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International Affairs and ‘the nuclear age’, 1946–2013


  • This article has been written at the invitation of Caroline Soper, Editor of International Affairs. My thanks go to Robert Ayson, Ian Hall and John Simpson for interesting and helpful comments on a draft.


The article reflects on the distinguished record of publication, in around 130 articles over nearly seventy years, on nuclear politics in International Affairs. Although constituting a small drop in the torrent of writings on nuclear matters since 1945, it can fairly be regarded as the most significant contribution to nuclear discourse by any journal outside the United States. The articles published in International Affairs have covered a wide range of issues including nuclear deterrence and strategy, arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, and the policies—and drivers of policy—of countries, in particular the UK and US. Authors have included P. M. S. Blackett, Wyn Bowen, Alastair Buchan, Hedley Bull, Pierre Hassner, Michael Howard, Rebecca Johnson, Michael MccGwire, Michael Quinlan, Nick Ritchie, John Simpson and David Yost. The discussion concludes with Ian Smart's article of 1975 in which he contemplates the nature of the ‘nuclear age’ and its persistence or passing, and comments on governments’ ‘fatuous’ attachment of prestige value to nuclear weapons.