UK PONI: Reviewing the 'Special' Nuclear Relationship

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The 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) that provides the foundation for ongoing UK-US nuclear warhead collaboration is due to be reviewed and possibly extended this year. UK PONI will host two former practitioners from either side of the Atlantic to discuss the 1958 MDA and its role in domestic and international nuclear debates.

The UK’s relationship with the US played a vital role in the genesis of nuclear weapons, and continues to influence the form and function of the UK’s nuclear forces to this day. Born out of wartime cooperation in the Manhattan Project, this relationship was formalised through the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) and has evolved into a broad nuclear partnership, encompassing nuclear science, operations, and policy.

The 1958 MDA will be reviewed and possibly extended by both parties this year. As such, the UK Project on Nuclear Issues (UK PONI) hosted two former managers of the 1958 MDA from either side of the Atlantic to conduct its own review into the ‘special’ nuclear relationship and its role in domestic and international nuclear debates. The evening seminar included a two presentations on the past, present, and future UK-US nuclear cooperation, and was be followed by an off-the-record Q&A session and a complimentary drinks reception.

For more information on the 1958 MDA and its role in UK nuclear decision-making, please see the publications to the right.

Speakers included:

Mr Robin Pitman, former head of Nuclear and Strategic Defence within the British Defence Staff in Washington DC and sixteenth head of the Atomic Co-ordinating Office (Washington). Through this position, established by the 1958 MDA, Robin was responsible for UK-US cooperation on nuclear warhead and nuclear propulsion matters under the agreement.

Mr Stephen Henry, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters in Washington DC. Through this position, and previous positions within the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of Energy, Stephen was responsible for a broad array of nuclear matters including safety, security, use control, and life extension. Stephen is currently Director of the Global Security Directorate for Naional Security Technologies LLC; contracted operators of the Nevada National Security Site.

This event was open to UK PONI members only. To register for UK PONI or edit existing details please go to

*Adjusted photo courtesy of Medill DC

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