This extract dates from June 1960. It is a summary of
the points made by the Defence Minister to the Cabinet. The main point being
discussed is the use of Scottish bases by US Polaris submarines carrying nuclear
At the time of the discussion there was a lot of debate
about how Britain was going to keep its nuclear deterrent.
One of the key problems was that technology moved forward
so quickly. Only the USA and USSR seemed able to afford to keep updating their
weapons. We know now that the USSR could not really afford to do this.
Britain's early nuclear deterrent was the Blue Steel
nuclear bomb which was designed to be dropped by Vulcan and Victor bombers.
By the end of the 1950s Britain was developing the Blue
Streak nuclear missile to replace the nuclear bombers. There was much debate
in 1960 about using the American Skybolt missile.
In the end, Britain opted for submarine based nuclear
missiles as the most powerful and cost effective form of nuclear weapons.
Britain provided bases for US Polaris submarines in the 1960s and 1970s, as
well as building its own Polaris submarines.
These were replaced in the 1980s by the Trident nuclear