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Key Issues Nuclear Weapons History Presidential Policies Carter Nuclear Events

President Jimmy Carter - Nuclear Events


Carter reaffirms commitment to the NPT and delays US recycling and reprocessing of plutonium. See Non Proliferation Treaty document.

Carter announces that the US has tested a neutron bomb, which has less explosive power than the atom and hydrogen bomb, but more immediate radiation.

Carter seeks US-ASAT (Anti-satellite) capability, unless Soviets take “positive steps” to preclude such a need. See ASAT document.

April 1978
Carter cancels development of the neutron bomb.

Carter creates guidelines for nuclear “programs of cooperation” with other states. (There is no reference to the NPT.) See document.

April 1979
Carter reaffirms ballistic missile commitment to NATO, but the details remain classified. See NATO document.

Carter and Brezhnev (USSR) sign the Second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) in Vienna.

Carter and Brezhnev

September 1979

Wary of Soviet ICBMs, Carter approves the MX program. US Airforce Explanation of MX Program: A Nutshell Game

December 1979
Carter requests a considerable increase in defense spending and signs Presidential Directive 59 (Schwartz 16), which calls for US capability to wage a protracted nuclear war.

In response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter withdraws SALT II from consideration by the Senate for ratification. Carter Video Clip, News Clip with White House Press Secretary Jody Powell, Senator Richard Lugar (D-IN), Senator George Mcgovern (D-SD), Presidential Candidate Howard Baker (R-TN)

Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Carter signs the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials at New York.

December 1980 US passes the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund), which taxes chemical and petroleum companies and uses the money to clean up hazardous substances.

Carter names the threat of nuclear weapons as one of the top three issues for the next president. Carter’s Farewell Speech.

Nuclear Stockpiles