The UK should remain a nuclear weapons state. Despite President Obama’s Prague speech, the international context in fact is not benign or stable. The threat of a nuclear attack has not disappeared and is unlikely to do so. Future threats are not predictable so as to justify abandoning the UK’s nuclear deterrent. To do this would not only leave the UK vulnerable to nuclear blackmail but would weaken the collective security of NATO and reduce the UK’s international influence.
Trident is the most practical and least problematic option for the UK. Other options would be costly, problematic and inadequate. Trident provides continuous at-sea deterrence and is ever ready to be used against any target. There is no indication that any alternative can offer any better capability than Trident.
Global nuclear disarmament is a slow and uncertain process. A nuclear-free world is highly unlikely because nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented.
No matter what progress is made in global disarmament, the risk remains that new weapons will be developed elsewhere. This makes disarmament more risky. ‘Global zero’ is therefore a highly unlikely prospect. For the UK to be able to make any contribution towards global disarmament and non-proliferation, it needs to maintain an independent and credible nuclear deterrent. The full replacement of Trident is the best way to do this, and therefore the only credible option for UK nuclear weapons policy.
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