chapter  12
51 Pages

The revival of the Anglo-American nuclear relationship, and the approach of SALT, January–October 1969

ByMatthew Jones

The Czech crisis of August 1968, followed as it was by continued discussion within Johnson administration of the possibilities for strategic arms control with the Soviet Union within a bilateral framework, had emphasised for many Western European observers the need for new efforts to strengthen transatlantic relations. While the arrival of Nixon and Kissinger at the White House in 1969 seemed to indicate that agreement over the provision of US information and support for a Polaris improvement programme might be easier to reach. Under the previous administration, the political environment at home, in the view of MoD officials, seemed no more conducive to ministerial approval for a further phase of work at AWRE. During the first half of 1969, as the point in summer began to approach when formal responsibility for strategic nuclear deterrent role was to pass to the Royal Navy from RAF, naval apprehensions grew over ability of its new Polaris force to penetrate Soviet ABM defences.