The Conservative Party is in favour of
Labour in government initiated the process of replacement by publishing a White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent, in December 2006. This recommended that the new system should provide ‘continuous at-sea deterrence’ (CASD) as the current one does – in other words, that at least one submarine be on patrol armed with Trident missiles at any time. The White Paper left open the possibility that this capability could be provided by three submarines instead of the existing four. The White Paper proposals were approved by the House of Commons in March 2007.
The final decision on the issue is due next year. Irrespective of the outcome of the general election, there will be an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons in favour of building the submarines necessary to maintain ‘continuous at-sea deterrence’, though the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and a number of Labour backbenchers will vote against. The replacement of the present Trident submarines is certain to proceed.
On 9 April 2015, Minister of Defence, Michael Fallon, was tried to suggest that it won’t proceed if Labour has to rely on the SNP for a majority after the general election. This piece of fantasy was invented by the Conservative election machine for the purpose of mounting a personal attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband, attacking him personally being the main thrust of the Conservative electoral campaign at the moment.
There is no doubt that the
Conservative and Labour advocates for the system describe
it as an “independent” nuclear deterrent.
On 9 April, Michael Fallon said
that, if a Labour government scrapped it, this “would
shatter the 60 year consensus that has existed among governments of all colours
in favour of an operationally independent nuclear deterrent”. Labour responded
by insisting that “Labour is committed to maintaining a minimum, credible,
independent nuclear deterrent, delivered through a ‘continuous at-sea
deterrent’”. But is
At least eight (and perhaps nine) states in the world now possess functional nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. All of them, bar one, manufacture and maintain their own nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. All of them, bar one, have complete control over the use of their systems. In other words, all of them, bar one, possess what can reasonably be described as an “independent” nuclear deterrent that doesn’t rely on another state to provide vital parts of it.
other states that have nuclear weapons systems,
is some doubt about the degree of “operational” independence that
Independent foreign policy?
The plain truth is that, if Britain doesn’t maintain friendly relations with the US, then it won’t have a functional nuclear weapons system, despite having spent billions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money on it – because the US would simply cease providing Britain with serviceable Trident missiles.
there is a strong incentive for
these circumstances, it is highly unlikely that
above applies to the
December 2006 White Paper conceded that our US-dependent nuclear deterrent will
become non-functional if relations sour with the
“We continue to believe that the costs of developing a nuclear deterrent
relying solely on
would be more honest to say that
Governments have always insisted that
a British Prime Minister really free to strike any target he/she chooses in
this world with nuclear weapons, at a time of his choosing, using US-supplied
missiles? I doubt that the US would sell
any foreign power – even a close ally – a weapons system with which the foreign
power is free to do catastrophic damage to US allies, not to mention the US
itself. Surely, the
9 April 2015