BRITAIN’S NUCLEAR BOMB: The Inside Story 3rd May, BBC Four
In 1957, Britain exploded its first megaton hydrogen bomb – codenamed Operation Grapple X. It was the culmination of an extraordinary scientific project, which against almost insuperable odds turned Britain into a nuclear superpower. This is the inside story of how Britain got ‘the bomb’.
The BBC has been granted unprecedented access to the top-secret nuclear research facility at Aldermaston. The programme features interviews with veterans and scientists who took part in the atomic bomb programme, some speaking for the first time, and newly released footage of the British atomic bomb tests.
On 4th May, Bruce Kent, Vice President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament wrote to the Radio Times (see 13-19th issue, p158):
The Inside Story? Actually only an inside story.
Too much was left out, especially morality and law, to make it anything more
No mention of Joseph Rotblat, the one scientist who refused to continue work on the bomb once he knew how it was to be used.
The bombs caused the Japanese surrender? No: As General Eisenhower said later ‘It was not necessary to hit them with that awful thing’
It is actually possible that US determination to use the bombs delayed the surrender. Prior to August 1945 the Japanese leadership were asking, via the Soviets, only for immunity for the Emperor.
Unconditional surrender was the Allied response. So the war continued.
But General MacArthur gave just that immunity once the bombs had been dropped.
As things now are we British have an ‘independent’ nuclear weapon which we can’t use unless the US lends us the missiles.