On 8 August 1946, over lunch with his physician Lord Moran at Chartwell, Winston Churchill enthusiastically answered Moran’s question regarding how a nuclear war might be waged against the Soviet Union.  “We ought not to wait until Russia is ready,” Churchill explained, adding “America knows that fifty-two per cent of Russia’s motor industry is in Moscow and could be wiped out by a single bomb. It might mean wiping out three million people, but they would think nothing of that.” He smiled and then added, “They think more of erasing an historical building like the Kremlin”(1)

Fortunately Churchill was then Leader of the Opposition, having been forced from office in the July 1945 general election which Labour won, but he again became prime minister in October 1951, authorising Britain’s first test of an atomic weapon the following year. However, by then Russia also possessed nuclear weapons raising the awkward possibility of retaliation if Churchill sought to obliterate the Russian car industry along with three million Muscovites.


  1. Winston Churchill quoted in Graham Farmelo (2014), “Churchill’s Bomb: A Hidden History of Britain’s First Nuclear Weapons Programme,” Faber and Faber, London p338 and J. L. Gaddis, P.H. Gordon, E.R. May and J Rosenberg (Editors) (1999),”Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945,” Oxford University Press, Oxford, p186

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *