Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



This project examines how successive American administrations confronted the international spread of nuclear weapons. The focus is on the decision-making processes of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon when confronting atomic weapons development in Israel and India. It seeks to identify influences on presidential perceptions of the phenomenon of nuclear proliferation. These include initiatives at the United Nations, reportage from the intelligence community, the advice of administration officials, and the positioning of foreign governments.

The American response to the Israeli and Indian cases prior to 1974 played a formative role in the development of non-proliferation policy in subsequent decades. The decisions made by presidents primarily sought to address challenges raised by the non-proliferation initiatives of their predecessors. Through historical analysis of these cases, seemingly disjointed reactions can provide insight into presidential decision-making and the "second wave" of nuclear weapons development—that of non-Security Council nations.

Level of Honors

cum laude




Peter Blitstein