Assess the Reasons why there was a Continuing Debate About Nuclear Weapons in the Period 1945 to 1990.

ESSAY. Mark Given: 43/50 Grade: A - only just.

Comments of Improvement from Teacher:

Correct to query the level of analysis. Bolder statements will gain credit - especially in the conclusion where you must try to end on a more dynamic tone. Need to be more assertive with my analysis and evaluation of relative importance of the reasons. Use the term 'significance' and 'ASSESS!'

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Preview of Assess the Reasons why there was a Continuing Debate About Nuclear Weapons in the Period 1945 to 1990.

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Assess the Reasons Why There Was a Continuing Debate
About Nuclear Weapons in Britain in the Period 1945-
Britain's reasoning behind the independent building and maintaining of nuclear weapons in the
Period 1945-1990 was varied. The most influential of reasons was the British desire to have an
independent nuclear weapons policy to avoid dependence upon the USA, ( a lesson of Suez was
the need to retain an independent nuclear capability to allow Britain influence over US policy
formulation), and to reassert Britain's status as a world power, with a forcible position in the
nuclear arms race. This can be seen when in October 1946, after the US ends nuclear co-
operation, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin argued in favor of a British bomb declaring: "We have
got to have this thing over here whatever it costs... and we have got to have a bloody Union
Jack on top of it", and by British nuclear strategy - decisions to build the atomic and hydrogen
bombs. Britain also valued the power of ownership of nuclear weapons as a means of deterrent
and protection, especially during the development of the Cold War and the fear generated by
the fact that Britain was within range of Soviet Union bombers. However the development of
British Nuclear capability did cause continued debate due to various forms of opposition
concerning the nuclear issue in Britain. The ownership of nuclear weapons as a deterrent was
counteracted by the fear of MAD, pressure groups such as the CND and popular reaction
through issues such as Greenham Common saw campaigns for nuclear disarmament, a policy of
détente wanted by some would follow a policy of limitation of nuclear arms but most crucially,
with cost a vital factor in British policy, the escalating economic strain of the nuclear policy
went against both the needs to control defence spending in the period 1964-79 and the
attitudes of the Labour party during the 1980's.
The McMahon Act of 1946, denied Britain continuation of nuclear research and development
with the US. However Britain decided to retain 'a seat at the top table' and unilaterally develop
a British nuclear capability, so in 1952 GB exploded it's first A-Bomb, delivered by V-Bombers
from the air. However this was closely followed, merely a year later by the USA detonating the
next generation of nuclear weapons, the H-Bomb, with the USSR also having built a H-Bomb.
Britain had once again been left behind in the arms race by the superpowers and in fact it
wasn't until 1957 that Britain exploded it's first H bomb. This difficulty to keep up lead to
concerns about links with the US in accordance with defence and nuclear policy. The desire to
avoid dependence upon the USA, with Harold Wilson in 1964 insisting that unless Britain
remained a world power it would be 'nothing', was balanced with the importance of US
alliances. Britain had minimal control and influence over the US and use of weapons and was

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US, especially for delivery systems such as when in 1960 the increasing costs and
pace of the USA and USSR progress led to the cancellation of the Blue Streak missile with little
influence. Further evidence is the issue of Polaris in 1961, a submarine launched missile.…read more

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British commitment to NATO. The cost of
nuclear policy had been escalating, and among some Labour MP's in particular opposition was
created, as defence policy was seen to have taken funds from elsewhere.…read more


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