Ambiguity and Deterrence: British Nuclear Strategy, 1945-1964

By John Baylis | Go to book overview

4
The 1952 Global Strategy Paper:
Continuity and Change

I have never wished since our decision during the war that England should start the manufacture of atomic bombs. Research, however, must be energetically pursued. We should have the art rather than the article . . . There is no point in going into bulk production even if we were able to.

( Winston Churchill, Nov. 1951)

WITHIN a year of Winston Churchill's return to power in November 1951, Sir John Slessor and the other Chiefs of Staff, Sir William Slim and Sir Rhoderick McGrigor, had undertaken another major review of strategy and Britain had conducted its first atomic weapons test at Monte Bello off the north-west coast of Australia. The Prime Minister saw defence policy and nuclear developments as very much an area of his own expertise and competence. He had been responsible for initiating the atomic energy project during the war and establishing the nuclear partnership with the United States which, through the Manhattan Project, had brought about the development of the atomic weapons used against Japan in August 1945. On returning to office he took on the Defence Portfolio himself for a few months and set about the task of developing closer ties with the United States, which he believed had been badly handled by the previous Labour government. Despite the new high-level focus on the atomic energy programme, however, Churchill found the task of resolving the intractable problems associated with nuclear weapons no easier than his predecessor. This was, in part, because his own attitude towards atomic weapons was ambivalent.

-126-

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