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Thinking About Nuclear WeaponsPrinciples, Problems, Prospects$
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Michael Quinlan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563944

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563944.001.0001

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United Kingdom Doctrine and Policy

United Kingdom Doctrine and Policy

(p.115) 10 United Kingdom Doctrine and Policy
Thinking About Nuclear Weapons

Michael Quinlan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter recalls the evolution of plans for UK nuclear-weapon capability from complete independence in the decade after World War II through the shift to US/UK cooperation, with reliance upon the United States in some key aspects of materiel procurement. It explains the thinking behind the concept of ‘second-centre’ decision-making and operational independence, the latter contrasted with the wider (and much more expensive) form of independence espoused by France. It notes the strength of anti-nuclear campaigning in Britain, and explains the UK approach to such issues as targeting and deterrent adequacy. It reviews changes made since the end of the Cold War, and surveys the 2006–7 decision to envisage a new-generation force to last beyond the early 2020s. It notes that key commitments on implementing this have yet to be made, and suggests that there remains scope for revisiting both the principle and the detail of the capability renewal decision.

Keywords:   anti-nuclear, capability renewal, independence, second-centre, targeting, US/UK cooperation

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