A nuclear education: the origins of NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group

Online seminar with Professor Timothy Andrews Sayle, the University of Toronto

If you would like to participate in this online seminar, please register here. All participants will receive a Zoom invitation in advance.



This article examines the debate, and sometimes lack of debate, over nuclear issues in NATO from the beginning of the alliance to the mid-1960s and reveals how American officials changed their approach to deal with NATO’s nuclear issues. In the 1950s, US officials released only limited information about nuclear weapons that were a part of NATO’s war plans. Gradually, they determined that some of NATO’s major tensions stemmed from their allies’ lack of information about the extent of the US nuclear arsenal and its intended uses. After several halting steps, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara decided that US interests could be best met by offering the allies a nuclear education.


Speaker biography

Timothy Andrews Sayle is Assistant Professor of History and Director of the International Relations Program at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order (Cornell, 2019). He has co-edited two volumes: with Jeffrey A. Engel, Hal Brands, and William Inboden The Last Card: Inside George W. Bush’s Decision to Surge in Iraq (Cornell, 2019); and with Susan Colbourn, The Nuclear North: Histories of Canada in the Atomic Age (University of British Columbia Press, 2020). His research on NATO, Canadian-American relations, and intelligence issues has been published in Canadian Military History, Cold War History, Intelligence & National Security, International Journal, International History Review, Historical Journal, International Politics, The Journal of Strategic Studies, and in several edited books.

Professor Sayle is a Senior Fellow of the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, an affiliate of the Centre for the Study of the United States, and an associate of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. He is a Fellow of Trinity College and alumnus of Massey College.

Published Oct. 23, 2020 10:24 AM - Last modified Oct. 23, 2020 12:05 PM