Nuclear Papers

BookNuclear Papers

Nuclear Papers


October 29th, 2009




This timely book, published in advance of 2010’s inter-governmental Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, makes available for the first time newly declassified government correspondence from David Owen’s tenure as Foreign Secretary. Nuclear Papers gives new insight into the work of, and response to, the last major strategic nuclear study of the UK’s nuclear needs, which was undertaken in 1978. The book demonstrates sustained dialogue between the Callaghan and Carter administrations on the one hand but also the internal disputes and concerns of the UK government as the Cold War and a bleak economic outlook exerted equal pressures, in much the same way as recent foreign policy and the economic downturn have challenged the current government. Owen skilfully ties the events of 30 years ago to the present, highlighting Barack Obama’s determination to “show the world that America believes in its existing commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to work ultimately to eliminate all nuclear arms”. As ever, David Owen is at the forefront of debate, arguing convincingly that momentum should be established towards the elimination of nuclear weapons by all five of the existing declared nuclear weapon states before the 2010 NPT Review Conference gets underway. This book, then, is an attempt to rejuvenate and expand discussions of the future of the world’s nuclear weapons by exploring the classified and highly sensitive debates of the past. It will be required reading for anyone interested in UK and US nuclear policy.

• An explosive mixture of Owen’s recently declassified papers relating to the UK’s last review of nuclear weapons policy and a forceful polemic on the past, present and future of government nuclear policy. • A fascinating insight into the culture of secrecy in the upper echelons of government. Owen’s papers show how ministers, including the Chancellor, were deliberately cut out of discussions. • Published in advance of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons .

As UK foreign secretary from 1977 to 1979, Owen was deeply involved in the last major strategic study of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent in 1978. In this volume he presents newly declassified government papers from that period and calls for nuclear abolition before the 2010 NPT Review Conference.


Author Information

Lord David Owen was a Member of Parliament for 26 years, serving as Navy Minister, Health Minister and Foreign Secretary. From 1992-95 Owen served as EU peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia working alongside the UN appointed peace negotiator, Cyrus Vance. Together they co-authored the Vance-Owen Peace Plan.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Dramatis Personae
Terminology and Acronyms
Editorial Note
List of Documents
Introduction: The Need for an Open and Informed Debate on Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent
1. The Nuclear Deterrent
2. Nuclear Weapons Policy
3. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
4. Enhanced Radiation Weapons
5. The Future