The Politics of the Blue Streak Programme

Ian Clark

in Nuclear Diplomacy and the Special Relationship

Published in print April 1994 | ISBN: 9780198273707
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191684067 | DOI:

Series: Nuclear History Program

The Politics of the Blue Streak Programme

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Amongst the many intriguing questions which remain about the eventual fate of Blue Streak, two in particular stand out. The first is concerned with the reasons for the British Government's decision and whether the programme was cancelled for strategic, technical, or financial considerations. A definitive answer is offered in what follows. The second relates to the role of the United States in this episode and the extent to which the United States encouraged the abandonment by Britain of its own IRBM delivery capability. Posed in these terms, there is some surface similarity between the crisis over Blue Streak in early 1960 and the subsequent crisis over Skybolt in late 1962. This chapter shows that there were important sections of US officialdom who openly contrived to persuade Britain to give up on Blue Streak, and who were disposed to employ financial leverage towards this end. However, unhappily for any conspiracy theory which would like to present American policy as consistently striving to eliminate the British nuclear deterrent throughout this entire period, there are insurmountable problems with such a universalized interpretation.

Keywords: conspiracy theory; technical considerations; Skybolt; financial leverage; strategic considerations; Blue Streak

Chapter.  12364 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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