Tag Archives: the national archives

Britain, America, Nuclear Non-proliferation, and the Indian Jaguar Deal, 1974-1978

12 Dec

I’m delighted to say that my first published article has now appeared in the august journal, Cold War History. It’s examines a little known nuclear non-proliferation dispute between the UK and US, over Britain’s attempts to sell what were seen as “nuclear capable” Jaguar strike aircraft to the recently nuclearised India.

If you’re quick (and if you don’t have institutional access to CWH), you can download the article for free here.

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Special Forces Co-operation as a Nuclear Non-proliferation Measure?

26 May

In my continued attempt to make use of those snippets from the archives that didn’t make it into the finished thesis, here’s something you might not think about as a non-proliferation measure: the Special Air Service (SAS).

Previously, I’ve talked about angry letters from A. Q. Khan and the intersections between Barry Goldwater, the military-industrial complex, and the Ford administration. This time, it’s back to the UK and a non-proliferation ‘bribe’ that never went anywhere other than the Foreign Office filing cabinet marked ‘Daft Ideas.’

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A.Q. Khan, ‘Death of A Princess,’ and Angry Letters

16 Apr

Some things that you find in archives are just downright odd. One curious find that, in the end, did not make it into my thesis was a rambling letter in tiny script that I found in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office records at The National Archives, Kew. This letter was written by none other than Abdul Qadeer ‘A.Q.’ Khan, probably the most famous nuclear proliferator of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

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Thatcher, Begin, and the “Islamic Bomb”

29 Aug

As part of the research process, you often find interesting little snippets that, while not hugely significant themselves, form part of something bigger. On May 17, 1979, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wrote a short letter to newly installed British leader Margaret Thatcher. His letter formed part of a wider popular outburst centred around the idea of an “Islamic bomb.” Although the idea of an “Islamic bomb” – an imagined nuclear weapon that transcends state boundaries and spans a transnational religious community – had come up in previous years, it was only in 1979 that the issue really burst into the consciousness of policymakers and the public.

The concept was founded in the rhetoric surrounding the Pakistani nuclear weapons programme. Indeed, it was the two markedly different Pakistani leaders Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mohammed Zia ul-Haq who gave birth to the idea. But it was the Western (and to a lesser extent, Indian) media that really gave life to the notion that one Muslim state would automatically share the fruits of its nuclear labours with other Muslim states.

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Interesting Nuclear History Reads

8 Feb

For want of something substantive to say (I’m currently mired in the documents I harvested from The National Archives last month), I though it might be useful to highlight some recent scholarship in the field of nuclear history. Rather than give substantive reviews of these works (although I am working on a full review of Nuclear Apartheid) I’ll offer brief comments, plus links to reviews as appropriate.

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It’s The Fault of Bond. James Bond

16 Jan

Oops! Bit of a gap between posts, going against my determination to put up something constructive each week. Excuse? Well, I was down at The National Archives doing research for my thesis. Some interesting stuff came out of that, but there is still a mountain of documentation to assess. Anyway, enough of that…

This story on the BBC (and elsewhere throughout the intersphere) gave me cause for a wry smile. The gist of it is that Professor David Philips (head of the Royal Society of Chemistry) asserts that a huge part of the problem with nuclear energy is the negative associations created by the villains from James Bond films, such as the eponymous Dr Julius No, who had his own personal reactor.

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HOTCUS Conference 2012

21 Dec

The other day I received notification from the organising committee of the 2012 Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) conference that my paper proposal had been accepted. My intention is to discuss US-UK motivations towards the Pakistani nuclear issue in 1978-79, looking a how ideas of democracy, civilisation, and religion influenced their stances alongside the more traditional geopolitical and Realist conceptions of international relations. Here’s the abstract:

During 1978 and into 1979 it became apparent to Western observers that Pakistan was engaging in covert efforts to produce the raw material for nuclear weapons. In light of this, the United States and United Kingdom jointly engaged in diplomatic strategies aimed at curbing the emergent Pakistani nuclear programme. Using recently declassified and previously unseen sources from both sides of the Atlantic, this paper argues that US-UK cooperation in the (ultimately fruitless) attempt to prevent Pakistani development of nuclear weapons capability was far closer and more involved than traditionally suggested.

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