Until the '90s, British Nuclear Weapons Were Secured Only By a Bike Lock



Prior to the Blair administration, the RAF’s nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key, with no other security of the bomb in place. While American and Russian weapons were protected by tamper-proof combination locks that could only be opened if the correct code was entered, Britain relied on a simpler technology. Permissive Action Links (PALs) — which would prevent bombs from being armed unless the right code was sent — had been introduced in the 1960s, but were resisted by the British military. President John F. Kennedy ordered that every American nuclear bomb be fitted with PALs. Yet, the British continued having to insert a bicycle lock key into the arming switch. Fortunately, when Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, the UK switched to using PALs to guard their nuclear bombs.