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also received private assurances from President Carter that he would honour the arrangement he had come to with Callaghan in which the USA would be prepared to negotiate the sale of Trident C4 missiles with MIRV technology (multiple, independently targetable re-entry vehicle), but Carter wished this kept private until SALT II was ratified. The decision to replace Polaris was managed by yet another small group of ministers (MISC 7), once more in extreme secrecy from both the public and the remainder of the Cabinet; in his initial

in Supreme emergency

the Skybolt programme was high-risk. The BNDSG had been scoping the generic technical requirements for a nuclear deterrent system that would remain in service and credible into the 1970s, and invulnerability to surprise attack was an increasingly significant factor in the conceptual discussions. 91 The Royal Navy began exploring the potential for a submarine-based deterrent in 1958. 92 A 1961 report by Flag Officer Submarines suggested the Royal Navy could purchase and operate submarines armed with American Polaris

in Supreme emergency
Abstract only
How Britain lives with the Bomb

An ex-Trident submarine captain considers the evolution of UK nuclear deterrence policy and the implications of a previously unacknowledged, enduring aversion to military strategies that threaten civilian casualties. This book draws on extensive archival research to provide a uniquely concise synthesis of factors affecting British nuclear policy decision-making, and draws parallels between government debates about reprisals for First World War Zeppelin raids on London, the strategic bombing raids of the Second World War and the development of the nuclear deterrent to continuous at-sea deterrence, through the end of the Cold War and the announcement of the Dreadnought programme. It develops the idea that, in a supreme emergency, a breach of otherwise inviolable moral rules might be excused, but never justified, in order to prevent a greater moral catastrophe; and it explores the related ethical concept of dirty hands – when a moral actor faces a choice between two inevitable actions, mutually exclusive but both reprehensible. It concludes that, amongst all the technical factors, government aversion to be seen to condone civilian casualties has inhibited government engagement with the public on deterrence strategy since 1915 and, uniquely among nuclear weapon states, successive British governments have been coy about discussing nuclear deterrence policy publicly because they feared to expose the complexity of the moral reasoning behind the policy, a reticence exacerbated by the tendency of policy and media investigation to be reduced to simplistic soundbites.

Tudor Jones

David Owen; Social Democratic Party; A Future That Will Work; Leighton Andrews; social market economy; The Time Has Come; SDP/Liberal Alliance; Joint Commission on Defence and Disarmament; Polaris nuclear submarines; Social and Liberal Democrats

in The uneven path of British Liberalism
Abstract only
Dirty hands and the supreme emergency

cost, capability and industrial capacity have had a significant impact on the choice of systems employed by the British strategic nuclear forces, including ultimately driving the decisions to procure Polaris and Trident, but they have had limited impact on the evolution of the uniquely British understanding of nuclear deterrence. Every nuclear weapon state has come by their nuclear weapons through a different dynamic and has a different understanding of nuclear deterrence theory and nuclear strategy to any other state

in Supreme emergency
Open Access (free)
Thomas Robb

. Nixon’s policies in Vietnam were publicly supported by Heath and, even in the face of stern criticism from other European leaders, Heath remained resolute in his support. Nixon’s détente policies were also publicly supported and US–UK interaction in a number of other areas continued. Intelligence cooperation was a continual feature of the relationship and Heath revitalised US–UK nuclear cooperation. The upgrading of Polaris was a subject that saw continual discussion amongst US–UK policy-makers, and the final decision to upgrade Polaris (in November 1973) confirmed

in A strained partnership?
Abstract only
An insider’s view

I am not an ethicist, but I have given a great deal of thought to the morality of the use of force and, in particular, the concept of nuclear deterrence. I have served in Polaris and Trident ballistic-missile submarines (ship – submersible, ballistic, nuclear or SSBN) on and off since 1986, including command of two Vanguard Class submarines, HMS Vengeance and HMS Vanguard , between 2003 and 2007. I therefore have had ample opportunity, and motivation, to reconcile the full potential of my personal

in Supreme emergency
Keith Mc Loughlin

considerations. As unemployment continued to rise, the discourse on the nuclear deterrent was often framed within more immediate materialist concerns. This was particularly the case in the early 1980s as the debate over whether to proceed with a successor system to the Polaris submarine-based deterrent dominated the discourse on defence. Aside from the usual arguments about the risk of nuclear war, the left situated the issue of the Polaris replacement – Trident – within the context of the economic recession. One example of this was a motion submitted to the National Executive

in The British left and the defence economy
Hardware or software?
Terry Macintyre

force, the so-called MLF. The MLF concept envisaged a surface fleet of ships armed with Polaris nuclear missiles that would be jointly owned, controlled and financed by the subscribers.1 From the outset, however, the MLF proposal provoked different reactions, and not all of them favourable. By 1964, opinion within the American administration had polarised between those, principally in the State Department, who were enthusiastic MLF advocates, and others who were more dubious about the concept.2 Significantly, however, a majority in Congress opposed the MLF. The

in Anglo-German relations during the Labour governments 1964–70
Keith Mc Loughlin

scientific adviser, Solly Zuckerman, of the old saying ‘kill them when they are no bigger than sprats’ before concluding that ‘Defence R&D projects’ had ‘become almost impossible to get rid of when they reach the size of a herring’. 43 The Conservatives’ difficulty in controlling the defence budget was pounced on by Harold Wilson when he was elected as the Labour party's new leader after Gaitskell's untimely death in 1963. One point of attack was the purchase of the American Polaris

in The British left and the defence economy