Not equal partners : Anglo American nuclear relations, 1940-1958

Johnston, Kimberley Gail (2001). Not equal partners : Anglo American nuclear relations, 1940-1958 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Johnston, Kimberley Gail
Thesis Title Not equal partners : Anglo American nuclear relations, 1940-1958
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2001
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Joseph M. Siracusa
Total pages 434
Collection year 2001
Language eng
Subjects L
430107 History - British
780199 Other
430104 History - North American
160607 International Relations
Formatted abstract
Based on recently declassified archival and manuscript materials in both the United States and the United Kingdom, this thesis describes and examines the Anglo- American nuclear relationship between the theoretical proof of the explosive potential of atomic energy in 1940 and the conclusion of the Anglo-American Agreement for Cooperation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defense Purposes in 1958. The respective domestic atomic energy projects and test programs of the two countries are also examined where relevant to provide the context for the diplomatic relationship.

The Anglo-American atomic relationship did not follow the course of relations in other areas. When contact between the two countries was positive, this was not necessarily reflected in American willingness either to conclude new atomic energy agreements or give flexible interpretation to existing ones. The key factor found to influence American decision-making was its perception of the status of American strength. In the Cold War period, strength was a comparative state judged against the Soviet Union. Anglo-American nuclear relations did not become more equal until the United States needed more from Britain than simply the generous allocation of raw material and information on the projects in which Britain was more advanced than the United States.

The Anglo-American wartime atomic partnership produced the atomic bomb, but domestic American legislation (the McMahon Bill) left Britain without the technology. More than a decade of failed attempts at agreement, as well as agreements in atomic energy that did not fulfil their paper promises, ensued before the United States found the necessary impetus to agree to a closer Anglo-American nuclear relationship.

Paradoxically, this development arose after the most inauspicious year in post war Anglo-American relations which began with the Suez crisis in late 1956, where Britain's closest ally thwarted British designs on the Suez canal. It was the Sputnik crisis in 1957, the Russian satellite that shocked America and contributed to the obsession with the 'missile gap', that finally generated the necessary conditions for closer Anglo-American nuclear relations. This Soviet demonstration of the end of American technical superiority caused major reassessment in American thinking and planning. It was clear that Moscow now had the same striking power against Washington as Washington had against Moscow. In future, America's allies were not merely to be cultivated for monetary assistance and promised support in Western defence; or for territory from which the United States could strike the Soviet Union. The United Kingdom was now needed to augment the United States' perceived strategic balance.
Keyword Atomic bomb -- Research -- Great Britain -- History
Atomic bomb -- Research -- United States -- History
Nuclear energy -- Research -- Great Britain -- History
Nuclear energy -- Research -- United States -- History
Great Britain -- Relations -- United States
United States -- Relations -- Great Britain

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 17:42:23 EST