'Our most dear enemies': Franco-British relations from 1956 to 1973

  • Glenn David Wasson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis seeks to explore the successes and failures of Franco-British politico-military cooperation from the nationalisation of the Suez Canal in July 1956 until the unveiling of the Anglo-French Variable Geometry (AFVG) aircraft, the SEPECAT Jaguar, in 1973. This thesis will be set in the context of the bipolar nature of the Cold War, where the United Kingdom and France were forced to reposition themselves in relation to the United States of America and the Soviet Union. With a focus on defence matters, this thesis will argue that British integration in the European Communities, a main sticking point in the bilateral relationship with France, was not possible without agreement first over important military concerns. Thus, this thesis will explore the fallout of the Suez Crisis as a catalyst for separate French and British policies concerning nuclear weapons development. The Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ and the F-I-G negotiations will be investigated as part of these opposing nuclear trajectories, culminating in the signing of the Nassau Agreement in December 1962. In addition, the emergence of multilateral defence organisations – including, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Western European Union (WEU) and the Europe puissance will be considered as focal points for Franco-British disagreements on European defence planning. Further, the aftermath of French withdrawal from NATO in 1966 will be examined as a pretext to divisions in Western responses to the Prague Spring. Lastly, the first US-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) will be discussed as the final nail in the coffin for Franco-British ambitions to lead a European Nuclear Force (ENF).

Thesis is embargoed until 31 July 2024.

Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorPaul Corthorn (Supervisor) & Ralph Dietl (Supervisor)


  • Cold War
  • Franco-British
  • non-proliferation
  • European integration

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