The United Kingdom was the first country to undertake atomic energy research and development for military purposes. In April 1940 the British government commissioned a group of scientists to study the possibilities of manufacturing a ‘uranium bomb’ in wartime.

Originally published in 1984, this book traces the development of British nuclear weapons from those early times to the present. It examines the decisions of Atlee and the MacMillan governments in sustaining the nuclear deterrent through the hydrogen bomb and the Polaris programme, and discusses in detail the decision to proceed with Trident. Throughout the narrative is set against the background of British domestic politics and Anglo-American relations.

The book demonstrates why for nearly forty years British governments remained committed to an independent nuclear deterrent as the last line of defence should NATO fail.

List of Figures and Tables.  Preface.  Acknowledgements.  1. The Technical Legacy  2. The Political Question  3. The American Connection  4. The Doctrinal Considerations  5. The Trident Decision  6. Costs and Consequences  7. The Independent Deterrent and the Atlantic Alliance.  Select Bibliography.  Index.