A timeline of Britain's nuclear history

scallamander's version from 2016-09-21 23:25


Question Answer
August 1945Prime Minister Clement Attlee sets up a top secret Cabinet committee to examine the feasibility of Britain acquiring the atomic bomb.
October 1946After US ends nuclear co-operation, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin swings the argument in favour of a British bomb declaring: "We have got to have this thing over here whatever it costs... we have got to have [a] bloody Union Jack on top of it."
October 1952Britain becomes the third nation, after the United States and the Soviet Union, to carry out a test of a nuclear weapon. A bomb of about 25 kilotons is detonated off the coast of the Monte Bello Islands, near Australia.
November 1953Britain's first atomic weapon - the free fall Blue Danube bomb - deployed with the RAF's V-bomber fleet.
May 1957The first British hydrogen bomb is detonated at high altitude over the sea close to Malden Island, in the Pacific near Papua New Guinea.
July 1958The US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement is signed allowing the two countries to share nuclear weapons technology and materials.


Question Answer
November 1968The UK ratifies the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which commits signatories to pursuing total nuclear disarmament. Earlier that year, the submarine HMS Resolution goes on patrol for the first time armed with Polaris missiles.
July 1980Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher agrees to acquire Trident from the United States as a replacement for Polaris.
December 1994HMS Vanguard becomes the first Trident submarine to go out on patrol.
April 1998Britain ratifies the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, banning test explosions of all nuclear weapons. Later that year, the Strategic Defence Review withdraws the WE177 free fall nuclear bomb from service and cuts the stockpile of Trident warheads to fewer than 200.
March 2007MPs vote to support the Labour Government’s decision to renew Trident.
May 2011The go-ahead is given for initial work to begin on the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapon system - costing £3bn. This is known as the "Initial Gate".
July 2016Trident's "Main Gate" decision due to be taken, finalising the renewal process. This would mean the first submarine could be delivered by 2028.