Atomic weapons programme - part 2

Return to list

Atomic weapons programme - part 2

P.M.

Invite L.P.S. to express his view on moral issue.

H.C.

What financial commitment is involved?
Is it sensible for U.K., alone in Europe, to do this when we know we shall not wage major war w'out U.S. as Ally. Shd. we not leave U.S. & R. as sole manufrs. : and preserve our right to say no European power shd. make it.

D.S.

Latter argument weakened by fact we are making the less efficient a. weapons.
Al. Have we not a duty to our people to possess best weapons.

RAB.

On cost : cheaper per power developed than a. weapons.

D.S.

About 9/10ths. of effort is required for going on with a. weapons.
Much flexibility retained as betwn H. & A. bombs. Can convert A. into H. bombs.

H.M.

Shock to be told, casually, tht. we were going to do this. A no of us feel like that.

P.M.

Must take a decision in principle. Not necessarily to-day.
Doesn't depend on technical detail.
Mainly a moral ques. cf. Soper's statements as reported in Press to-day : D. Worker.
I advise in favour of manufacture - but don't minimise moral issue.

A.E.

Thought moral issue was decided by Labour Govt., when made a bomb. No difference in principle.
Possession of a. weapons is now measure of power & influence in world.
Believe tht. as its deterrent power is realised this may well make war less likely.

M.F.

Agree with A.E.
i) Deterrent. We must make our contn. to that. More likely to prevent war than bring it on.
ii) Anxiety lest U.S. shd. start a war - out of China or to forestall. Our best chance of restraining them is to retain their respect. More likely to do so, if we play our part in deterrent influence.

Sim.

Morally, can't distinguish betwn a. & h. bombs.
We are ready to accept protn. of U.S. possession of these bombs.
If so, can't be wrong to make them ourselves.

W.M.

Agree with Sim.

Sw.

Favour going fwd.

R.A.B. J.S. Ll.G. agreed.

O.L.

Agree. Even in smaller wars, total reliance on U.S. won't enable us to conduct independent f. policy.

F.H.

Agree with Sim.
Was worried by spread of this into Europe, incldg. Germany.
But don't dissent from decision to make this.

H.C.

Wd. wish to reflect a little longer.

H.M.

So would I.

P.M.

Then we can bring it up in a week or so.

H.M.

Cd. we have some guidance on our public line. We can't hope to keep it secret for ever.

P.M.

Resume at convenient day before end of July. Prelimy. work to go fwd. m'while.

F.H.

Abolition agreement - more easy if we were, or were not, making it.

A.E.

Probably easier if we did make it.

Taken from C. 48(54) - Meeting held on 8 July 1954.