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Nixon and KissengerOn Monday 15 August, the collapse of the US-UK ‘special relationship’ in 1973 was explored by Richard Aldrich in co-operation with Radio 4’s ‘Document’ team. The programme explores a ‘Document’ about Henry Kissinger’s attempts to cut off the flow of intelligence to Britain in August 1973.

The programme examines a fascinating transcript of a conversation between President Nixon and Henry Kissinger which reveals the depth of the US antagonism towards Edward Heath’s pro-European stance.

The transcript reveals Henry Kissinger’s frustration at the lack of support by the UK government for American foreign policy. In retaliation Kissinger chose to cut off the Anglo-American Special Relationship relationship established during the Second World War. Kissinger urged Nixon that “we should show our teeth” in order to get the British into line.

Heath struck back two months later when the Yom Kippur War broke out in the Middle East. America needed British bases in the UK and Cyprus to fly their aircraft over the region. Heath imposed heavy restrictions and the antagonism over Spy Flight lasted until the summer of 1974.

Nixon Planting TreeHere is an extract of the transcript which shows President Nixon and Henry Kissinger discussing the relationship with Edward Heath’s government.

‘special relationship’, 1973 – BBC



33nPodcasts: Landscapes of Secrecy

You can listen to the ‘Document’ programme on BBC iPlayer



The history of the UK/US intelligence relationship, including the period of the Heath government, is covered in greater detail in Professor Richard J Aldrich’s book Gchq: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency.



Edward Heath

United Kingdom Prime Minister Edward Heath to President Nixon.

25 – Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Edward Heath

Gchq: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret

Transcript of Nixon phone call reveals depth of collapse of

British Bases in Cyprus and Signals Intelligence

British bases land development agreement – Cyprus

A History of the Anglo-American Special Relationship

Nixon At No. 10 & Talking To Edward Heath