chapter  11
8 Pages

Conclusions: Britain and Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Arms Control and Disarmament

Britain’s own military and civil nuclear programmes provided a test bed for development of approaches to fissile material cut-off as well as the emergence of safeguards for the civil nuclear industry to ensure that material was not diverted for explosive devices. Knowledge of the types of facilities required and those aspects of their design and operation that could compromise classified defence information if divulged to inspectors gave the UK a head start in working out verification requirements. Almost from the start of the nuclear programmes in the UK, when the key fuel cycle facilities had been only running for a few years, we see practical verification exercises run to inform policy and technical approaches to the problems. Further work was done in the mid and late 1960s too as the UK contributed to the development of the IAEA safeguards system for the NPT; and this is one area where there is an untapped source of primary material in The National Archives that deserves further study for those wishing to delve deeper into UK policies.4 We saw comparable work in seismology as UK efforts to support the development of an effective verification regime for a CTBT. Pragmatic fieldwork on verification technologies and procedures would be a hallmark of UK approaches to arms control verification again in the 1980s and 1990s during work for the future Chemical Weapons Convention as well as the attempts to develop a verification protocol for the BTWC.5 Precedents set in early work in the 1950s and 1960s underline a strong empirical trait in British approaches to the problems of arms control and effective verification.