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Based on newly available Chinese and Russian archival documents and oral histories, this article examines the origins and evolution of Soviet policies concerning China’s nuclear weapons program from 1954 to 1960. The article argues that Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev consented only to assist China in developing nuclear energy in 1954 only because he needed Mao’s support in a domestic political struggle. But the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1958 unnerved the Russians, leading Khrushchev in June 1959 to rescind his promise to deliver a teaching model A-bomb to the Chinese. By August 1960 all Soviet specialists working on China’s nuclear weapons program were recalled. Nonetheless, the Soviet aid laid the foundation for China’s fledgling nuclear industry.