferation concerns; and that the United States concluded “deals” with proliferators to obfuscate public knowledge of their nuclear weapons programs.15 The third strand, of which this article is a part, examines the role of technology and economics to highlight the innovative policy options adopted by U.S. policymakers to attain nonproliferation goals. Scholars who pursue this line of study examine the plethora of multilateral and bilateral initiatives adopted by the United States to prevent, stall, or divert the nuclear weapons ambitions of other countries.16 By foregrounding technological and economic factors, this body of scholarship highlights the tools and mechanisms of U.S. nonproliferation efforts that the first two strands miss because of their emphasis on diplomacy at the high table and on coercive strategies.

This article first examines the multilateral nonproliferation efforts undertaken by the Ford and Carter administrations—notably, the formation of the NSG—and domestic legislation such as the Glenn and Symington Amendments and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act. The article then analyzes the nature of French and West German nuclear assistance. The third section considers how French nuclear assistance to Pakistan on reprocessing prompted a U.S. quid pro quo to France in order to draw Paris into closer cooperation with Washington on nonproliferation. The fourth section assesses West German assistance to India for heavy-water plants and traces how the East-West divide played out in that case. The article concludes by summarizing the findings and underlining broader implications for the scholarly literature on U.S. nonproliferation policy.

Presidents Ford and Carter Harmonize Nuclear Export Controls

Section 2 of Article III of the NPT underlines the obligations of its signatories to accept export control measures but does not state the exact nature of legislative requirements.17 As a result, soon after the NPT entered into force in March 1970, a group of NPT signatories and prospective signatories held a series of confidential meetings in Vienna (from 1971 onward) chaired by Swiss professor Claude Zangger to discuss the implementation of Article III, Section 2 of the treaty. This grouping of states called itself the NPT Exporters Committee and was informally known as the Zangger Committee, after the first chairman. The goal of the Zangger Committee was to devise a list of commodities that would be subject to export controls through a set of common guidelines accepted by its members. These guidelines or “understandings” were not legally binding; rather, their goal was to harmonize the national export policy declarations of its members.18 The core aims of the committee were, on the one hand, to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons from uncontrolled trade in nuclear technologies, materials, and equipment and, on the other hand, to ensure that major nuclear suppliers conformed to similar export control guidelines so that no exporter could gain an unfair competitive advantage over another. Given the ambivalence of nuclear technologies—the thin line between military and civilian uses—developing guidelines to control their exports was not easy.19 The Zangger Committee's “trigger list,” comprising nuclear exports that posed high proliferation risks, was determined on the basis not of technical but of political and commercial criteria.20 Not only did this make consensus on multilateral export control platforms difficult to attain, it also underlined the inherent political nature of the task of defining which exports pose proliferation risks.

A major impediment for the Zangger Committee in its early years was that France was a key nuclear exporter but not a signatory to the NPT and therefore not part of the Zangger Committee. Without bringing Paris into harmonized export control guidelines, the nonproliferation regime risked remaining weak.21 The issue of French participation in any future multilateral effort in export controls was therefore of paramount importance. By including France in the NSG (originally known as the London Suppliers Conference), one major loophole in the nonproliferation regime—namely, harmonizing nuclear export controls independent of NPT membership—could be plugged.22 By 1972, the Zangger Committee had developed its “trigger list,” and in August 1974 it published the guidelines, around the same time that Nixon resigned in disgrace.23

The U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy review in the aftermath of the 1974 Indian nuclear test was set out in National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 202 of May 1974 and National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM) 255 of June 1974. Although NSDM 255 underlined the importance of a conference of nuclear suppliers to coordinate export policy to prevent proliferation, NSSM 202 called for a complete review of U.S. policy toward the NPT.24 A December 1974 study by Gerald Ford's National Security Council (NSC) staff noted that although the United States was the dominant international nuclear supplier, its leverage in global nuclear commerce was diminishing: “Loss of U.S. dominance in the peaceful nuclear area could allow customers to deal with other suppliers who impose less rigorous controls on sensitive material, equipment and technology.” As a result, a “conference of nuclear industrialized states would provide a unique opportunity for realizing such a coordinated approach.”25 The study added that Soviet and French participation were crucial to the implementation of the nuclear suppliers conference.

By the end of 1974, it had become clear that U.S. nonproliferation policy constituted four key elements. First, a nuclear suppliers conference comprising the major industrialized countries—mostly West European states, Japan, and Australia—would be established with the close cooperation of the United Kingdom and Canada. The aim would be to help coordinate nuclear exports. Second, the United States would give a major push in favor of ratification of the NPT by industrialized countries that were also major nuclear exporters, such as the FRG, Italy, and Japan, especially in anticipation of the 1975 NPT Review Conference. Third, the “peaceful nuclear explosion (PNE) loophole” had to be eradicated. This was done by seeking assurances from India that U.S. shipments of fuel for Tarapur reactors would not be used in future nuclear explosions, by strongly discouraging indigenous PNE programs, and by signing the Threshold Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union to prevent nuclear tests of devices with yields higher than 150 kilotons. Fourth, demands of countries for enrichment and reprocessing were to be met through multilateral facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to offset indigenous development of capabilities and diversion of materials and technology for military purposes.26

By early 1975, when the first NSG meetings were held in London, extensive transatlantic differences were apparent.27 West European governments suspected that U.S. calls for strict controls to prevent proliferation were designed to offset European commercial gains from nuclear exports.28 The formation of the NSG did not sit well either with members of the nuclear industry or with some developing countries. On the one hand, the industry was anxious about the commercial losses it might incur if orders were canceled by recipients upset by the new restrictions. On the other hand, developing countries that sought nuclear assistance at the time—for example, Iran, Brazil, and Yugoslavia—called the NSG a violation of Article IV of the NPT.29 These countries insisted that the “grand bargain” of the NPT—whereby non-nuclear weapons states renounced the development of nuclear weapons for access to peaceful nuclear assistance—was being held hostage by NSG guidelines.30 During Jimmy Carter's presidency, representatives from the nuclear industry in the United States and elsewhere, leaders of Third World countries, and U.S. officials met in Shiraz, Iran, at the invitation of the Shah to voice their concerns about Carter's nonproliferation policy in what became known as the “Persepolis Declaration” of 1977.31

Under both Ford and Carter, key U.S. domestic legislation on nonproliferation sanctions was passed, including the Symington Amendment of 1976, the Glenn Amendment of 1977, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act (NNPA) of 1978. The Symington Amendment, adding Section 669 to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, was proposed by Stuart Symington (D-Missouri) and passed by the U.S. Congress on 30 June 1976. This amendment prohibited all U.S. economic and military aid to any country exporting or importing reprocessing and enrichment facilities and related materials and technology without full-scope safeguards. In August 1977, the Glenn amendment, named for Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio), replaced Section 669 of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act with a new section that solely dealt with uranium enrichment and nuclear transfers. In addition, the amendment added Section 670 on nuclear transfers related to reprocessing.32

The Carter administration's efforts to make far-reaching changes in U.S. domestic and international nuclear policies—codified in Presidential Directive 8—culminated in the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE), a multilateral study launched in October 1977 to assess the proliferation risks of nuclear fuel cycles, particularly the viability of plutonium reprocessing and breeder reactors.33 The Carter administration hoped the INFCE would facilitate U.S. nonproliferation goals abroad by creating awareness among suppliers and recipients about the proliferation dangers from civilian nuclear programs, unlike the NSG, which involved suppliers only.

Given the extensive modifications to existing export and import policies that Washington sought from foreign countries—particularly the call to give up breeder reactors as a way to tackle the plutonium economy—key officials such as Joseph S. Nye and Robert Fri realized that U.S. policy goals could be attained only through a consultative process and not a coercive policy.34 Over the next two years, the INFCE overshadowed the NSG. Suppliers and recipients were invited to come together to tackle the plutonium economy—President Carter's top priority. In March 1978, with the INFCE meetings under way in Vienna, President Carter signed the NNPA into law. The act proved to have a far-reaching impact on U.S. nuclear exports and was both a watershed in U.S. nonproliferation policy on the one hand, and the cause of much consternation for suppliers and recipients, on the other. The NNPA required recipient states to accept full-scope IAEA safeguards in order to receive U.S. nuclear assistance, and it required U.S. consent for retransfers and storage of any U.S.-origin materials, even when provided by another supplier.35 Because major supplier countries had bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States, the NNPA and the Glenn and Symington Amendments were viewed with anxiety in Paris, Bonn, and other industrialized capitals.

French and West German Nuclear Industries in the 1970s

The 1973 oil price shock sparked a surge of global interest in nuclear energy as an alternative energy source and thus higher demand from several developing countries. India's nuclear test in May 1974 concurrently raised proliferation concerns from an uncontrolled global nuclear marketplace for the United States but not for its allies in France and the FRG, both of which sought to cash in on the rising demand for nuclear exports. The character of government-industry relations in the two European countries was vastly different. The French nuclear industry was heavily state-led and state-subsidized, whereas its West German counterpart functioned through a combination of laissez-faire economics and state planning. In France, the Ministry of Industry (Ministère de l'industrie) oversaw energy and industrial policies, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères) and Ministry of Defense (Ministère de la Défense) handled external nuclear relations and nuclear weapons respectively. The French Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique or CEA) was responsible for nuclear research and development (R&D) and the fuel cycle, and the Électricité de France was the state-owned utility provider and an important stakeholder in civilian nuclear energy production (a role it still performs today).36 When the French state made heavy investments in nuclear power in the early 1970s after the oil price shock, it promoted a monopoly supply structure that led to Framatome (known as Areva from 2006 to 2017) as the main nuclear plant contractor in France. Framatome was part of the Creuset-Loire steel and heavy engineering group. The CEA then enjoyed a near-monopoly on French nuclear export until Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's government challenged CEA's position through institutional reorganization.

In the FRG, collective planning was operationalized by senior executives in firms, banks, utility providers, R&D institutions, and government bureaucracies through meetings on supervisory boards and overlapping shareholding.37 Kraftwerk Union AG, a subsidiary of Siemens, held a monopoly on West German nuclear contracts, particularly reactors. Nuclear export policy was influenced by various other actors—notably, Hoechst for fuel cycle, Dresdner Bank for capital, RWE AG as utility provider, and the Federal Ministry of Research and Technology (Bundesministerium für Forschung und Technologie, or BMFT) for R&D funds. Nuclear export licensing was left to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft, or BMWi). Both the BMFT and the BMWi favored nuclear assistance and opposed export controls.38 The BMFT was also in charge of representing West Germany at the IAEA, which made the opponents of export controls the national representatives of the West German position at this key international forum.39 Three basic factors gave nuclear exports their unique character in the case of Bonn. First, in the FRG's export-led economy, nuclear exports were treated like any other export. The economic need to sell nuclear technologies and equipment abroad was greater for Bonn than for Paris. Second, an important element of Ostpolitik was to enhance Bonn's political influence abroad. Nuclear exports to countries in Latin America and Asia were seen in part as a means to that end.40 Third, the FRG experienced a strong anti-nuclear grassroots movement characterized by mass protests at reactor construction sites, including a site occupation in Wyhl in the Upper Rhine Valley in February 1975.41 This gave further impetus to West German firms to find markets abroad that would alleviate the challenges involved in constructing nuclear plants at home.

For the United States, getting France on board was crucial for multilateral efforts to harmonize supplier states’ export policies. Paris had not signed the NPT, was skeptical of IAEA safeguards, and had an advanced nuclear industry. The FRG had held off ratifying the NPT for almost five years after signing the treaty in 1969. West German politicians argued that the treaty could hamper the nuclear industry's commercial viability. U.S. anxiety over the FRG's commitment to nonproliferation was so high that the 1974 Indian nuclear test caused some State Department officials to wonder whether it might derail Bonn's ratification of the NPT.42 By the fall of 1974, West German nuclear suppliers had begun negotiations with India on the transfer of dual-use items for New Delhi's nuclear program. The FRG finally ratified the NPT in May 1975, and just a month or so later it signed the nuclear “deal of the century” with Brazil.43

France as Nuclear Supplier: The Giscardist Turn

On 19 May 1974, the day after India's nuclear test, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing won France's presidential election by a narrow margin over the Socialist contender, François Mitterrand, and became the first non-Gaullist leader of the French Fifth Republic.44 Even though Giscard had been backed by the Gaullists against Mitterrand in the 1974 election, disagreements soon emerged between him and his prime minister, Jacques Chirac (the leader of the Gaullist faction), particularly on the question of French nuclear export policy. Giscard favored a strong commitment to nonproliferation, whereas Chirac was committed to a vigorous nuclear export policy in line with the CEA and the French nuclear industry.45 Faced with domestic political opposition from the Gaullists led by Chirac and the Socialists led by Mitterrand, Giscard aimed to improve relations with the United States. The French president's meeting with President Ford in Martinique in December 1974 initiated the process of U.S.-French rapprochement in the nuclear domain. Giscard assured Ford that France shared U.S. concerns about nuclear proliferation, and he pledged a firm commitment to nonproliferation.46

The Gaullists believed that an increase in the number of nuclear-armed countries outside Europe would challenge the nuclear dominance of the superpowers and create greater space for maneuver for middle powers like France.47 In addition to this almost Waltzian belief in “more may be better,” the Gaullists had a strong economic rationale for supporting nuclear exports for the CEA and France's largely state-controlled nuclear industry.48 Reining in French nuclear exports thus proved to be a daunting task for the French president. From 1974 to 1976, Giscard's nonproliferation policy revolved around ensuring French participation in the NSG and allowing the United States to coerce South Korea to pull out of its reprocessing contract with the CEA despite opposition from the French agency and from the Gaullists led by Chirac in the French National Assembly.49

With Chirac's exit as prime minister from Giscard's government in late August 1976 and his replacement by Giscard loyalist Raymond Barre, the French president was better able to consolidate his power. Louis de Guiringaud, who replaced Jean Sauvagnargues as French foreign minister in 1976, was also more sympathetic to the goal of nonproliferation, which helped Giscard's goals. Soon thereafter, Giscard established the Council on Nuclear Export Policy (CPNE) to institutionalize the Quai d'Orsay's oversight over the CEA's nuclear export policy, including the nature of technology and materials pledged to recipient states and the amount and terms of loans offered to facilitate the transactions. Moreover, the goal of the CPNE was to harmonize French nuclear export policy with the NSG guidelines that had been recently finalized in London.50 The role of the CPNE was instrumental in the French declaration of December 1976 not to authorize any new sale of reprocessing plants to foreign countries (the so-called reprocessing moratorium), much to the chagrin of the West German government. During Carter's presidency, the Franco-Pakistani contract for the construction of a plutonium-reprocessing plant became a test case for both the French and the U.S. president's commitment to nuclear nonproliferation.51

French Agreement with Pakistan for a Plutonium Reprocessing Plant

In December 1974, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission signed a contract with the French firm Saint Gobain Nouvelle Technique (SGN) for the construction of a prototype plutonium reprocessing plant in Pakistan. SGN was a subsidiary of the state-owned Framatome and the main contractor for French nuclear exports.52 A tripartite safeguards agreement involving France, Pakistan, and the IAEA was signed in March 1976.53 As the Ford administration urged Paris to end the agreement, Prime Minister Chirac, citing French national sovereignty, publicly rejected the idea of discussing the issue with Washington.54 In June 1976, when Kissinger visited Paris while returning from Islamabad, he faced a French media storm for attempting to influence French decisions on nuclear exports.55

Improved French ties with the United States during Giscard's presidency had a notable influence on bilateral cooperation regarding nonproliferation. A State Department paper on France noted that in the wake of Giscard's election, “[a]cerbic references toward US policies have been absent and a more pragmatic, unemotional approach to our relations is evident.”56 The paper observed that contentious issues between the two countries were also diminishing. However, Giscard was fighting the Gaullists at home and contending with French “nuclear orthodoxy.” An example of that orthodoxy became evident in November 1974 when Geoffrey de Courcel, the secretary general of the French foreign ministry, met with U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Director Fred Iklé and said France believed that no amount of safeguards could prevent a country from developing nuclear weapons and, hence, controls were in vain.57

Despite Giscard's willingness to cooperate with the Ford administration on nonproliferation, complex challenges persisted for him at home, especially within the French foreign ministry. In April 1975, Foreign Minister Sauvagnargues summarized his government's position to his U.S. counterpart. First, the French wanted decisions in the NSG meetings in London to be unanimous and nonretroactive.58 Second, the authority to implement the decisions was to be vested only in the supplier governments, who could also decide to withdraw from the NSG at their will. Third, the decisions of the NSG must not hamper French exports to the Communist world. Fourth, the French opposed any major change to their existing export practices. France also rejected U.S. proposals that sensitive nuclear exports be provided only to countries that accepted IAEA safeguards and that reprocessing be offered only on a multinational basis.59

By September 1975 the French government had agreed to participate in the NSG but had also informed the United States that the planned French sale of a reprocessing plant to Pakistan would not be canceled.60 Giscard, however, assured Washington that France would not oppose U.S. efforts to convince Pakistan to terminate the contract. Because the Gaullist challenge at home made it difficult for Giscard to defer to U.S. preferences, it was imperative for him to cooperate passively by not opposing U.S. pressure on recipients to back away from their planned purchases. A State Department briefing paper from September 1975 noted that the United States had held fruitful bilateral discussions with France on its nuclear cooperation with South Korea and Taiwan. The French had expressed willingness to turn a blind eye to U.S. pressure on both Seoul and Taipei. Giscard's government preferred that the recipient terminate the contract instead of France for two important reasons. First, if the recipient ended the contract, the French government could not be compelled to pay compensation to its nuclear industry for loss of business overseas.61 Second, the French government could not be directly accused of giving in to U.S. pressure on nonproliferation and would thereby save face before its domestic political opponents. This explains the French president's acquiescence in U.S. pressure on South Korea and the lack of French opposition to U.S. efforts to dissuade Pakistan.62

The CEA, despite having its monopoly challenged by Giscard's government, retained a large part of its policy leverage through its technical expertise on nuclear matters. The opinion of CEA insiders such as Bertrand Goldschmidt and André Giraud, who were themselves pro-export, were frequently sought to determine whether certain nuclear exports posed proliferation risks. The lack of technical expertise among French foreign policy officials thus jeopardized the government's ability to curtail the proliferation risks of nuclear trade. One CEA expert, trying to underplay the obvious nuclear weapons dimension of the French-Pakistan agreement, even told a Quai d'Orsay official that anyone could do reprocessing.63

Kissinger's visit to Pakistan and France in August 1976 to discourage the Franco-Pakistan deal was watched closely by Indian policymakers. A telegram from the Indian embassy in Washington lamented that a “face-saving formula which will satisfy the Americans and be acceptable to the French and Pakistanis is still possible, but one wonders if Kissinger's style during this trip has made it easier to achieve.”64 The telegram then added:

Kissinger's tactics in Pakistan seem to have made it more difficult for Pakistan to achieve its objective, since if it were to give up the re-processing plant it would look like abject surrender on the part of Bhutto after repeatedly reiterating his determination to go ahead with it.65

Quid Pro Quo Bargains with France

Despite conciliatory gestures at the Martinique Summit in December 1974, French cooperation with the United States on nuclear export controls was far from assured. The Martinique summit paved the way for increased U.S. assistance to France in missile development and nuclear safety.66 Given the need for French participation in the NSG, Kissinger devised a series of quid pro quos concerning U.S.-French nuclear weapons cooperation. Kissinger's goal was to offer the French government nuclear weapons–related technical assistance in order to elicit French cooperation with the United States on nuclear export controls. French policymakers, realizing how much their U.S. counterparts needed their cooperation at the NSG, sent a series of requests to Washington and were not disappointed.

The main impediment to the quid pro quo on nuclear weapons cooperation was NSAM 294—the Lyndon Johnson–era decision taken in response to the development of the French nuclear deterrent independent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).67 NSAM 294 made it U.S. policy “not to contribute to or assist in the development of a French nuclear warhead capability or a French national strategic nuclear delivery capacity.”68 The thaw in U.S.-French relations that began with Richard Nixon's meeting with Charles de Gaulle in February 1969 and continued under George Pompidou's leadership led to favorable U.S. decisions to provide advanced computers and missile systems to France (NSAM 103) and cooperation in nuclear safety (NSAM 104).69 The core implications of NSAM 294, however, still remained valid.70 Under the Ford administration, Kissinger devised a series of measures for quid pro quos with Giscard's government that more or less reversed the implications of NSAM 294.

In August 1975, the U.S. company Control Data Corporation applied to the Department of Commerce for an export license covering the sale of CYBER 76—a cutting-edge supercomputer—for the French nuclear weapons program. In principle, the sale of advanced computers for nuclear weapons development could not be allowed to France because of NSAM 294 and because France was not a party to the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. The U.S. government had vetoed similar past requests by Control Data Corporation, and one by IBM, because of the equipment's end use in the French nuclear weapons program; specifically, for nuclear testing. Nevertheless, Control Data Corporation informed State Department officials that in negotiating the present agreement with France, despite the known legal difficulties, the company had acted “on French advice that an exception would be made to U.S. policy.”71

In response to the request from Control Data Corporation, two options were laid out in a memorandum from George Springsteen to National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft: (1) modify the interpretation of U.S. policies under NSAM 294 and the Limited Test Ban Treaty to exempt France from the U.S. embargo on technical assistance to its nuclear weapons program; or (2) make a case-specific exception for the current request. Springsteen noted that the State Department preferred the second option because it would be faster and have “more impact on the French as a political gesture than a change in our policy based partly on technical factors.”72 Moreover, the second option would need less interagency coordination. An exception determined by the national security adviser and approved by the president would keep the other relevant government bureaucracies—Commerce, Defense, the Energy Research and Development Agency (ERDA), and ACDA—and their different sets of priorities at arm's length from the issue. Most importantly, a case-specific exception meant that the United States would retain its leverage over similar future transactions and that the exception would be politically less costly.

In May 1976, before Giscard's state visit to the United States, Kissinger advised President Ford to make a case-specific exception without modifying overall U.S. policy. Ford promptly agreed.73 That the exemption to NSAM 294 in the Control Data case was a quid pro quo for increased French cooperation on nuclear export controls was clearly stated by Kissinger:

This would enable us to highlight to Giscard our willingness to move forward in military cooperation as a reflection of the kind of bilateral relationship we would like to have with France, while expressing our desire for similar cooperation in related areas involving the Elysee and the French nuclear bureaucracy, such as civil nuclear export policy. For example, I believe that this forward movement could facilitate French cooperation in tightening up non-mandatory nuclear suppliers’ guidelines governing sensitive nuclear transfers such as national reprocessing facilities.74

In September 1975, as the advanced computer sale was under consideration by the Ford administration, three French requests regarding “nuclear” items came up for review at the State Department.75 These involved French proposals for liberalization of Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) policy to allow French reactor sales to the Soviet Union, the relaxation of U.S. control of French light-water reactor licenses involving Westinghouse and Framatome, and permission for depleted uranium to remain in the Soviet Union.76 These requests highlighted the burgeoning Franco-Soviet cooperation on nuclear technology, particularly uranium enrichment services.77 After the USAEC's decision in July 1974 not to renew low-enriched uranium (LEU) contracts for Western Europe and Japan, most West European countries began to look toward Moscow to meet their enrichment needs. The openness between East and West facilitated by détente helped to consolidate the Soviet option. An energy official of the European Economic Community explained, “We want to diversify our fuel sources, and the Russians provide one possibility. They, in turn, need to earn money to pay for Western machinery.”78 Given early French efforts to reduce dependence on the United States, Paris was ahead of this curve: the first Franco-Soviet bilateral agreement under which the Soviet Union was to deliver enriched uranium to France was signed in March 1971, and the first Soviet shipment of enriched uranium to France under that agreement arrived in 1973.79

Although the Control Data export case had commercial advantages for the U.S. firm and military and political advantages for France, the French requests to the U.S. State Department were to reap the greatest commercial benefits from East-West nuclear trade during the permissive era of détente. COCOM had been formed in November 1949 to coordinate the national export policies of the United States and its allies so that they could restrict trade in strategic materials and technologies with the Communist world.80 As with most export control frameworks, COCOM was not based on an international treaty. Its decisions were unanimous but were not binding on the member-states. Hailed as the “economic arm of NATO,” COCOM served U.S. policy objectives of controlling key allies’ trade with the East. The expansion in East-West trade during détente weakened COCOM considerably as political objectives shifted.

Each of the three French government requests to the State Department was granted as a quid pro quo for French cooperation with the United States at the NSG. In line with the earlier decision of June 1975, when the Ford administration had allowed a West German reactor sale to the Soviet Union under NSAM 298, the similar French request in the fall of 1975 was also approved.81 In the case of the reactor licensing issue involving Westinghouse and Framatome, Washington decided to modify the Code of Federal Regulations to provide a general authorization for nuclear transfers that had already been authorized by COCOM. The implication was that the French firm Framatome would no longer have to seek, through its U.S. licensor Westinghouse, the approval of ERDA if there was U.S. approval at COCOM.82 As for the depleted uranium request, the Ford administration in October 1974 had stipulated at COCOM that all depleted uranium generated from West European enrichment contracts with the Soviet Union must be returned to the contracting West European countries.83 Policy document NSDM 275 made clear that the Ford administration could revise the policy to reach a compromise solution for smoothing out differences over the NSG: “In view of the importance of securing the cooperation of other nuclear suppliers in implementing our non-proliferation strategy, we should maintain a cooperative atmosphere vis-a-vis nuclear matters within COCOM.”84 NSDM 275 clearly underlined the relationship between cooperation within COCOM and U.S. interests in securing the cooperation of other nuclear supplier states for nonproliferation at the NSG. If “significant opposition” arose in COCOM over the depleted uranium at a future date, the United States would reexamine its policy in order to reach an acceptable compromise. In the wake of the French request of September 1975, the State Department judged that a compromise solution could be devised and that the French request could be considered a sign of “significant opposition” in COCOM.

A State Department memorandum relating these decisions was sent to National Security Adviser Scowcroft, once again from Springsteen, prior to the NSG meeting in London in September 1975—the same month the French made their request. The memorandum noted that it was “highly desirable to use possible U.S. movement on French requests to maximize French responsiveness” on its nuclear export policy stance.85 In return, the United States should seek from France (1) restraint in future transfers of sensitive nuclear technology; (2) provisions in future agreements that required suppliers’ consent for end use, obligatory no-PNE commitments by recipients, and permanent safeguards on all French nuclear transfers; (3) safeguards on reactors, especially on natural uranium and advanced reactors; and (4) continuation of bilateral consultations with the United States on nuclear export cases of special concern.

This tit-for-tat nature characterized U.S.-French cooperation on nuclear export controls throughout the latter half of the 1970s and helped to pave the way for a new phase in the two countries' partnership on nonproliferation policy. The quid pro quo worked in the case of France because the state-controlled French nuclear industry was more susceptible to oversight by the Élysée and Quai d'Orsay through the CPNE. Even though the CEA and the French nuclear industry industry did not welcome heightened export control measures, French government control over the industry ensured that the transactional bargains with the United States enhanced France's commitment to nonproliferation and multilateral export controls.86

West Germany as Nuclear Supplier: The Schmidt-Genscher Front

After Willy Brandt's resignation on 7 May 1974, Helmut Schmidt became the West German chancellor heading a Social Democratic Party–Free Democratic Party (SPD-FDP) coalition. Both Schmidt and his foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, supported the expansion of West German nuclear exports worldwide, as did the BMFT and BMWi. The influence of nonproliferation experts on West German export policy was weak.87 Nuclear exports were often treated as any other kind of export, and proliferation risks from nuclear transfers to threshold states were not a matter of serious concern for the Schmidt government.88 West German firms such as Kraftwerk Union AG (KWU) not only sold turnkey power plants but also offered comprehensive sales packages that included technology transfer, financing, training of personnel, and additional services to the recipient states. This made West German nuclear exports quite desirable to governments in developing countries, which could receive technical knowhow and training with the potential to explore indigenous R&D in the long run.89

During the Ford and Carter years, West German nuclear assistance to countries in the developing world posed a major challenge to U.S. nonproliferation efforts and generated tensions in U.S.–West German relations.90 In June 1975, KWU offered to build eight nuclear reactors in Brazil, including a full fuel cycle, over a period of fifteen years at a cost of 10 billion Deutschmarks.91 Touted as the “deal of the century,” it was the largest single export order in West German history, and it drew the ire of the Ford and Carter administrations. From 1975 to 1979, West German firms offered nuclear exports involving uranium enrichment and reprocessing to Brazil, reprocessing to Iran and Argentina, and heavy water plants and dual-use items to India and Pakistan, among others. West German nuclear exports thus involved both “sensitive” nuclear assistance (namely, uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, which are crucial for nuclear weapons development) as well as dual-use items to “sensitive” countries or threshold states. Washington and Bonn disagreed about the definition and meaning of both “sensitive” nuclear transfers and “sensitive” recipient countries. According to U.S. officials at the time, the West Germans lacked full awareness of the proliferation risks associated with nuclear transfers to threshold or “sensitive” states.92

Unlike the Giscard government in France, which cooperated with the Ford and Carter administrations on nonproliferation despite domestic challenges, Schmidt's government in West Germany directly opposed U.S. efforts to control the FRG's nuclear exports. In May 1976, Secretary of State Kissinger suggested to officials in Bonn the idea of announcing a moratorium on future exports of reprocessing plants, citing French interest in doing so:

We are basically against the sale of reprocessing plants. During the discussions with Giscard in Washington I got the feeling that he would be prepared to say that they will not sell (reprocessing plants) any more. That is, they would agree to a moratorium for some period of time.93

In response, Foreign Minister Genscher stressed that the FRG would find it “very difficult” to endorse this idea.94 Kissinger then made a case against binational reprocessing plants as well as the idea of regional or multinational reprocessing plants: “Binational plants don't help because if they try to kick you out—Brazil, Iran—what can you do?” Constructing reprocessing plants was dangerous for international stability, Kissinger argued, and a moratorium on their sales by France and the FRG was thus the appropriate way forward.95 On the West German side, neither Genscher nor Peter Hermes (the assistant secretary for foreign affairs who was Bonn's chief negotiator on nuclear export questions) was convinced. Bonn suggested further bilateral discussions with Washington to ensure that West German deals with Iran and Brazil would not be affected if a moratorium were imposed in the future.96

By late June 1976, as the FRG moved fast on signing its nuclear cooperation agreement with Tehran for two power reactors, including a plutonium reprocessing plant, West German officials did not respond to a U.S. report on the matter. West German intransigence worried Kissinger, who, along with his aide Helmut Sonnenfeldt, met with West German Ambassador Berndt von Staden in Washington to convey U.S. opposition to the contract. In 1975, West Germany had complained that the United States had not stated its opposition to full fuel-cycle transfers until after the contracts were signed with Brazil. This time, with a West German–Iranian nuclear reprocessing contract in the works, Kissinger informed von Staden that the United States wanted to make clear in advance of signing the contracts that the United States disapproved, in the hope that this would spur appropriate action by Bonn.97 When Schmidt met the Shah of Iran in November 1976, four months after the Kissinger–von Staden meeting, U.S. nonproliferation concerns were put on the backburner by the West German chancellor.98

By this time, the Ford administration was preoccupied with the presidential election campaign at home. The emphatic criticism of U.S. nonproliferation policy by then-candidate Jimmy Carter made nonproliferation a prominent issue in the campaign. Although the West Germans showed no interest in declaring a moratorium on reprocessing, they were anxious to know how the French declaration of a moratorium on reprocessing exports in December 1976 would affect West German policy. Some high-ranking officials in Bonn thought the French moratorium was merely symbolic. Given president-elect Carter's stance against commercial reprocessing, U.S. objections would make any future reprocessing sale impossible, irrespective of French policy. The concern in Bonn was that the FRG could be penalized under the Symington Amendment for exporting reprocessing facilities. West German officials were most worried about how the incoming Carter administration would affect West German commercial interest in exporting nuclear reactors and fuel-cycle facilities. Not until June 1977, six months after France had declared a moratorium on exports of reprocessing plants, did West Germany do the same. President Carter's 1978 NNPA highlighted U.S.–West German tensions. Schmidt's government saw “in the act a new threat to deals concluded independently by West German companies with third countries for the export of nuclear technology.”99

FRG–India Agreement: Heavy-Water Plant Compressors

After India's nuclear test in May 1974, as the future of Canadian, French, and U.S. nuclear exports to India was becoming uncertain, the Indian Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) began to seek out more accommodating suppliers. In September 1974, IAEC Chairman Homi Sethna arrived in West Germany after participating in IAEA meetings in Vienna. During the trip, Sethna held bilateral discussions on nuclear cooperation between Bonn and New Delhi and visited the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center (Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe or KfK).100 Established in 1956, the KfK was not only West Germany's premier nuclear research institution but also a major site of Bonn's R&D for reactor designs and the nuclear fuel cycle. In the fall of 1974, when Sethna visited, the KfK was the site of West Germany's only fast breeder reactor (the Kompakte Natriumgekühlte Kernreaktoranlage, or KNK) as well as its pilot reprocessing plant (the Wiederaufarbeitungsanlage Karlsruhe, or WAK). India's reprocessing plant in Trombay had been operational since 1964. From 1969 to 1974 the Indian government signed a series of nuclear cooperation agreements with France on breeder reactor technologies. With the Giscard government's acquiescence in the U.S. position on nonproliferation and the Schmidt government's opposition, the IAEC was likely to explore alternative options with West Germany.101

West German–Indian nuclear cooperation was already well established in heavy-water production. The first heavy-water plant in India was built in Nangal by West German firm Linde in 1962, the same year the IAEC established its Heavy Water Board. Indigenous production of heavy water was considered essential to developing a self-sufficient nuclear program—a priority of the IAEC.102 Around the same time that Sethna became the IAEC chairman in 1972, West German firm Uhde GmbH began building a heavy-water plant in Talcher. After India's 1974 nuclear explosion, the Ford administration recommended that the West German government seek safeguards on the plant. Bonn refused on the grounds that the export license to Uhde had been granted two years before India's nuclear test, and new conditions could not be imposed retroactively.103 Randermann, the chief of the nuclear energy section at the Federal Foreign Office in Bonn, feared that the West German government could be held liable by Uhde for financial damages incurred if safeguards had to be imposed. Randermann argued that heavy-water plants were not included on the Zangger Committee's “trigger list” and were therefore not restricted under IAEA regulations or the NPT. In the absence of legal obstacles, not much could be done in terms of imposing safeguards on the Talcher plant or preventing further West German sales of heavy-water plants and related components to the IAEC.104

For the Ford administration, India was a “sensitive” country because it had conducted an underground nuclear explosion, which New Delhi claimed was an experiment for civilian purposes. However, even if this was true, such explosions were indistinguishable from nuclear weapons tests. In addition, India had refused to accept full-scope IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program on the grounds that those safeguards were discriminatory and a violation of its sovereignty.105 The IAEC also refused to provide any assurance that the nuclear assistance it obtained from other countries would not be used in future Indian nuclear explosions. As a result, Canada and the United States—both major suppliers to India prior to its 1974 nuclear explosion—refused to grant export licenses to their own firms for centrifugal compressors needed for India's heavy water plant in Kota.106 The IAEC sought alternatives and found a willing supplier in the West German firm Borsig AG.

Borsig was a compressor licensee of Allis-Chalmers—the U.S. company that had failed to obtain the necessary licenses from the United States and Canada to export compressors to the IAEC.107 In July 1975, the West German government granted an export license to Borsig for the supply of centrifugal compressors for the Indian heavy water plant in Kota, where two CANDU-type reactors were being built with Canadian assistance.108 Although some within the West German government questioned whether the export of these conventional compressors should move forward, the license was granted because it involved neither a plant-specific technology nor a “critical component.” The West German firm had not sought safeguards and refused to request them, fearing commercial losses from possible Indian abrogation of the contract. A similar export case involving the U.S. firm Union Carbide had come up for review at the U.S. State Department in December 1974. Union Carbide had a contract to supply unsafeguarded trays for a heavy-water plant in India.109 Although Kissinger approved the export in January 1975, he emphasized that each nuclear export to India should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. After that, heavy-water plant components and the means to control their exports became the subject of serious inquiry within the Ford administration.110

West German–Indian nuclear cooperation on dual-use items for heavy-water plants transpired almost concurrently with the West Germany–Brazil agreement. In June 1975, when West Germany and Brazil signed the agreement, Brazil (like India) was not a signatory to the NPT. The deal attracted more public attention because of the nature of the technology being transferred to Brasília (namely, multiple reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing equipment), and because the Schmidt government explicitly defended the agreement on commercial grounds. After the Ford administration raised concerns about the proliferation ambitions of Brazil's military junta, a trilateral safeguards agreement was signed by West Germany, Brazil, and the IAEA. The Carter administration, however, remained deeply concerned and embarked on several rounds of high-level meetings with West German officials to try to convince the FRG not to transfer the reactors and equipment.111

The Borsig deal between Bonn and New Delhi also spanned the Ford and Carter years but remains less well known because the contract was harder to criticize publicly in Washington or to defend publicly in Bonn. In part this was because of the dual-use nature of the items being exported. Borsig's compressors were meant for Indian heavy-water plants, but they also had well-known civilian uses across industrial sectors. That is, the technical equipment was not itself “sensitive,” in contrast to enrichment and reprocessing equipment, and this made it harder for U.S. policymakers to control and or openly criticize such exports. Second, because India, the recipient country, had already conducted a nuclear explosion and was unwilling to provide assurances that the imports would not be used in future explosions, Bonn could not easily dispute the “sensitive” nature of the recipient. Third, a legal loophole made the compressors harder to control under existing mechanisms. Heavy water was on the Zangger Committee's “trigger list” and required IAEA safeguards, but heavy-water plants and their components were not on the list and, hence, did not necessitate safeguards. Thus, although the Borsig episode lacked the open acrimony between Bonn and Washington evident in the case of the West Germany–Brazil deal, it was characterized by a series of secretive ad-hoc measures adopted by the United States and three other NSG members in an effort to stall the deal.

Borsig AG was headquartered in the French sector of West Berlin. As a result, in addition to obtaining the export license from the West German government in Bonn, it needed an export authorization from the Allied Kommandatura—the Allied governing body of the divided city of Berlin, comprising the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. The unique status of West Berlin in the Cold War thereby introduced a new set of challenges in the Borsig case. Kissinger hoped to mitigate West German government support for the Borsig export by soliciting British and French help within the Kommandatura. Both of the allied powers supported the U.S. position to oppose the Borsig deal.112 Undersecretary of State Joseph Sisco in Washington instructed U.S. Ambassador Martin Hillenbrand in Bonn to request the Kommandatura's economics committee to postpone its decision on the Borsig's export license application so that it could study the full implications. This meant the Borsig export could be halted, at least temporarily. The main challenge in involving the Kommandatura was the potential public criticism such a procedure might generate about the “allied commitment to West Berlin's economic viability.”113 After all, in West Berlin, an occupied city, the three Western powers—not West Germany—exercised authority. Hence, if West German firms suffered commercial losses as a result of political pressures from the Kommandatura, it could be a public relations debacle both for U.S.–West German relations and for East-West politics in the era of détente and Ostpolitik.

Unsurprisingly, the pro-control and pro-export elements in the West German government took different positions on the Borsig deal. The pro-control standpoint manifested itself in the actions of such high-ranking officials as Werner Rouget, who was in charge of nuclear energy affairs at the Federal Foreign Office. Rouget supported the U.S. position that Bonn should seek safeguards on the Borsig compressors from New Delhi in addition to obtaining an assurance that the compressors would not be used in future Indian nuclear explosions.114 In a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Hillenbrand in December 1975, Rouget emphasized the need for secrecy because the Borsig contract involved West Berlin, which made it politically sensitive for the FRG. From an economic perspective, Rouget was concerned that if it appeared the West German government was heeding U.S. advice to interfere with Borsig's commercial operations, it could prompt a lawsuit by Borsig against the government. Rouget was also keen to resolve the legal loophole in the “trigger list” and suggested to Hillenbrand that export controls for compressors be discussed at future NSG meetings, regardless of what happened in the Borsig case. The pro-export position was maintained by the BMFT and BMWi, which gathered technical information to argue that compressors were conventional (not critical) items and therefore did not require safeguards. The BMWi, the main authority for granting export licenses on behalf of the federal government, was anxious about an industrial backlash and did not wish to reverse its original decision from July 1975 to grant the export license to Borsig.115 The differences between the pro-control and pro-export coalitions meant that a quick and easy resolution was unlikely.

Fearing political controversy if the Allied Kommandatura's involvement in the Borsig case became public knowledge, the West German government informed the Ford administration in May 1976 that it would prefer to deal with the Borsig contract in Bonn rather than in West Berlin.116 Rouget informed Hillenbrand that Borsig had been notified that the export license case was “sleeping” and that no movement was anticipated. The U.S. government accepted Rouget's suggestion to keep the Allied Kommandatura out, but U.S. policymakers intended, if necessary, to rely on the Kommandatura as a last resort to stop Borsig if the West German government refused to cooperate.117 When Borsig applied at the Allied Kommandatura in the spring of 1976 for a license to export five compressors for India's heavy-water plant in Kota, both the Ford administration and the French government were unsure whether West Berlin was even subject to the NSG guidelines. Because Borsig was headquartered in the French zone of West Berlin, the French position was especially significant.118 U.S. officials were glad that France readily accepted the U.S. position that the deal could not go through without adequate IAEA safeguards on the export and assurances from the Indian government that it would not use the exported items in future nuclear explosions.

Because of U.S. concerns that public criticism in West Germany and elsewhere could lead to an outcry that the Western occupying powers of West Berlin were hindering the city's economic development in the name of nonproliferation, the United States enlisted Canada to help lobby against the Borsig deal.119 U.S. officials hoped that Canadian participation would help separate Washington's nonproliferation efforts from Cold War politics and signal to Bonn that it was not just the three occupying Western powers but the four original members of the NSG who wanted the Borsig deal to be scrapped for nonproliferation reasons. Although U.S. policymakers left open the option of the Kommandatura's rejection of Borsig's export license as a last resort, the French position was different. By November 1976, the French view was that the Kommandatura should not be involved in rejecting Borsig's application, for fear of provoking tensions between the FRG and France. Instead, the French believed Borsig should be privately discouraged from pursuing its contract with India.120 Any public evidence that the three Western occupying powers were meddling in the commercial activities of West Berlin companies would only confirm East German criticism that West Berlin was not “a consistent part of the Federal Republic of Germany and will continue not to be governed by it,” despite détente and Ostpolitik.121

With Carter's presidential campaign moving toward victory, West German officials were anxious to find out how much of an impact the new U.S. administration's nonproliferation policy would have on the FRG's nuclear industry. By January 1977, when Carter was inaugurated, the Schmidt government had amended the atomic energy list of its Federal Foreign Trade and Payments Act to include heavy-water plant compressors “identified by a combination of technical and ‘end-use’ criteria.”122 This brought West German national legislation into line with the recently formulated NSG guidelines on heavy-water plant components. Borsig was subsequently informed that the West German government would retroactively apply the 1977 amendment to its 1975 export license, leading to rumors that the company had already sent its shipment to India before the amendment took effect.123

Because the United States also supplied India, Rouget at the Federal Foreign Office was curious to know how Carter's January 1978 visit to India would go and whether Washington would find a solution regarding its own fuel shipments for the two U.S.-supplied Indian reactors in Tarapur.124 The Carter administration had hoped that with the new Indian government of Morarji Desai, the IAEC might yield to the U.S. request for full-scope IAEA safeguards on the Tarapur reactors. But when those hopes did not produce actual Indian policy shifts, Carter decided to make multiple exemptions allowing U.S. fuel shipments to India, raising concerns in Bonn about Washington's double standards.125

Surpassing the East-West Divide

In May 1978, the FRG Foreign Office notified the U.S. embassy in Bonn that the Borsig deal was dead.126 The multiyear U.S. effort had finally succeeded in preventing the West German sale of unsafeguarded compressors for the Indian heavy water plant in Kota, as the Schmidt government followed the advice of the Ford and Carter administrations, albeit grudgingly. This achievement, however, was short-lived. The U.S. embassy in Bonn informed the Carter administration that the IAEC had informed West German officials that the cancellation of the Borsig deal was not a “major problem.”127 The IAEC had already shelved plans for the Borsig compressors in 1976, probably around the time Rouget had informed Borsig that the export license was “sleeping” at the Kommandatura.128 The IAEC had therefore pursued indigenous production of the items and sought assistance from the Eastern bloc. An East German company stepped in to manufacture the heavy water plant compressors that Borsig was originally expected to supply for the Kota plant. The U.S. embassy in Bonn also discovered that the compressors Uhde was building for the Talcher heavy water plant had been provided by a Czechoslovak company.129 The two Soviet satellite states, already relatively advanced in precision instruments (East Germany) and reactor engineering (Czechoslovakia), had become NSG members in 1976–1977 when the Borsig episode was in full swing.

The 1971 “comprehensive plan” of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), formulated to promote the advancement of East-bloc economic integration in accordance with Soviet preferences, led to the creation of new multilateral economic institutions that enabled Moscow to consolidate both inner-bloc manufacture of nuclear equipment (through the Interatominstrument, formed in 1972) and nuclear energy–related transfers (through the Interatomenergo, formed in 1973).130 The rising importance of the Soviet Union as a nuclear supplier in the West—first through the 1970 heavy water sale to Canada and then through enrichment contracts with West European countries from 1971 onward—gave Moscow additional leverage in the nuclear sector within the Eastern bloc.131 The Soviet Union was the largest shareholder of Interatomenergo, which was headquartered in Moscow and had a Soviet director-general. Among the Soviet satellite states, Czechoslovakia held an important position within CMEA as well as Interatomenergo as the most advanced Soviet-bloc country in the nuclear sector, thus giving Prague substantial leverage over both the trade of nuclear items within CMEA and their export to Soviet-approved recipients outside CMEA.132

Whether Borsig or any of its subsidiaries were involved in the East German–Indian deal for the Kota heavy water plant has not been conclusively determined, but the possibility cannot be completely ruled out. East German entry into Borsig's export market could have resulted from inter-German coordination; that is, Borsig in West Berlin might have transacted with similar East German firms on the other side of Iron Curtain—a not uncommon occurrence during Ostpolitik. The U.S. embassy in Bonn reported to Washington that Czechoslovakia, which provided compressors for the Talcher heavy water plant, could have received the technology from another East European supplier. Could Borsig (and possibly other West German firms), in the face of U.S. pressure, have begun outsourcing their exports to firms in the Eastern bloc before those countries implemented national legislation in line with the NSG guidelines? After all, Borsig was headquartered in West Berlin, only a wall apart from the East German capital of East Berlin. Might the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies have plotted to exploit, commercially and politically, the Western intra-alliance differences over nuclear exports?133 After the termination of Canadian nuclear assistance to India in May 1976 and as U.S. heavy water supply to India attracted congressional criticism, the Soviet Union stepped in to provide 200 tons of heavy water to the IAEC in December 1976. The Soviet heavy water supply was for India's operational CANDU-type reactor (RAPP-I) in Kota—the same site as the heavy water plant waiting for the Borsig compressors.134 Did India's unique ability to garner support from the East and the West play a role? New Delhi's bilateral relations with both East Germany and Czechoslovakia were quite cordial at the time.

The 1974 annual report from the Indian embassy in Prague notes that bilateral relations between India and Czechoslovakia “had reached an all-time high with the exchange of visits by Smt. Gandhi to the Czechoslovakia in 1972 and Dr. Gustáv Husák to India in December 1973.”135 The report added that the Czechoslovak government had maintained “a discreet silence” on India's 1974 nuclear explosion. East German–Indian bilateral relations were also on an upswing. A bilateral trade protocol was signed in 1975 that provided for total trade of more than 1 billion rupees in 1976—a 10 percent increase over 1975. This bilateral trade between the two countries largely comprised engineering items.136

Friendly relations between New Delhi and East-bloc countries such as Czechoslovakia and East Germany were also the product of Indo-Soviet proximity in the 1970s. After the signing of the 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation, political and economic ties between Moscow and New Delhi had expanded further. India's Bhilai steel plant, built with Soviet assistance in the 1950s, was producing 25 million tons of steel by 1976, and the Soviet military was helping with the modernization of the Indian naval fleet.137 The Soviet Union had responded to India's 1974 nuclear test with silence, and Soviet technical assistance to India's nuclear program had increased by 1976 to include heavy water supply.138 This was, however, not the first Soviet sale of heavy water to India. In 1972, Moscow had provided New Delhi with 80 tons of heavy water.139 Because the Soviet Union demanded safeguards on its exports sooner or later, the transfer was not necessarily a sign of Soviet intransigence on nonproliferation.140

Unlike the U.S.-French quid pro quo, the U.S.–West German discussions were neither as transactional nor as effective. Unlike France, the FRG was party to the NPT and was dependent on U.S. nuclear security guarantees through NATO. Also, government-industry relations were relatively more decentralized in West Germany than in France. In the latter half of the 1970s Bonn was thus not outside the mechanisms of the nonproliferation regime, was politically and militarily reliant on the United States, and faced structural challenges to the effective control of its own firms’ export activities. In addition, the highest policymakers in Bonn, such as Schmidt and Genscher, along with the pro-export coalition within the West German government, opposed U.S. pressure to halt West German nuclear exports. U.S.–West German negotiations thus faced conspicuous challenges. During the Ford years Kissinger expressed his discontentment privately to the West German government, but during the Carter administration these disagreements became public, further straining U.S.–West German relations. More was attained on the nonproliferation front through multilateral mechanisms than bilateral means. These included (1) generating legal obstacles for West German export licenses when possible (in the Borsig case by keeping open the option for a veto through the Allied Kommandatura); (2) raising opposition from West European partners engaged in multilateral cooperation in the nuclear sector (e.g., the Urenco Group in the case of the West Germany–Brazil deal); and (3) developing multilateral consensus at the NSG on what kinds of nuclear exports to control.

V.  Conclusion

Both the Ford and the Carter administrations wanted to curb nuclear proliferation, but despite their best efforts the United States saw only partial success. At a time when multiple suppliers in a crowded nuclear marketplace were offering technologies, materials, and equipment to potential proliferators, the United States was compelled to play whack-a-mole. Although contracts for nuclear cooperation were abrogated by both West European suppliers under different circumstances, U.S. policymakers had difficulty controlling the transfer of technical know-how related to the abrogated contracts.141 Although the French contract with Pakistan was terminated in 1978, the French company SGN was believed to have transferred blueprints of the reprocessing plant to Pakistan.142 West German company KWU passed on the blueprints of reactors and reprocessing facilities to Brazil in 1977. West German Foreign Minister Genscher even assured President Carter that this transfer of know-how was irrelevant to proliferation concerns.143 Despite a four-year-long effort to stop dual-use transfers to India, the IAEC was able to procure the necessary components from Czechoslovak and East German firms, which stepped in when the United States and its advanced industrialized allies struggled to coordinate their export control policies. Legal loopholes were also aplenty, especially in the case of dual-use items.

The divergent trajectories of France and West Germany on nonproliferation are striking. Although the Giscard government cooperated early with the United States during the Ford administration, the Schmidt government opposed U.S. nonproliferation efforts as an assault on West German national sovereignty and its economic right to export. France was technologically more advanced and politically better placed than West Germany in nuclear technologies, and as a result it had less difficulty adapting to U.S.-led multilateral export restrictions. First, unlike West Germany, France possessed an independent mastery of the full nuclear fuel cycle and did not depend on the authorization of the Urenco Group or any multilateral body to export enrichment and reprocessing services. This technological superiority allowed France to reduce its commercial losses from U.S.-led nonproliferation policy changes in ways that were impossible for West Germany. For instance, France was able to offer enrichment and reprocessing services when exporting such technologies became harder.144 Second, whereas in France domestic demand for nuclear energy was relatively high, in West Germany firms depended more on exports and had to contend with an anti-nuclear movement at home. For Bonn this not only created multilateral impediments to its nuclear exports but also made it more desperate to export nuclear technologies. The outcome was major U.S.–West German disagreement on nuclear exports and nonproliferation.

The pro-export lobby in France never completely disappeared. Worried that U.S. nonproliferation policies could irrevocably hurt French nuclear exports, the CEA made large investments in R&D of new technologies and materials that were expected to be less prone to proliferation. An example is the Caramel fuel that was expected to be used in the French-constructed Osirak reactor in Iraq.145 By the 1980s, France had also developed two techniques for uranium enrichment that were expected to pose lower proliferation risks: CHEMEX (uranium chemical exchange enrichment process) and AVLIS (atomic vapor laser isotope separation).146

French cooperation with the United States on nonproliferation paid off during the later years of the Carter administration. The 1978 NNPA complicated U.S. supply commitments to India and South Africa, countries that were not signatories to the NPT and were believed to possess nuclear weapons programs. Under those circumstances, France emerged as the “non-U.S., non-Soviet” solution to U.S. supply-commitment woes. Soon after, the Reagan administration took this partnership further by outsourcing to France the U.S. supply commitments that the United States itself could no longer honor because of the NNPA.

West German firms continued to exploit legal loopholes by providing dual-use assistance to threshold states such as Iraq, South Africa, and others. Not until the 1991 Gulf War did West German firms’ involvement in the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program become public knowledge, creating outrage both inside and outside reunited Germany. The outrage sparked a complete overhaul of German nuclear export control legislation and also provided a window of opportunity to generate multilateral consensus among supplier states to adopt the Dual-Use Guidelines of the NSG in 1992.147

Implementing nonproliferation on the supply side was excruciatingly difficult for U.S. policymakers because of the multiple actors, considerations, and processes in the global nuclear marketplace. The challenges posed by the West European allies in the 1970s were monumental. With China's emergence as a major nuclear supplier in the 1980s and the consolidation of the A. Q. Khan network, the attainment of nonproliferation goals for the U.S. government waxed. At the core of nonproliferation efforts on the supply side was the dichotomy between the openness of trade and the controls imposed in the name of national and international security. The two rarely intersected, and when they did it was only for a short while.


The author is grateful to Robert Jervis, Steven E. Miller, Matthew Bunn, Martin Malin, John Krige, Alexandre Debs, Joseph F. Pilat, Maurice Vaïsse, Mario del Pero, Andrew Preston, William Walker, and the participants at Yale University's 2016 Conference on Cooperation and Conflict in the Nuclear Age, the MIT International Relations Work-in-Progress Group, the 2016 SHAFR Annual Meeting in San Diego, the 2017 SHAFR Summer Institute at Cambridge University, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on earlier drafts. Research for this article was made possible by funding from the Stanton Foundation, Harvard University's Project on Managing the Atom, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. Zachary Kopin and Namara Burki provided timely and effective research assistance in the archives.



White House Memorandum of Conversation with President Ford, Louis de Guiringaud, Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Jacques Koscuisko-Morizet, 1 October 1976, in National Security Adviser's Memoranda of Conversation, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library (GRFL), Ann Arbor, also available online at https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0314/1553548.pdf.


Confidential Telegram 21555 from the U.S. Embassy in Bonn to the Secretary of State, 23 December 1976, in NODIS, National Security Adviser Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Country File: Germany—State Department Telegrams (1), Box 7, Folder State Department Telegrams to SECSTATE-LIMIDIS (5), GRFL.


Secret Memorandum, “Kissinger's Visit to Pakistan—An Assessment from Washington,” prepared by K. V. Rajan, First Sec (Pol) on 13 August 1976, sent by A. P. Venkateswaran, Minister (Political) in Washington, DC, to I. P. Singh, Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Af), MEA, New Delhi, 15 August 1976, in WII/104/48/76, MEA, Dr. Henry Kissinger's Visit to Pakistan and France—Papers Re., 1976, National Archives of India (NAI), New Delhi.


Secret Memorandum, Prepared by J. S. Teja (Joint Secretary, Americans Division) at MEA, New Delhi, “India's Peaceful Nuclear Experiment- American Reaction,” 22 May 1974, in WII/103(18)74, MEA, India's Peaceful Nuclear Experiment—18.5.74—Official American Reaction, 1974, NAI.


In this article, “West Germany” and the “Federal Republic of Germany” (FRG) are used interchangeably.


For works that underline the importance of both multilateral and bilateral approaches, see William Burr, “A Scheme of ‘Control’: The United States and the Origins of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, 1974–1976,” The International History Review, Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 252–276. See also Rodney W. Jones et al., eds., The Nuclear Suppliers and Nonproliferation: International Policy Choices (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 1984).


Nuclear exports, nuclear assistance, and nuclear transfers are used interchangeably throughout this article.


The term “supply side” denotes the supply side of nuclear proliferation—why and how actors provide nuclear transfers that potentially can facilitate proliferation. The term “demand side” refers to why and how actors want to acquire nuclear weapons. On the supply side literature in political science, see Matthew Kroenig, Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010); and Matthew Fuhrmann, Atomic Assistance: How “Atoms for Peace” Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012).


In the 1950s, the question of offering a U.S. nuclear reactor to West Berlin brought the East-West political considerations to the fore. See Mara Drogan, “The Nuclear Nation and the German Question: An American Reactor in West Berlin,” Cold War History, Vol. 15, No. 3 (2015), pp. 301–319.


Michael J. Brenner, Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation: The Remaking of U.S. Policy (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 93–97.


Jones et al., eds., The Nuclear Suppliers and Nonproliferation, p. 67.


Brenner, Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation, p. 15. The 1970s also witnessed the formation of Eurodif (1973) and the Urenco Group (1971), joint commercial endeavors for enriching uranium that aimed to reduce West European dependence on the United States.


Francis J. Gavin, “Strategies of Inhibition: U.S. Grand Strategy, the Nuclear Revolution, and Nonproliferation,” International Security, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Summer 2015), pp. 9–46; Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012); Francis J. Gavin, “Blasts from the Past: Proliferation from the 1960s,” International Security, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Winter 2004/05), pp. 110–135; and Hal Brands, “Rethinking Nonproliferation: LBJ, the Gilpatric Committee and U.S. National Security Policy,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring 2006), pp. 83–113.


For historical scholarship, see Jeffrey Richelson and William Burr, “Whether to ‘Strangle the Baby in the Cradle’: The United States and the Chinese Nuclear Program, 1960–1964,” International Security, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Winter 2000/2001), pp. 54–99; William Burr, “A Scheme of ‘Control’: The United States and the Origins of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, 1974–1976,” The International History Review, Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 252–276; William Burr, “To ‘Keep the Genie Bottled Up’: U.S. Diplomacy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Gas Centrifuge Technology, 1962–1972,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring 2017), pp. 115–157; and William Glenn Gray, “Commercial Liberties and Nuclear Anxieties,” The International History Review, Vol. 34, No. 3 (2012), pp. 449–474. For political science scholarship, see Nicholas Miller, Stopping the Bomb: The Sources and Effectiveness of U.S. Nonproliferation Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018); Nicholas Miller, “The Secret Success of Nonproliferation Sanctions,” International Organization, Vol. 68, No. 4 (2014), pp. 913–944; Nicholas Miller, “Nuclear Dominoes: A Self-Defeating Prophecy?” Security Studies, Vol. 23, No. 1 (2014), pp. 33–73; and Gene Gerzhoy, “Alliance Coercion and Nuclear Restraint: How the United States Thwarted West Germany's Nuclear Ambitions,” International Security, Vol. 39, No. 4 (2014), pp. 91–129.


Or Rabinowitz and James Cameron, “Eight Lost Years? Nixon, Ford, Kissinger, and the Non-Proliferation Regime, 1969–1977,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 40, No. 6 (2016), pp. 839–866; Thomas Cavanna, “Geopolitics over Nonproliferation: The Origins of the Grand Strategy and the Implications for the Spread of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 40, No 4 (2016), pp. 576–603; and Or Rabinowitz, Bargaining on Nuclear Tests: Washington and Its Cold War Deals (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014). For a realist interpretation arguing that the United States bothered to conclude deals because nonproliferation mattered, see Or Rabinowitz and Nicholas L. Miller, “Keeping the Bombs in the Basement: U.S. Nonproliferation Policy toward Israel, South Africa, and Pakistan,” International Security, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Summer 2015), pp. 47–86.


John Krige, Sharing Knowledge, Shaping Europe: U.S. Technological Collaboration and Nonproliferation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016); John Krige and Jayita Sarkar, “U.S. Technological Collaboration for Nonproliferation: Key Evidence from the Cold War,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 25, No. 3–4 (2018), pp. 249–262; Isabelle Anstey, “Negotiating Nuclear Control: The Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group in the 1970s,” The International History Review, Vol. 40, No. 5 (2018), pp. 975–995; Jacob Darwin Hamblin, “The Nuclearization of Iran in the Seventies,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 38, No. 5 (2014), pp. 1114–1135; and Jonathan E. Helmreich, “The United States and the Formation of the EURATOM,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 15, No. 3 (July 1991), pp. 387–410.


Section 2 states: “Each State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to provide: (a) source or special fissionable material, or (b) equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear-weapon State for peaceful purposes, unless the source or special fissionable material shall be subject to the safeguards required by this Article.” See the text of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, in U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Basic Arms Control Agreements and Treaties (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990), p. 109.


Fritz W. Schmidt, “The Zangger Committee: Its History and Future Role,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1994), pp. 38–44.


On nuclear ambivalence, see Itty Abraham, “The Ambivalence of Nuclear Histories,” Osiris, Vol. 21 (2006), pp. 49–65.


Anstey, “Negotiating Nuclear Control,” pp. 975–976. On the political nature of determining the “control lists” of the multilateral export control framework known as the Wassenaar Arrangement (the direct successor of the Cold War–era COCOM), see Samuel A. Evans, “Technological Ambiguity and the Wassenaar Arrangement,” Ph.D. Diss., University of Oxford, 2009, redacted copy, obtained from Evans by the author.


Burr, “A Scheme of ‘Control,’” pp. 252–276.


The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the London Suppliers Conference are used interchangeably throughout the text.


The trigger list of the Zangger Committee consists of restricted items whose export will “trigger” IAEA safeguards. They are restricted because of their potential use in the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel cycles.


“National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 202,” 23 May 1974, in Nixon Presidential Library and Museum (NPLM), available online at http://www.nixonlibrary.gov/virtuallibrary/documents/nssm/nssm_202.pdf.


“Memorandum for President from Robert S. Ingersoll, Chairman of NSC Undersecretaries Committee, NSC-U/DM-7A, 4 December 1974,” in NARA, CREST, CIA-RDP81B00080R001600010016-7.




Walker, “Nuclear Power and Nonproliferation,” pp. 215–249.


In January 1976, when the NSG guidelines were finalized, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs George Vest, who was a key figure at the negotiations, noted that although the United States had succeeded in getting the French and the West Germans to agree in principle to restrict the export of sensitive nuclear technologies, their indigenous development and unsafeguarded facilities continued to pose risks to U.S. nonproliferation goals. See “George Vest to the Secretary, ‘Nuclear Suppliers Status Report,’” 27 January 1976, in NARA, Record Group (RG) 59, Office of the Counselor, 1955–77, Box 7, Nuclear Suppliers Conference, obtained by William Burr, who contributed a copy to the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive <http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119821>.


Dane Swango, “The United States and the Role of Nuclear Co-operation and Assistance in the Design of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” The International History Review, Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 210–229. See also Roham Alvandi, Nixon, Kissinger, and the Shah: The United States and Iran in the Cold War (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 157.


Brenner, Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation, p. 156.


Secret telegram from U.S. embassy in Tehran to State Department, 14 April 1977, in 1977TEHRAN03219, RG59, NARA. See also Brenner, Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation, p. 154; and Farzan Sabet, “The April 1977 Persepolis Conference on the Transfer of Nuclear Technology: A Third World Revolt against US Non-Proliferation Policy?” The International History Review, Vol. 40, No. 5 (2018), pp. 1134–1151.


In 1979, the Carter administration found Pakistan to be in violation of the Symington Amendment owing to its clandestine construction of a uranium enrichment plant. See Mitchell Reiss, Bridled Ambitions: Why Countries Constrain Their Nuclear Capabilities (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), pp. 213–214.


Presidential Directive/NSC-8, Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy, 24 March 1977, in Jimmy Carter Library, https://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/assets/documents/directives/pd08.pdf (accessed 27 September 2018).


For an analysis of the domestic and international policy changes sought by the Carter administration, see Brenner, Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation, pp. 116–212.


Frederick Williams et al., “The Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978,” International Security, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Fall 1978), pp. 44–66.


William Walker and Måns Lönnroth, Nuclear Power Struggles: Industrial Competition and Proliferation Control (London: Allen & Unwin, 1983), p. 54.


Ibid., p. 62.


Harald Müller, After the Scandals: West German Nonproliferation Policy (Frankfurt: Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, 1990).




On Ostpolitik and West Germany's aspirations to play a major role on international platforms on issues such as terrorism, see Bernhard Blumenau, The United Nations and Terrorism: Germany, Multilateralism, and Antiterrorism Efforts in the 1970s (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). On Helmut Schmidt's management of the policy of Ostpolitik after Willy Brandt, see Stephan Kieninger, The Diplomacy of Détente: Cooperative Security Policies from Helmut Schmidt to George Shultz (London: Routledge, 2018), ch. 1.


For a transnational history of anti-nuclear activism in West Germany and France during this period, see Andrew S. Tompkins, Better Active Than Radioactive! Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).


The U.S. embassy in Bonn reassured Washington that because the Bundestag had already completed parliamentary ratification of the treaty, West Germany was unlikely to reverse course. Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, “Indian Nuclear Testing and FRG NPT Ratification,” 20 May 1974, in 1974BONN08038, Central Foreign Policy Files, RG 59, State Department Telegrams Created 7/1/1973-12/31/1979, NARA; and Secret Telegram from State Department to U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, 22 May 1974, in 1974STATE106702, Central Foreign Policy Files, RG 59, State Department Telegrams Created 7/1/1973-12/31/1979, NARA.


On West German-Brazilian nuclear cooperation in the 1970s, see Gray, “Commercial Liberties and Nuclear Anxieties,” pp. 449–474; Fabian Hilfrich, “Roots of Animosity: Bonn's Reaction to US Pressures in Nuclear Proliferation,” The International History Review, Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 277–301; William Lowrance, “Nuclear Futures for Sale: To Brazil from West Germany,” International Security, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 1976), pp. 147–166; Dennis Romberg, “How to Further Develop the Nonproliferation Regime? West German Nuclear Exports to Brazil and Iran in Context of US Criticism,” The International History Review, Vol. 40, No. 5 (2018), pp. 1094–1114; Dani K. Nedal and Tatiana Cuotto, “Brazil's 1975 Nuclear Agreement with West Germany,” NPIHP Research Update, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Washington, DC, August 2013; and Carlo Patti, “Origins and Evolution of the Brazilian Nuclear Program (1947–2011),” NPIHP Research Update, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Washington, DC, November 2012.


BBC News, “On This Day, 1974: Giscard d'Estaing Voted as French President” [19 May 1974], On This Day 1950–2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/19/newsid_2510000/2510979.stm.


Georges-Henri Soutou, “La France et la non-prolifération nucléaire: Une histoire complexe,” Revue historique des armées, Vol. 262 (2011), pp. 35–45. For an overview of the evolution of French nonproliferation policy, see also Bruno Tertrais, “France and Nuclear Non-Proliferation: From Benign Neglect to Active Promotion,” in Olav Njolstad, ed., Nuclear Proliferation and International Order: Challenges to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (New York: Routledge, 2011), pp. 217–226.


Florent Pouponneau, “Les changements de la politique française d'exportation nucléaires (1974–1976): Un triple double jeu,” Critique Internationale, Vol. 58, No. 1 (2013), p. 112.


Maurice Vaïsse, “L'historiographie française relative au nucléaire,” Revue historique des armées, Vol. 262 (2011), pp. 3–8; and Maurice Vaïsse, ed., La France et l'atome: Etudes d'histoire nucléaire (Brussels: Bruylant, 1994).


See Kenneth N. Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better, Adelphi Papers (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981).


France became the only non-NPT state to participate in the NSG. For the differences between diplomats at Quai d'Orsay and scientists at the CEA over French participation in the NSG and the subsequent adherence to the NSG guidelines in French nuclear export policy, see Florent Pouponneau and Frédéric Merand, “Diplomatic Practices, Domestic Fields, and the International System: Explaining France's Shift on Nuclear Nonproliferation,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 1 (2017), pp. 123–135. See also William Burr, “The Making of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, 1974–1976,” NPIHP Research Update, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Washington, DC, April 2014.


Georges Le Guelte, Histoire de la menace nucléaire (Paris, France: Hachette, 1997), pp. 213–214.


In January 1976, South Korea, yielding to U.S. pressure, canceled its contract with France to build a reprocessing plant.


SGN was also the French firm that provided French nuclear weapons assistance to Israel. On the Israeli nuclear program, see Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1998); and Avner Cohen, Worst-Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain with the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).


Text of Safeguards Agreement of 18 March 1976 between the Agency, France, and Pakistan, INFCIRC/239 (Vienna: IAEA, June 1976), available online at https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/infcircs/1976/infcirc239.pdf.


“M. Jacques Chirac rejette la proposition américaine d'une négociation tripartite sur l'accord franco-pakistanais,” Le Monde, 12 August 1976, pp. 1–4.


Telegram from US Secretary of State to USDel Secretary Entitled, “Press Material,” August 1976, in Electronic Telegrams 1/1/1976–12/31/1976, Central Foreign Policy Files, RG59, NARA.


Memorandum for Major General Brent Scowcroft from George S. Springsteen, with Attachment, “Paper on France,” 21 August 1974, in National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 3, Folder France (1), GRFL.


“Nuclear Exporters Conference: Conversation of ACDA Director Ikle and Quai d'Orsay Secretary General de Courcel,” 29 November 1974, 1974PARIS28614, quoted in Pouponneau, “Les changements de la politique,” p. 105.




State Department Briefing Paper, “Bilateral Talks during UNGA, France—Foreign Minister Sauvagnargues,” September 1975, in National Security Adviser, NSC Europe, Canada and Ocean Affairs Country Files 1974–1977, Box 8, Folder France, 1975 WH (5), GRFL.


White House Memorandum, “Meeting with French Foreign Minister Louis de Guiringaud,” from Brent Scowcroft, 1 October 1976, in National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 3, Folder France (9), GRFL.


Such a demand for compensation by the nuclear industry was not unthinkable. The Canadian government was sued by a company that lost its contract in India in 1976.


On U.S. efforts to dissuade Pakistan, see Or Rabinowitz and Jayita Sarkar, “‘It Isn't Over Until the Fuel Cell Sings’: A Reassessment of U.S. and French Pledges of Nuclear Assistance in the 1970s,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 41, No. 1–2 (2018), pp. 275–300. For Pakistani perspectives on this subject, see also Feroze Khan, Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013); and Rabia Akhtar, “Making of the Seventh NWS: Historiography of the Beginning of the Nuclear Disorder in South Asia,” The International History Review, Vol. 40, No. 5 (2018), pp. 1115–1133.


Letter from Top-Ranking French Official in Charge of Scientific and Technical Questions at Quai d'Orsay in the 1970s and 1980s, Document, Florent Pouponneau, June 2017, in the author's possession.


Secret Memorandum, “Kissinger's Visit to Pakistan.”




Memorandum for Henry Kissinger from David Elliott, Jan Lodal, and Hal Sonnenfeldt, “Meeting with the French on Non-Proliferation, Safeguards, and the Nuclear Exporters Conference,” October 1974, in National Security Adviser, NSC Europe, Canada and Ocean Affairs Country Files 1974–1977, Box 7, Folder France, 1974 (3) WH, GRFL.


On Franco-American tensions during the de Gaulle years of the French Fifth Republic (1959–1969), see Frank Costigliola, “The Failed Design: Kennedy, de Gaulle and the Struggle for Europe,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 8, No. 3 (July 1984), pp. 227–252; and Marc Trachtenberg, “The de Gaulle Problem,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1 (2012), pp. 81–92. See also Frank Costigliola, France and the United States: The Cold Alliance since World War II (New York: Macmillan, 1992).


National Security Action Memorandum 294, “U.S. Nuclear and Strategic Delivery System Assistance to France,” 20 April 1964, in National Security Action Memorandums, NSF, Box 3, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library.


National Security Decision Memorandum 103, “Military Cooperation with France,” 29 March 1971, in NPLM, https://www.nixonlibrary.gov/virtuallibrary/documents/nsdm/nsdm_103.pdf; and National Security Decision Memorandum 104, “Cooperation with France in Nuclear Safety,” 29 March 1971, in NPLM, https://www.nixonlibrary.gov/virtuallibrary/documents/nsdm/nsdm_104.pdf.


Although the U.S.-French bilateral relationship no longer had the public acrimony of the de Gaulle era, bilateral differences persisted during the Nixon-Pompidou years, especially over transatlantic economic cooperation after the end of the Bretton Woods system in 1971. Moreover, U.S. technical assistance to France in specialized areas such as space and rocketry was calibrated to stall French technological autonomy. On the former, see Marc Trachtenberg, “The French Factor in U.S. Foreign Policy during the Nixon-Pompidou Period, 1969–1974,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2011), pp. 4–59. On the latter, see John Krige, “Embedding the National in the Global: US-French Relationships in Space Science and Rocketry in the 1960s,” in John Krige and Naomi Oreskes, eds., Science and Technology in the Global Cold War (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014), pp. 227–250.


U.S. Department of State Memorandum from George Springsteen for Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, “Export of an Advanced Computer for French Nuclear Weapons Program,” 19 August 1975, in National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Canada-State Department Telegrams, Box 3, Folder France (5), GRFL.




Secretary of State's Memorandum to the President, “Control Data Corporation's Request for Export License,” 15 May 1976, in National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Canada-State Department Telegrams, Box 3, Folder France (7), GRFL.




U.S. Department of State Memorandum for Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft by George S. Springsteen, “Department of State Views on US/French Bilateral Issues,” 5 September 1975, in National Security Adviser Files, NSC Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs Staff: Files, 1974–1977, Country File: France, 1975 WH (5), Box 8, Folder France, 1975 (6) WH, GRFL.


The gaseous diffusion enrichment process generates waste matter known as depleted uranium or uranium tails.


Franco-Soviet cooperation was not unique to the nuclear domain. France retained much of the strong partnership it had developed with the Soviet Union in space technology in the 1960s. For more on this subject, see Isabelle Gouarné, “Dépasser les tensions Est-Ouest pour la conquête de l'espace: La coopération franco-soviétique au temps de la guerre froide,” Les Cahiers Sirice, Vol. 16 (2016), pp. 49–67.


William M. Drodziak, “Europeans Turning to Soviet Uranium,” The New York Times, 6 July 1975, p. 11.


Oleg Bukharin, “Understanding Russia's Uranium Enrichment Complex,” Science and Global Security, Vol. 12 (2004), p. 218. For an extended analysis, see Gloria Duffy, “Soviet Nuclear Export,” International Security, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Summer 1978), pp. 83–111.


COCOM had three lists with technical specifications of items to be controlled: a munitions list (military items), a nuclear energy list (sources of fissionable materials and nuclear reactors and their components), and an industrial/commercial list.


Starting in 1973, West Germany and the Soviet Union had been negotiating for the West German construction of a power reactor in the Soviet oblast of Kaliningrad, bordering on Poland. NSDM 298 stated that the United States was prepared to grant an exemption to the West German reactor sale pending before COCOM if the Soviet Union supplied the uranium and gave assurances that it would be used solely for peaceful purposes. Differences that emerged between Bonn and Moscow by 1976 over financing for the project and East German opposition derailed the negotiations, and no reactor was ever built. See National Security Decision Memorandum 298, 14 June 1975, in GRFL, available online at https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0310/nsdm298.pdf. See also Secret Telegram from the State Department to the U.S. Embassy in Bonn Containing Text of the Letter from Kissinger on 19 October 1974, Nodis, in National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada: Germany (7), Box 6, GRFL.


French-Iranian nuclear cooperation contracts that were under way during this period involved reactors to be built under Framatome/Westinghouse joint licenses. On concurrent French, West German, and U.S. negotiations with Iran on nuclear cooperation, see Hamblin, “The Nuclearization of Iran in the Seventies,” pp. 1114–1135.


National Security Decision Memorandum 275, “COCOM Position on the Return of Depleted Uranium (Tails) from the USSR,” 10 October 1974, in GRFL, available online at https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0310/nsdm275.pdf.




“Department of State Views on US/French Bilateral Issues,” 5 September 1975.


Some scholars might argue that these transactional bargains between France and the United States were part of the general improved bilateral relations or the outcome of U.S. secret nuclear assistance to the French nuclear weapons program beginning in the Nixon years. However, it is not absolutely certain that the “negative guidance” offered by the U.S. government to the French nuclear weapons program as part of the secret assistance provided during the Nixon era was indeed for French cooperation in the domain of nuclear nonproliferation. This can be said only for a handful of U.S.-French agreements after 1974, such as those mentioned in this article. For U.S. secret nuclear assistance to France during the Nixon administration, see William Burr, “U.S. Secret Assistance to the French Nuclear Program, 1969–1975: From ‘Fourth Country’ to Strategic Partner,” NPIHP Research Update, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Washington, DC, July 2011. See also Richard H. Ullman, “The Covert French Connection,” Foreign Policy, No. 75 (Summer 1989), pp. 3–33.


Anonymous German academic expert on nonproliferation during the Schmidt-Carter era, interview, 4 May 2016.


The term “threshold states” here denotes countries that do not possess nuclear weapons but have either the technological capability to develop nuclear weapons or the political intent to do so. Determining which country is a threshold state can be politically contentious and is therefore often ambiguous.


Erwin Hackel, “International Nuclear Commerce and Nonproliferation: A West German View,” in Jones et al., eds., The Nuclear Suppliers and Nonproliferation, pp. 71–79.


Under the Nixon administration, the weakness of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates was a major source of West German economic concern, spurring Bonn to float the Deutschmark in 1969, 1971, and 1973. On this subject, see William Glenn Gray, “Floating the System: Germany, the United States, and the Breakdown of Bretton Woods, 1969–1973,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 31, No. 2 (April 2007), pp. 295–323.


Gray, “Commercial Liberties and Nuclear Anxieties,” p. 450.


Joseph S. Nye Jr., interview, Cambridge, MA, 6 October 2015. During the Carter administration, Nye served as the State Department official chiefly responsible for nuclear nonproliferation issues.


Memorandum of Conversation Held in Bonn, 23 May 1976, 3:00–3:20 p.m., in Records of the Office of the Counselor, Helmut C. Sonnenfeldt, 1955–1977, Entry 5339, Box 5, Germany 1976, Secret; Nodis, RG 59, NARA.






Memorandum from Counsellor Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Washington, 28 May 1976, in Records of the Office of the Counselor, Helmut C. Sonnenfeldt, 1955–1977, Entry 5339, Box 5, Germany 1976, Secret; Nodis, RG 59, NARA.


Memorandum of Conversation of the Secretary's Meeting with FRG Ambassador von Staden, Washington, DC, 2 July 1976, in Records of the Office of the Counselor, Helmut C. Sonnenfeldt, 1955–1977, Entry 5339, Box 5, Germany 1976, Secret; Nodis, RG 59, NARA.


Hilfrich, “Roots of Animosity,” p. 285.


Annual Political Report for 1978, No. BON/POL/101/1/78, Secret, Prepared by Second Secretary (Political) D. J. Bell, 15 January 1979, in Folder: Annual Reports, etc., for the Year 1978 from the Embassy of India, Bonn (FRG), Berlin (FRG), Research and Intelligence Section (Historical Division), MEA, HI/1011/18/79, NAI.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, 25 September 1974, in 1974STATE15167, RG 59, NARA.


On French-Indian nuclear cooperation during these years, see Jayita Sarkar, “Franco-Indian Nuclear Relations and U.S. Nonproliferation Efforts in the Cold War, 1948–1978,” Ph.D. Diss., Graduate Institute Geneva, 2014, ch. 3.


Heavy water, or deuterium oxide, is used as a moderator in nuclear power plants. The CANDU reactors sold by Canada are heavy water moderated. India imported heavy water from the United States for the CANDU-type CIRUS reactor from which it used plutonium for its 1974 nuclear explosion. After the 1974 test when the future of both Canadian and U.S. nuclear assistance to India became uncertain, Indian officials began to explore indigenous construction of heavy-water plants. The first such plant was built in Kota, Rajasthan. The Kota heavy water plant was adjacent to the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, where two CANDU-type reactors were under construction in the 1970s. The West German company Borsig sought to export centrifugal compressors for the Kota heavy water plant when it was under construction.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, 22 October 1974, in 1974STATE16577, RG59, NARA.


By 1975, West German firms had started negotiations for the supply of a heavy-water plant to Pakistan, much to the anguish of the Ford administration. Secret Telegram 040475 from State Department to U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, February 1976, in EXDIS, GFRL.


Full-scope safeguards of the IAEA are implemented on all known facilities of the concerned state. Safeguards are mechanisms to prevent diversion of technologies, materials, and equipment from peaceful to military nuclear uses.


Centrifugal compressors are industrial items that are not used solely in heavy-water plants. They are a kind of turbomachinery that have a wide range of uses in air compression, gas drilling, pipeline compression, and other civilian uses in many industrial sectors.


Secret Telegram from State Department to U.S. Embassy in Bonn, September 1975, in 1975STATE220753, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, September 1975, in 1975BONN15439, RG59, NARA. See also Individual Atomic Law License Cases—KWU, FU, BAM, BORSIG, 1976–1978, RG 84, Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the U.S. State Department, U.S. Mission Berlin, NARA.


U.S. State Department Action Memorandum for U.S. Secretary of State from Alfred L. Atherton Jr. and Samuel Lewis Entitled, “Nuclear Export Policy toward India,” 26 December 1974, in RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Records of the Policy, Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969–1977, Box 368, Folder: Sensitive Non-China Chron 1975. Document acquired by William Burr and shared with me.


U.S. State Department Briefing Memorandum for U.S. Secretary of State from Winston Lord Entitled, “Export of Trays to India,” 13 January 1975, in RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Records of the Policy, Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969–1977, Box 368, Folder: Sensitive Non-China Chron 1975. Document acquired by William Burr and shared with me.


Secret Memorandum, Foreign Minister Azerado da Silveira, Information for the President of Brazil, “Nuclear Issues. Meeting at 13/02/78. Alvadora Palace,” 13 February 1978, in Document ID 116877, Wilson Center Digital Archive, http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116877.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, December 1975, in 1975BONN20807, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from State Department to U.S. Embassy in Bonn, September 1975, in 1975STATE220753, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, December 1975, in 1975BONN20877, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, December 1975, in 1975BONN20633, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, May 1976, in 1976BONN12368, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, January 1977, in 1976BONN01572, RG 59, NARA.


Top Secret Telegram from O. Wormser at the French Embassy in Bonn to the “Directeurs” at the French Foreign Ministry in Paris (No. 1197/1202), Diffussion strictement réservée, Objet: Non prolifération, exportation de compresseurs par Borsig (Berlin), 21 April 1976, in Carton 206INVA, Direction Asie-Océanie, Inde 2253, 1973–1980, Archives Diplomatiques Françaises (ADF), La Courneuve, France.


Secret Telegram from Paul Henry at the French Embassy in Bonn to the French high commission in Berlin (No. 1416/1425) and to French Foreign Ministry in Paris (No. 3299/3308), Diffussion strictement réservée, Objet: Demande de la firme Borsig pour l'exportation de turbo-compresseurs vers l'Inde, 5 November 1976, in Carton 206INVA, Direction Asie-Océanie Inde 2253, 1973–1980, ADF.




Annual Political Report for 1974, No. GDR/101/2/74, Secret, Prepared by Ambassador A.R. Deo, 31 January 1975, Folder: Annual reports from Berlin (GDR)—1974, Research and Intelligence Section (Historical Division), HI/1011(100)/75, MEA, NAI.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, January 1977, in 1977BONN01572, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, February 1977, in 1977BONN02103, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, January 1978, in 1978BONN00521, RG 59, NARA.


“Carter Orders Sale of Uranium for Power Facility,” The New York Times, 27 April 1978, p. 17; and “A Nuclear Gamble on India,” The New York Times, 1 May 1978, p. 20.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, May 1978, in 1978BONN09790, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, 1 September 1978, in 1978BONN15994, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from U.S. Embassy in Bonn to State Department, May 1976, in 1976BONN12368, RG 59, NARA.


Secret Telegram from State Department to U.S. Embassy in Berlin, 22 September 1978, in 1978STATE242694, RG 59, NARA.


In 1971, the CMEA countries led by the Soviet Union adopted a “Comprehensive Program for the Further Extension and Improvement of Cooperation and the Development of Socialist Economic Integration,” which aimed to enhance economic integration within the Eastern bloc. On this topic, see Richard Szawlowski, The System of the International Organizations of the Communist Countries (Leiden, The Netherlands: A. W. Sjithoff, 1976), pp. 123–128.


Sonja Schmid, “Nuclear Colonization? Soviet Technopolitics in the Second World,” in Gabrielle Hecht, ed., Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), p. 141.


On Soviet nuclear energy enterprise, see Sonja Schmid, Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015).


Soviet attempts to steal Western technical knowhow in the 1970s are well documented through the case of the “Farewell Dossier.” For an overview, see Gus Weiss, “The Farewell Dossier: Duping the Soviets,” published in the CIA's in-house Studies in Intelligence, available online in the CIA Electronic Reading Room <https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom>.


“Soviets to Sell India Heavy Water for Use in Nuclear Program,” The New York Times, 9 December 1976, p. 7.


Annual Reports from Prague—1974, Research and Intelligence Section (Historical Division), Annual Political Apercu for 1974, No. PRA/POL/101/2/75, Secret, Prepared by Amb. V. Siddharthacharry, 14 January 1975, in HI/1011(25)/75, MEA, NAI.


Annual Political Report for 1975, No. GDR/101/1/75, Secret, Prepared by Ambassador A.R. Deo, 27 January 1976, in Folder: Annual Reports from Berlin (GDR) for the Year 1975, Research and Intelligence Section (Historical Division), HI/1011(100)/76, MEA, NAI.


Telegram from Ambassador Jean-Claude Winckler, French Embassy in New Delhi, to French Foreign Ministry (No. 1027/29), Objet: Inde-URSS, 11 December 1976, in Carton 206INVA, Direction Asie-Océanie Inde 2253, 1973–1980, ADF.


“Soviets to Sell India Heavy Water for Use in Nuclear Program,” p. 7. See also Balázs Szalontai, “The Elephant in the Room: The Soviet Union and India's Nuclear Program, 1967–1989, NPIHP Working Paper No. 1, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Washington, DC, November 2011; and Yogesh Joshi, “Between Principles and Pragmatism: India and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime in the Post-PNE Era, 1974–1980,” The International History Review, Vol. 40, No. 5 (2018), pp. 1073–1093.


Telegram from Ambassador Jean-Claude Winckler, French Embassy in New Delhi to French Foreign Ministry (No. 1027/29), Objet: Inde-URSS, 11 December 1976.


Duffy, “Soviet Nuclear Export,” p. 97.


The need to control technical know-how (more than goods and equipment) for U.S. national security reasons was prominently stated in the 1976 Bucy Report and later came up in the context of U.S. congressional debates on the 1979 Export Administration Act. For more on this subject, see John Krige, “Regulating International Knowledge Exchange: The National Security State and the American Research University from the 1950s to Today,” Technology and Culture, Vol. 60, No. 1 (January 2019, pp. 252–277.


Khan, Eating Grass, p. 132. This claim is also made by a former French foreign ministry official, who went so far as to say that because Pakistan could not successfully build the reprocessing plant, even when equipped with sensitive blueprints, French-Pakistani cooperation posed little proliferation risk. This is based on a letter from a top-ranking French official in charge of scientific and technical questions at Quai d'Orsay, document furnished to me by Florent Pouponneau in June 2017.


Whether Brazil's parallel nuclear weapons program launched in 1978 used the blueprints shared by West Germany is unknown. See Gray, “Commercial Liberties and Nuclear Anxieties,” pp. 462, 465.


On the French offer to enrich uranium for Iran in France, see Hamblin, “The Nuclearization of Iran in the Seventies,” pp. 1114–1135.


On the Osirak reactor and Israel's counterproliferation strike, see Shai Feldman, “The Bombing of Osiraq—Revisited,” International Security, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1982), pp. 114–142; and Malfrid-Braut Hegghammer, “Revisiting Osirak: Preventive Attacks and Nuclear Proliferation Risks,” International Security, Vol. 36, No. 1 (2011), pp. 101–132.


Science and Weapons Daily Review, 9 August 1984, in Top Secret, Director of Intelligence, CREST, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000680140.pdf.


On the overhaul of German export controls, see Harald Müller et al., From Black Sheep to White Angel? The New German Export Controls Policy, PRIF Reports No. 32 (Frankfurt: Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, January 1994).