British Prime Minister Clement Attlee tasked government officials with looking into other world countries’ nuclear capabilities after World War 2 concluded in 1945. The devastation caused when the US detonated nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan, were said to have been equal to that of “1,000 bombers dropping normal bombs”. In later reports, Mr Attlee confessed his concerns over World War 3 breaking out and that the UK was ill-equipped to deal with a future threat.
Sir Henry Tizard’s report into the ‘Future Development in Weapons and Methods of War’ concluded that the use of atomic energy was “in its very infancy” in a chilling warning in 1945.
They analysed the likelihood of different world nations being able to develop nuclear weapons of their own, in documents recently released by the National Archives.
He concluded that the USSR was the biggest concern, as it would take “several hundred bombs” to collapse the nation – compared to between “30 and 120 bombs” for the UK.
It argued that the US and UK would need to collaborate on missile strikes if war with the USSR broke out.
The US, then under President Harry Truman, was believed to have produced between 50 and 60 bombs – the most of any country.
Within three years they expected that number could treble and stated, by comparison, that the UK could develop 60 over the next five years.
In a memorandum to President Truman, Mr Attlee confessed his fears about the advancement of warfare.
He wrote: “Duelling with swords and inefficient pistols was bearable. Duelling had to go with the advent of weapons of precision.
“What is to be done about the atomic bomb? It has been suggested that by a Geneva Convention all nations might agree to abstain from this.”
Mr Attlee considered the discussion about nuclear weapons as a “vital matter”.
He wrote: “The vulnerability of the heart of the Empire is the one fact that matters. Unless its safety can be secured, it is no use bothering about things on the periphery.
“It is difficult for people to adjust their minds to an entirely new situation.
“It is infinitely harder for people to realise that even the modern conception of war, to which in my lifetime we have become accustomed, is now completely out of date.”