The arguments for UK to remain a nuclear weapon state, laid out in the 2006 White Paper remain sound. Indeed, the behaviour of Russia in the past 18 months in terms of her nuclear posturing, and the demonstration of the unpredictability of world affairs evidenced in the ‘Arab Spring’, gives further weight to the policy that now is not the time to be abandoning our nuclear weapon capability. Furthermore, the argument sometimes paraded that UK disarming unilaterally would hasten other nuclear weapon states down the disarmament route cannot be taken seriously, given that this country’s significant reductions have elicited absolutely no positive response in either disarmament or proliferation.
The UK’s nuclear weapon deterrent should provide a credible, secure and fail-safe second strike capability. This can only be provided by a submarine launched weapon – and the facts supporting this assertion are well documented. Guaranteeing as far as possible the warhead’s probability of arrival on target must entail the use of a ballistic missile, because of its higher reliability and comparative invulnerability to air defence systems vis-à-vis a cruise missile (CM). And, unlike a cruise missile, a ballistic missile also offers global reach. Thus Trident renewal has to be the only option for UK to pursue.
The UK can play an important role in encouraging US and Russia to continue with the excellent efforts and results that have been made towards disarmament, most recently with the New START Treaty. The NATO-initiated Defence and Deterrence Posture Review, might provide part of a solution to the issue of Russian short range nuclear weapons. This deserves UK encouragement. UK efforts to encourage the Non-Aligned Nations (NAM) to put sustained effort into bringing the D3 nations (Pakistan, India and Israel) fully into the nuclear community could also bring results. Finally, the UK should retain focus on Iran and North Korea and persuade all countries that they have a role to play in this area, not just the P3.
Click the link below to read the full document.