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Britain and the BombNuclear Diplomacy, 1964-1970$
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David James Gill

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804786584

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804786584.001.0001

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A British Bomb

A British Bomb

(p.11) 1 A British Bomb
Britain and the Bomb

David James Gill

Stanford University Press

This chapter offers an overview of nuclear policy between 1945 and 1962. It charts the development of British nuclear diplomacy in the post-war period, focusing on the major themes that Wilson would come to face during his time in office. A desire for strategic independence, US-UK nuclear tensions, and the emergence of a commitment to measures of non-proliferation are perhaps the clearest historical antecedents. The role of the economy in British nuclear history also receives attention. Balance of payments deficits, the threat of devaluation, and anxieties about comparative decline influenced successive governments’ handling of the British nuclear weapons programme. Harold Wilson’s rise through government weaves into this historical account. The post-war period represented the future prime minister’s formative years in the British political system and helps to contextualise his later actions in office.

Keywords:   British nuclear history, Attlee, Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Cold War, Economy

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