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Great Britain, the United States, and consultation over use of the atomic bomb, 1950-194

Jones, Matthew (2011) Great Britain, the United States, and consultation over use of the atomic bomb, 1950-194. Historical Journal, 54 (03). pp. 797-828. ISSN 0018-246X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0018246X11000240


The subject of when nuclear weapons might have to be employed by the United States during the early Cold War period was the setting for a prolonged and uneasy dialogue within the Anglo-American relationship. While British governments pressed for a formal agreement that there should be prior consultation before the atomic bomb was ever used, the Americans were determined to retain the freedom to take this crucial decision alone. This article explores the debates that ensued and the tensions that were created by this issue, between the meetings of Attlee and Truman in December 1950 and the Indochina crisis of 1954, and highlights the contrasting geopolitical positions of Britain and the United States as they sought to reconcile their views. For the British, playing host to a clutch of important US airbases, the risk of early nuclear devastation in any outbreak of general war was a paramount consideration. Although impatient with British caution, the Americans recognized an overriding need for allied support in general war giving British views the capacity to exercise a restraining influence.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: International History
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2013 11:17
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2023 02:36

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