The third of BASIC’s 2016 Parliamentary Briefing series relating to the Trident debate focuses on the issue of continuous-at-sea-deterrence (CASD).
David Cameron announced at the NATO summit in Warsaw on Saturday, “a parliamentary vote [to be held] on July 18 to confirm MP’s support for the renewal of four nuclear submarines capable of providing around the clock cover”. Theresa May is expected to follow through with this decision.
The Parliamentary vote will include a commitment to continuous patrolling (CASD). But a credible nuclear deterrent does not require CASD when there is no live strategic threat to the UK (the official current position). Taking submarines off continuous patrol now would be safe and could:
- be reversible in times of crisis;
- result in substantial savings;
- relieve some pressures on the submarine service; and
- signal Britain’s commitment to minimum deterrence and step-by-step multilateral disarmament.
It is often said that CASD is necessary for crisis stability, but crises involving the threat of nuclear release do not emerge overnight. Future commanders and Prime Ministers could retain the flexibility to deploy nuclear submarines early on in a crisis, and thus send a signal of serious intent. The Government is investing in a new generation of Trident submarines because of uncertainty over future strategic threats from Russia to Britain and our European allies, not in response to any live threat today or a bolt-from-the-blue nuclear strike to the UK.
Click on the PDF link below for the full report.
The full Parliamentary Briefing series includes:
1) The Inescapable Net: Unmanned Systems in Anti-Submarine Warfare
2) A Primer on Trident’s Cyber Vulnerabilities
3) CASD: Options for Trident patrolling
4) New strategies for UK leadership on multilateral nuclear disarmament
BASIC’s 2016 Parliamentary Briefing series on Trident was made possible by a grant from the Mulberry Trust.