Skip to main content

Transcript of Nixon phone call reveals depth of collapse of the US UK special relationship in 1973

Professor Richard J Aldrich University of Warwick

The collapse of the US UK special relationship in August 1973 is the focus of the latest BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Document’, featuring University of Warwick Professor of International Security Richard J. Aldrich. 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 intelligence 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 spy aircraft over the region. Heath imposed heavy restrictions and the antagonism over spy-flights lasted until the summer of 1974.

The ‘Document’ programme includes contributions from Professor Aldrich and uses material from his book, GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency.

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

Document’ is aired on Monday 15th August 2001 at 8pm on BBC Radio 4 see:

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 click on the cover image to be taken to more information on that research and the book.

Cover of GCHQ book

For further information please contact:
Professor Richard J. Aldrich
Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 074


Peter Dunn (or Kelly Parkes Harrison )
Communications Office, University House,
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 8UW, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)24 76 523708 Mobile/Cell: +44 (0)7767 655860

PR121 PJD/KPH 15th August 2011 issued after midday