A foregone conclusion? The United States, Britain and the Trident D5 agreement

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Existing studies of the United Kingdom’s purchase of Trident D5 missiles have simplified the Reagan administration’s sale. Using previously classified documentation, this article highlights the potential political and financial ramifications of a sale agreement, which led to complex deliberations within the Thatcher government up until the final day of negotiations. The White House viewed the sale as a means to strengthen Western nuclear and conventional forces to counter the perceived Soviet threat. However, even within this conducive environment, US officials still drove a hard bargain with their British counterparts, in order to support US strategic interests. Indeed, the White House utilised the sale to influence British defence policy. In this way, the Trident agreement was not a foregone conclusion but rather a continuation of the friendly, but not preordained, nature of US-UK nuclear relations, that has been renegotiated, according to the varying interests of both parties, throughout its existence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-894
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Strategic Studies
Issue number6
Early online date22 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Thatcher
  • Reagan
  • Anglo-American
  • NATO

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