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Britain Gets Jitters Over Hydrogen Bomb

LONDN (AP)- Britain broke out today in a rash of hydrogen bomb jitters.

Reports of the awesome and unexpected fury of American's hydrogen bomb test explosion in the Pacific March 1 prompted fresh demands in Parliament and the press for all-out diplomatic efforts to banish the threat of atomic war.

The Laborite London Daily Herald, in a rare front page editorial, demanded that the United States call off any more hydrogen bomb tests before it turns the Pacific into a "source of peril."

It called on the British government to take the initiative in seeking international consultation "on all the problems involved for mankind in possession of the bomb."

The influential liberal Manchester Guardian also warned of the possible "most serious" consequences of further hydrogen bomb tests.

Newspapers used "scare" headlines over President Eisenhower's news conference statement yesterday that something must have happened at the March 1 explosion that surprised and astonished scientists.

In Parliament, Laborites have renewed their demands for some sort of fresh approach to Russia. A few Conservatives also have asked questions along these lines.

Lord Salisbury, Britain's atomic chief, told the House of Lords last night the "hideous reality" of the hydrogen bomb makes necessary a live-and-let-live understanding between Russia and the West. He warned that no one could win an atomic war.

Other peers expressed similar fears. Lord Henderson, Laborite, proposed an "all-in" Europe security treaty which would recognize the continued existence of both he East's defense arrangements and the West's NATO alliance. Lord Salisbury said the government would be ready to study the idea.

Prime Minister Churchill told the House of Commons last Monday he had not abandoned his 10-months-old suggestion for an informal meeting between the heads of major powers, including Russia, to ease world tension. He said "increasing good will in the world" may avert war but he warned at the same time of the stupendous problems and perils comprised in the sphere of a atomic and hydrogen developments."

Many papers carried roundups of latest atomic and hydrogen bomb developments throughout the world. Maps and diagrams spelled out for average Britons just how a single hydrogen bomb could obliterate or devastate much of their island homeland.

The science editor of London's liberal News Chronicle said the extended risk area now announced for future American H-Bomb tests in the Pacific would cover territory equal to all the British Isles, half of France, all of Holland and Belgium, and Germany as far west as Frankfurt.

He added that "no means of controlling the hydrogen reaction can be foreseen."

The News Chronicle warned editorially that fear and despair over the hydrogen bomb may develop into a helpless apathy which might make atomic warfare "not only possible but inevitable." The newspaper referred to President Eisenhower's invitation to Russia to join in pooling atomic energy for peaceful uses but said "the time has now come to have done with the oblique and to go directly once again for the goal."

The Daily Herald quoted an unnamed British atom scientist as saying it is theoretically possible to make a hydrogen bomb that would disperse sufficient radioactivity to kill all humanity. He added, however, that the bomb's immense size would make it impractical "in any foreseeable future."

"But in my scientist's view," he was quoted at saying, "the Americans have now reached the stage at which they should remove their experiments far from any land or any shipping routes."

The Communist Daily Worker, blared "H-blast got out of control." Alongside it quoted the demand of a Communist candidate in a Parliamentary bi-election: "Abolish every A-bomb."

Lord Beaverbrook's pro-empire Daily Express front-paged the first of a day-by-day roundup report on "this stupendous problem- the H-bomb."

Dr. Donald Soper, president of Britain's Methodist Conference who frequently espouses left wing causes, issued a press statement calling on Christians everywhere to petition their governments to ban or abolish atomic and hydrogen bombs. He said, "I believe we are approaching in this atomic experiment a point of no return."

Much of Britain's "atomic uneasiness" follows last January's speech by U. S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announcing America's policy of instant and massive retaliation against aggression. Churchill himself sought to ease these fears by assuring the House of Commons that the United States would consult Britain before launching any atomic counter-attack from bases in Britain.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Americans in the 1950s still relied heavily on local newspapers for international news. This detailed account of the British reaction to American atomic testing in 1954 shows a growing rift between American policy and British public opinion. The first hydrogen bomb, far more powerful than the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima to end World War 2, was tested by the United States in the Pacific Ocean on November 1, 1952. British leaders across the political spectrum express concern about the American testing of powerful hydrogen weapons in the Pacific. The "British Jitters" were intensified by statements by the American Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, who in January of 1954 had warned of "massive retaliation" by the United States in response to a Russian conventional attack.


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"Britain Gets Jitters Over Hydrogren Bomb" article in Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder-Gazette
date   Mar 25, 1954
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   17.5"
width   2.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L07.019

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See Also...

"800 Troops See Dummy 'A-Bomb' At Fort Devens" article in Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"Say Russian Atomic Particles Falling On Japan" article in the Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"Any Cowboys, Gran'pa?" cartoon on H-bomb in Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

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