Posts Tagged ‘nuclear deterrent’

If we believe in a British nuclear deterrent, Trident is our only option

24/07/2012, 07:00:06 AM

by Alan West

The debate over the future of Trident is coming to the public fore. This is an emotive issue and our starting point must be to respect the strength of feeling on all sides.

It is important, however, that the debate is based in fact and evidence.

This leads me personally to conclude that maintaining the present Trident ballistic missile system is the best option if UK is to remain a nuclear weapon state. Numerous studies over the past 40 years have reaffirmed that.

I have been involved in a couple of those studies.  Having looked at other options in detail it is quite clear that none of them are as cheap or practical as their supporters claim.

Recently the benefits of going for a cruise missile option carried in Astute class submarines have been articulated.

The first thing to remember about this is that no appropriate cruise missile exists. The UK would have to develop, test and bring into service a new weapon. Even allowing for the “triumph of optimism”, such a programme would be complex, fraught with risk (we have not developed such a missile before) and extremely expensive.

We would have to embark on a new warhead development programme for a nuclear package that would be capable of fitting into other weapon delivery systems. The design and production of completely new warheads would be hugely expensive.

The new missiles and weapon system would have to be regularly and rigorously tested on all measures of performance. This would involve the development of further new technologies and new associated assets. At present the US provide all the facilities for Trident test firings, so all of this would be a further cost to our exchequer.

We then come on to the operational issues.

What range should these missiles have? How many missiles should we have? How many cruise missiles should each Astute carry? Should all Astutes carry nuclear tipped missiles? How many Astute class submarines would be required?  The answers to these questions have implications for cost and capability which I do not see evidence of having been thought through by proponents of this model.


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It is not time to give up our nuclear deterrent

20/05/2011, 12:00:10 PM

by Jim Murphy

Where the Government does the right thing it is important that the Labour party supports them, especially over issues of national defence. That is why this week I made clear in parliament the shadow defence team’s support for the government’s announcement to proceed to the initial stages of Trident’s renewal.  Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent has been the cornerstone of our peace and security for over half a century and in today’s world, as long as there are other countries with such capability, it is right that the UK retains an independent nuclear deterrent.

Most of us believe in a world free of nuclear weapons and a multilateral process to achieve that. Others take a different and unilateralist view born from traditions such as faith, pacifism, political commitment or concerns about the costs. I respect all of those views, but take a different approach.

The nuclear non-proliferation treaty has three pillars – non proliferation, disarmament and the right to peacefully use civil nuclear power – which must provide the framework around our policy.  The greatest nuclear threats we face today come from unilateral proliferation, specifically from North Korea, who we know has a nuclear capability, and Iran, who we know has nuclear ambitions. The most robust response to these threats is for the UK to remain committed to the NPT and to be an active disarmer alongside our allies and other nuclear weapon states. (more…)

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