Trust in the UK-US nuclear relationship: the Trident purchase 1978-1982

Daniel Salisbury (KCL)




The United Kingdom and the United States are well established nuclear partners. Cooperation between the two states goes back to the early days of the Manhattan Project. Trust is obviously crucial in determining the operation of this relationship, both on a day-to-day basis and at pivotal moments. This paper will seek to present an understanding of the role of trust in the Anglo-American nuclear relationship. It will do so by looking at recently declassified documents relating to the British government’s decision to purchase Trident in the early 1980s.

What were the major concerns of the UK regarding the deal at the time? What can these concerns tell us about the long-standing nuclear relationship between the two countries? What can we learn about trust from these concerns? This proposed paper will seek to answer these and more questions using a wealth of primary source material. It will seek to provide an insight into trust at a variety of different levels; between individuals, governments and ultimately between states.

Mr. Daniel Salisbury

Daniel Salisbury is a Research Assistant in the Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) within the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He is currently working on a British government-funded project on Proliferation Procurement and Anti-Proliferation in the Private Sector. The project seeks to build partnerships between government and the private sector to mitigate proliferation risks. Prior to this, Daniel worked as a Research Assistant on the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London. Here his work focused on North Korean security challenges and nuclear security outreach in China. He has also previously worked as a Research Intern at the IISS, at the Arms Control Association and within the British political system.

He is also currently working on his PhD which focuses on the UK’s retention of nuclear weapons since the end of the cold war. He was awarded an MA with Distinction in Science and Security in September 2011 and holds a First Class BA (Hons) in War Studies, both from King’s. Daniel is a member of IISS; the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) organised by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); and Chatham House. He became an Associate of King’s College in 2010