Date of Award

Spring 1990

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Patrick Rollins

Committee Member

G. William Whitehurst


France and the United States stand out as two major pioneer countries in the development of nuclear science. It was logical for France to join the nuclear club. But due to the extended responsibilities such an option implies, a lengthy difference of opinion developed between France and the United States. The former asserted its rights and its worldwide influence heedless of the decolonization process. The latter, heavily committed to the Western defense and its global interests, opposed the development of a strike force that it could not control. This disagreement led France to make specific reservations toward decision-making of the Atlantic Alliance's military body. This study, based on memoirs and published documents, reviews the military aspects of the nuclear relationship between both nations from the late 1930s to 1962. It concludes that the French military nuclear program revealed the two nations' differing perception of their sovereignty and international role. France gained through this program a technological edge which clearly ensues from de Gaulle's steadfast policy.