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The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been developed by American and British scientists working together, but soon after the Second World War, Britain found itself out of the loop with the US no longer willing to collaborate. The Soviet Union tested their own nuclear weapon in 1949. And the United States was on its way to testing the first H- bomb, 1000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Britain was desperate to enter the arms race. And by 1952 it succeeded with Operation Hurricane, becoming the third nuclear power in the world.
But why? Why did Britain want nuclear weapons when already part of NATO and close allies with the US? And why do they still have them today?
Check out V-bomber items in the IWM Duxford Shop:
Photo of William Penney, Otto Frisch, Rudolf Peierls and John Cockcroft © Los Alamos National Laboratory
Nuclear radiation sign on the Montebello Islands © Brian Gordon Bush via Research Gate
Ted Rollo on Trimouille Island reading the radiation level at ship debris via xnatmap.org
Explosion of the first Soviet nuclear bomb. (Photo: U.S. Department of Energy
CND marches from the 1960s © cnduk.org