Roy Dommett: Chevaline and the morality of nuclear weapons

Roy Dommett discusses Chevaline and the morality of nuclear weapons.

It was a stressing job which stretched us, me and most of the team, to the limits. And we were using all the facilities, test facilities and industrial capability, in the country that was required. I don’t think the UK could’ve done a more stressing project in the missile field than that. I’m Roy Dommett and I worked on rockets at the RAE from 1953 around to the year 2000. The idea behind Chevaline use: we had a very small submarine force with therefore a limited number of missiles, and the problem then was that we either – we were very limited in what threat we could provide. And we had to persuade not only the Soviets in some ways both the Americans and the Treasury, that in fact we could achieve something like attacking Moscow when our minimum force and be able to attack a larger number of Soviet cities when in fact the whole force was available. It’s a most interesting question about why was I interested in working on nuclear weapons. Well the fact of course I wasn’t, to start with. If I say one of – things that all struck the Security Officer as how many of the team were actually convicted Christians who wore a cross on the lapel badge and so on, you know. And he always used to come round each year and say, ‘How can these people work on nuclear weapons?’ And you had to say, ‘Well we’re not believers in using nuclear weapons, we’re actually believers in not using nuclear weapons and it is a deterrent,’ you know, ‘we all hope that the Prime Minister, when the day comes, when the Russians drop nuclear weapons across British cities, he’ll sit there and say that’s enough, we won't use our deterrent, ‘cause it’s failed, what’s the point of more destruction.’ And of course the policies worked. We have not actually used a British nuclear weapon.

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