2015 年 2013 巻 174 号 p. 174_153-174_166
This article answers the question of whether the Harold Wilson government actually intended to maintain the British “independent” nuclear deterrent in the Atlantic Nuclear Force (ANF) concept. During analysis, three main factors—Wilson, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence—were observed.
Wilson had found no military value to the British “independent” nuclear deterrent because he considered a solitary British nuclear war against the Soviet Union as unreal. Thus, he decided to propose the nuclear force concept which abandoned “independence”. In addition, he intended to not only prevent the Multilateral Nuclear Force (MLF) concept proposed by the US government but also rebuild NATO’s nuclear defence posture. The Draft Working Party, which consisted of bureaucrats from the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence was formed on Wilson’s directions, and the ANF draft was drawn up.
In the beginning, the opinion that it was essential to abandon “independence” was dominant in the Party in order to allow allied countries to accept the proposal. However the Ministry of Defence claimed that maintenance of “independence” is indispensable because it is the last resort for ensuring national security and interests. To maintain minimum “independence”, they devised various plans and worked with other government agencies, and insisted that the British “independent” nuclear deterrent should be deployed in the East of Suez to provide with a nuclear guarantee British Asian allies or friendly nations which came to bear a threat to nuclear armed China. Gradually, this insistence was accepted by the government.
Therefore, the Wilson government decided to propose the ANF concept by committing a part of its strategic nuclear forces unconditionally to the ANF for employing a western nuclear deterrent within NATO’s framework, but retaining the rest under national control, in order to deploy to the East of Suez. Since minimum “independence” was maintained in the East of Suez, the Ministry of Defence finally accepted the concept. However, Wilson intended to abandon “independence” in the future to employ the British nuclear deterrent within an alliance in the East of Suez.
The Harold Wilson government had actually intended to abandon the British “independent” nuclear deterrent in the ANF concept. Wilson had aimed at gaining not only the solution of NATO’s nuclear issue advantageous to Britain, but also the maintenance of her defence role in the East of Suez.
Although the ANF concept was proposed seriously, it was given up because of many complications. Thus, the Wilson government followed the policy of the Conservative government by maintaining the British “independent” nuclear deterrent.