France's first nuclear tests in Algeria in 1960 occurred at a critical moment in the Cold War. The United States, Great Britain, and the USSR had suspended their tests in 1958 and had been holding test ban talks in Geneva. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan faced a vociferous anti-nuclear movement at home and wanted to foster East-West détente. The U.S. State Department wished to prevent Soviet propaganda in the Third World, including the newly independent African and Asian states that strongly opposed French testing. Nonetheless, both Britain and the United States adopted a sympathetic stance toward France in the run-up to the first test in February 1960. Macmillan hoped to move Britain into the European Economic Community and therefore wanted to avoid antagonizing France, whose support for British membership would be crucial. Macmillan also wanted France's backing for a four-power summit to try to achieve East-West détente. Similarly, the United States did not want to alienate France, a key member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.