This issue begins with an article by Giordana Pulcini and Or Rabinowitz discussing the Israeli air force's attempt to destroy the Osirak nuclear processing facility in Iraq forty years ago, in June 1981. They focus, in particular, on how the raid and its aftermath affected U.S. policy regarding nuclear nonproliferation. Iraq under Saddam Hussein had been seeking to use the Osirak plant to produce large supplies of highly enriched uranium for a nuclear arsenal. The raid occurred only a short while after the new U.S. administration under Ronald Reagan had taken office, and the administration was caught off-guard by the event. The authors show that this was in part because of the inadequate transfer of information in Washington during the transition from the Carter administration to the Reagan administration, and in part because of misunderstandings between U.S. and Israeli officials. When responding to the raid, the administration had to cope with the complex politics of the Middle East and the bias of the United Nations (UN) against Israel. The article explains how tension that arose between the Reagan administration and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN body that handled implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, over the Osirak raid had longer-term effects on the administration's nonproliferation policy, including the role of the IAEA in dealing with Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
The next article, by Margaret Manchester, examines the diverse roles of private corporations in the Cold War, focusing on the experience of the giant U.S. company International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT). In 1949, as the Cold War was sharply deteriorating, the Hungarian authorities arrested two Western executives of the Hungarian subsidiary of ITT—one from the United States, Robert Vogeler, and the other from Great Britain, Edgar Sanders—as well as five Hungarian employees. They were tortured and imprisoned for more than a year after sham trials on charges of espionage and sabotage. The Stalinist regime in Hungary came under strong international pressure to release the ITT executives and eventually did free them well before their prison sentences were up. The U.S. government at the time insisted that the ITT personnel were innocent. After examining declassified records from both Hungary and the United States, Manchester finds that in fact Vogeler and Sanders were providing sensitive information to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The case was important not only in affecting the CIA's ties with Western multinational corporations and other private entities but also in revealing the negligible leeway for East-West diplomatic cooperation during the Stalin era.
The next article, by Alanna O'Malley, shifts the focus to Congo-Léopoldville, a country in sub-Saharan Africa that was repeatedly buffeted by the Cold War after it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. O'Malley discusses the Simba rebellion in eastern Congo in 1963–1965, when Cuban- and Soviet-backed insurgents captured a large swath of territory and set up a “People's Republic of Congo” in Stanleyville (now called Kisangani) to confront the pro-Western government in Léopoldville (now known as Kinshasa). In 1964 the rebels seized nearly 1,000 U.S. and European (mostly Belgian and British) nationals and sought to use them for leverage against the Congolese army, which, with Western backing, was moving in to crush the rebellion. The hostage-taking prompted Belgium and the United States to send in commandos whose mission ostensibly was to rescue the hostages. In reality, the main purpose of the intervention was to help the Congolese army suppress the Simba rebellion. Although the U.S.-Belgian troops ended the rebellion once and for all, the incursion damaged the West's image in Africa, where many governments were taken aback by the Congolese army's failure to prevent the Simba rebels and its own soldiers from perpetrating mass atrocities in late 1964 and by the Western powers’ conspicuous use of military force to safeguard their political and economic interests in Africa.
The next article, by Andrew Jenks, discusses the Apollo-Soyuz joint space mission in 1975, with its celebrated image of a handshake in space, as an example of cooperation between the two main Cold War adversaries. Earlier in the Cold War, with the orbiting of Sputnik and the U.S. Apollo 11 mission that brought human beings to the moon for the first time, U.S. and Soviet activities in outer space were distinctly competitive. The advent of East-West détente in the late 1960s and early 1970s resulted in proposals for cooperation in outer space, of which the best known was the Apollo-Soyuz Joint Test Project, the formal designation for the mission. Jenks explores how the mission came about and the impetus it gave to future space cooperation, especially the International Space Station. He maintains that the dramatic images of cooperation continued to resonate in both countries even after détente faded and Cold War tensions returned in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The final item, a research note by Jon Grams, looks at a particular type of thermonuclear bomb concept developed by Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (LRL) that was tested in the Operation Dominic series of 36 atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in 1962, the largest such series of atmospheric tests ever carried out by the United States (and also the final series before the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 outlawed atmospheric tests). The LRL concept, known as Ripple, was tested toward the end of the series, in October 1962. Although nothing about the concept was disclosed at the time and many details remain classified even now, Grams assembles evidence to show that Ripple was based on laser implosion that could achieve high yield-to-weight ratios for the fusion fuel in a thermonuclear bomb without relying on a fission primary. This concept of a “clean,” powerful device was not tested in a weaponized mode, but the success of Ripple's second conceptual test in the Dominic series was enough to indicate that a weapon could be developed if later needed. Although the United States ended up moving in different directions with its nuclear arsenal—toward the deployment of cruise missiles and of multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) on long-range ballistic missiles—the Ripple concept would have come in handy if the United States and the Soviet Union had negotiated a ban on MIRVs and the United States had needed to continue relying on large air-dropped bombs and powerful single-warhead missiles like the Titan II.
The issue ends with nine book reviews.