Politics 1950s and 60s

Keep Our Secrets Secret
"Espionage in industry is a growing menace to the prosperity of our country. Never discuss secret work in public places. Keep our secrets secret"
Throughout World War Two posters like these were created by Governments telling civilians not to speak about vital information because spies could be around to steal this information and find weaknesses in the Country's defenses. Unfortunately these posters were created in the late 60s. Throughout the Cold War Countries have spied on each other trying to gather information on each others nuclear technology. Also throughout the Cold War countries have fought over who had better technology. The US made the A-bomb in 1945 the USSR in 1949. In the early 60s both sides had thermonuclear Hydrogen Bombs. Both sides kept on producing more and more sophisticated and deadly technology (like long range bombers which then are replaced with long range rockets). By the mid 60s nuclear submarines were developed which are incredibly hard (virtually impossible) to detect. Its been argued that these weapons were only meant to deter other countries from using theirs. It is believed that both sides won't use their weapons as these can destroy the world, they based this belief on the term MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). As time progresses both sides have created propaganda telling their achievements and excluding their failures (disasters). Even though both sides are competing in who has the bigger bomb they did try to discus disarmament but progress is slow.

This report is made by the British Government, 1954, concerning British bomb tests using some information from American scientists (but the Americans were fearful of Russian spies so they were careful of giving out information even to their British allies)


The explosion of a hydrogen bomb releases energy in three forms - blast, heat and nuclear radiation. Their relative importance depends on the distance of the bomb from the surface at the moment of explosion. Broadly speaking, the effects of blast and heat are comparatively local in all cases, whereas those of radiation may be very widespread.
2. Size of the Bomb -There is no technical limitation to the yield of this weapon. The analysis which follows is related throughout to a 1O-megaton ' bomb (10M.T). The highest yield achieved in the United States experiments to date is 30M.T. The area affected-by a bomb of this yield would be about 45 per cent. greater than in the case we are considering.
3. Blast and Heat - Blast and heat are more intense from an air burst than from a ground burst. - In dull weather damage from the heat wave is somewhat less extensive than in clear air. The blast and heat resulting from the explosion of a 1O-M.T. bomb would cause destruction on about the following scale:

Air Burst 10 M.T at 20,000 feet (Radius in miles)
Ground Burst 10M.T. (Radius in miles)
Surface devastation to ordinary brick houses
Devastation to facilities and tunnels below ground
0.33 mile in radius and depth
Major structural damage to brick houses
Surface damage by fire on ordinary day
4. Radiation - The initial radiation occurring within a few seconds of detonation of a bomb, whether air burst or ground burst, is probably confined within a radius of three or four miles. The area thus affected is therefore in any case devastated by heat and blast.

The residual radiation occurring as an after-effect of the explosion varies very greatly in its effects, according to the point of burst. If the bomb bursts too high for the fire ball to reach ground level, the bulk of the radio-active materials are carried into suspension in the upper atmosphere. They are then so dispersed that they have no serious local effects when they eventually settle out.

But if the bomb bursts at or near the ground, quantities of much heavier radio-active particles are carried for a while by the winds that blow in differing directions at different levels. The pattern of precipitation is irregular, varying with the speed and direction of the air currents in the area, but a high proportion of the fall-out occurs from very high levels where the winds are more constant in direction and speed. This tends to elongate the area of contamination in the direction of the winds there prevailing.
5. Effects of Radiation on Life.- No medical means of curing or even curbing the effects of radiation on human beings are yet known. On human beings the effects are cumulative over a considerable period, becoming lethal when a certain dosage has been absorbed. In the Marshall Islands natives on an atoll 110 miles from the explosion received about one-third of the lethal dose: Americans who remained in huts 150 miles downwind received over a tenth of the lethal dose. Both these groups were 20 miles off the main line of fall-out.
Symptoms of radiation sickness may not show for some days, or even weeks. But about one-fifth of the lethal dose produces temporary sickness, with increasing disability as absorption increases beyond this point.
On animals the direct effects are similar. (In the Marshall Islands all animal life was extinguished on an atoll 110 miles from the explosion.)

In June 1960 the British Cabinet discussed Britain's nuclear capability, they were discussing on allowing the US government to place Polaris submarines (nuclear submarines) in Scotland's waters (in an attempt to protect itself (at this time the British Cabinet was discussing how it would maintain it's nuclear deterrence (Yes! the Brits did have nuclear weapons and contributed to the Western deterrence against the East) since technology was moving way too fast for Britain to keep up (and it was costly, it can be argued that this arms race killed the USSR's economy)) and/or is the US using this to get nuclear subs near Europe to help counter the USSR). The Cabinet believes that the United States is building a deterrence force to counter the USSR's (was this a true intention of the United States?). Of course the British public were skeptical of nuclear weapons and this conflict (hint of isolationism as seen throughout history with the Americans?) so to justify this the project must be a joint venture meaning that the UK must build their own Polaris submarines which was true during the 60s and 70s.

In 1962 the British Foreign Secretary written a document discussing the Western (AKA American) nuclear disarmament plan. A week later both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister were going to the United Nations Disarmament Conference in Geneva. The document pretty much (at least this portion) was discussing the Soviet Disarmament Plan presented to the UN in 1960. It is the opinion of the West that the Soviet plan is unfair for the West (or is it? or is the the West trying to make sure they still have their nuclear advantage (at the time they did!)) that it intended to give the USSR a 'one-sided advantage'. The British Foreign Secretary outlined several differences between the American/Western plan and the Soviet/Eastern plan (remember it is in his (and others) mind that the Soviet plan is unfair):

  1. The Russians want the whole disarmament process completed in four years
  2. The Russians want foreign bases be evacuated and the withdraw of foreign forces from Europe
  3. The Russians want the destruction of nuclear delivery vehicles
  4. The US wants the limitation (cut off) of fissionable material for weapons purposes early while the Russians want that later on
  5. The Russians don't want any checks on remaining stocks or new developed weapons (only a check on the ones meant to be destroyed)
  6. The US wants the development of a effective international peace- keeping machine, and the creation of an effective international peace-keeping force (is this what the US really wants or do they want more of a Western presence in Europe).

The reason why the West viewed this as unfair because it would hurt Western deployment capability due to the removal of Western troops from Europe and 'foreign' bases, the fact that the Russians don't want a check on weapon stocks (which could mean that the Russians may intend to build many missiles while the West is destroying theirs, but then again what is stopping the West from building more and destroying the required ones?)

In 1964 members of the British intelligence services stationed in Moscow (confirmation of actual spying going on by the West, the East also had spies in Britain and the United States. The report stated that Khrushchev made an apparent boast to some Japanese officials that the USSR has created a weapon capable of destroying the planet. When approached with this information he denied the boast stating that he was misunderstood. Even after this denial investigations by foreign intelligence services continued. Some believe that this boast is only partially empty, the Soviet Union did not create any new kind of bomb or weaponry that is deadly but it has created the largest, the 50 megaton bomb. Now it is argued that this bomb can't be deployed effectively because of its size. Their is also a belief that the USSR may have made a new bio weapon but is actually unable to safely disseminate it (Release it without drawback).

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

Poster by the British Ministry of Information made in 1965

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information
Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information
Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information
Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

Part of a Poster by the British Ministry of Information

This poster was created by the British Ministry of Information in 1965 which was meant to express the threat and preparation against an air raid that uses a hydrogen bomb. The government organized Civil Defenses groups that are meant to supply emergency food and medical care to the people of Britain. By this time the H-bomb has been tested but is still a new invention and the there is great public fear of the use of this kind of weapon.

Learning Curve: Politics 50s and 60s
Learning Curve: Politics 50s and 60s: Historical Source One: British government report on the effects of nuclear explosions, 1954
Learning Curve: Politics 50s and 60s: Historical Source Two: Secret British government report advising on the reporting of Britain's nuclear testing programme, 1957 Transcript
Learning Curve: Politics 50s and 60s: Historical Source Three: Extract from discussion in the British Cabinet about Britain's nuclear weapons, particularly the Polaris nuclear missile system, June 1960
Learning Curve: Politics 50s and 60s: Historical Source Four: Part of a report by the British Foreign Secretary on talks about nuclear disarmament in 1962
Learning Curve: Politics 50s and 60s: Historical Source Five: Extracts from a report by Foreign Office officials in Moscow concerning an alleged new kind of nuclear weapon developed by the USSR in 1964
Learning Curve: Politics 50s and 60s: Historical Source Six: A poster produced by the British Government's Ministry of Information in 1965 informing people about H Bombs and Civil Defence