The BASIC Trident Commission publishes its first discussion paper Monday 31 October on recent worrying developments in the nuclear force structures of the world’s nuclear armed states. The report argues that “the evidence points to a new era of global nuclear force modernisation and growth”. The paper published with a Foreword from the Commission co-Chairs, is written by Ian Kearns and present evidence that:
• Despite all the recent disarmament rhetoric, there is no evidence that any of the currently nuclear armed states are actively contemplating a future without nuclear weapons;
• The potential for nuclear weapons use is growing;
• Major development or nuclear force modernisation programmes are underway in India, China, the US, Russia, and Pakistan. Israel is on course to develop an inter-continental ballistic missile; India is developing a whole suite of new missiles with longer ranges; Several states are trying to build smaller nuclear warheads for tactical use;
• If anything, the evidence points to new nuclear arms races and a huge amount of money (hundreds of billions of US$) being spent over the coming decade;
• Despite the need for major powers to cooperatively address the challenges of globalisation, nuclear deterrence thinking is still very evident in the defence policies of all the major powers; and
• The New START treaty, while a welcome return to arms control, has a number of loopholes meaning that its affect on disarmament is minimal.
The launch of the paper coincides with a Trident Question Time later on Monday evening in Parliament, featuring Shirley Williams and former Cabinet Office PUS David Omand amongst the panellists, debating the issues surrounding Britain’s future nuclear weapons policy. The independent, cross-party BASIC Trident commission is examining the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons policy and the issue of Trident renewal. It is operating under the chairmanship of:
- Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne), former Labour Secretary of State for Defence;
- Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Conservative Defence and Foreign Secretary; and
- Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Shadow Foreign Secretary.
As well as examining the issues surrounding Britain’s future nuclear weapons policy with officials and experts, taking written and oral evidence, the Commission is also looking to engage the wider informed community in receiving views on the desired future direction of UK nuclear policy and is hosting several panel discussions on the key issues.
Interested journalists can contact the author on [email protected]g or on 07939 604915.