The British Labour Government and the Development of Chevaline, 1974-1979

Kristan Stoddart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)


Between 1974 and 1979 the Labour Government, led first by Harold Wilson and then by James Callaghan, developed a programme of improvements to the British Polaris nuclear deterrent initiated during Wilson’s first government between 1964 and 1970. This Polaris improvement programme was known from 1974 onwards as Chevaline. Chevaline offered an indigenously arrived at solution aimed at maintaining the strategic nuclear targeting preferences of the British government through the ‘Moscow Criterion’. This came during a time of economic austerity in a changing strategic environment, leading Labour to explore nuclear cooperation with the French. It also led to calls from within the party to renounce nuclear weapons through unilateral disarmament. This article will shed fresh light on the bitter internal debates that ensued and how a select band of senior ministers responded to this dilemma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-314
Number of pages28
JournalCold War History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2010


  • Britain
  • Nuclear
  • Chevaline


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