The Wilson Government and British Responses to Anti-Ballistic Missiles, 1964-1970

Kristan Stoddart

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5 Citations (SciVal)


One of the most pressing questions for the new government of Harold Wilson following the Labour Party's slender General Election victory of October 1964, as far as the UK's nuclear deterrent was concerned, was how to shore up the credibility gap that was in evidence with the decline of the effectiveness of the V-bomber force.1 Already in train was the Polaris programme agreed by the Conservative Macmillan government at Nassau in December 1962, in which five submarines were planned.2 However, Polaris was not due to be fully deployed until the first quarter of the 1970s and doubts were already beginning to emerge regarding their perceived effectiveness. This article will ask two main questions: first, why did the development of anti-ballistic missile defences by the Soviet Union threaten the credibility of the UK strategic nuclear deterrent?; and second, what was the UK's response to this development?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalContemporary British History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • Strategic
  • ABMs
  • Polaris
  • Britain
  • nuclear strategy
  • Deterrent


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