Nuclear Notebook: British Nuclear Forces 2011

The United Kingdom has been the most successful of all the nuclear weapon states in terms of creating a minimum nuclear deterrent; in fact, there is reason to believe that the country is considering whether to move toward denuclearization. The authors assess the country’s nuclear forces, providing clear analysis on the British nuclear stockpile and its reductions, the modernization of its nuclear deterrent force, the British-French collaboration on defence and security matters, the country’s nuclear policy, and the country’s nuclear accidents.

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Scottish parliament seeks removal of Trident from Scotland

Following elections in May which saw the Scottish National Party to a majority of the seats in the Scottish Parliament, a resolution calling for the Trident nuclear submarine weapons system to be removed from Scotland is likely to be adopted in the near future. The move comes after UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox last week began the process for a new generation of submarine-based nuclear warheads to replace the current Trident weapons based at Faslane, Scotland. The UK has no other home-port for the Trident submarines and so is unlikely to yield to any call from the Scottish parliament to close the base. However, the move would be a demonstration of divergence between Scotland and the UK – putting some wind behind the sails of a more independent Scotland. In addition, the move would strengthen the arguments of Trident critics within the UK parliament who argue against replacement of the Trident system once it is retired, on the grounds that replacement is too costly and not necessary – in fact possibly detrimental – for UK defence.

Trident replacement and ongoing running costs were reported in 2007 as being £15 – 20 billion (buying replacement system) plus £26 – 31 billion (operating existing system 2007-2023 until replacement system is ready) plus £49 – 59 billion (operating new system 2024-2054) for a total cost of £90 – 110 billion. However, there are reports that these figures are under-estimated.

Time to scrap Trident subs

Action Alert

ICAN in the United Kingdom needs your help to get more British members of parliament to support a nuclear weapons convention. Since November 2007, over 180 MPs have signed Early Day Motions supporting such a treaty. The majority of these are either Labour or Liberal Democrat MPs.

So far, only three Conservative MPs are in favour of a nuclear weapons convention and none voted against replacing Trident in 2007. However, since the economic crisis, a new cross-party debate has begun over whether Trident is affordable and desirable.

ICAN UK is calling on the government to show real leadership in the world by scrapping Trident and entering multilateral negotiations towards the verifiable global abolition of nuclear weapons. We therefore need people to write to parliamentarians and lobby them to support a convention by signing Early Day Motion 498.

Furthermore, there are 34 MPs who voted against replacing Trident in 2007 but haven’t yet signed an Early Day Motion in support of a convention. So we particularly need people who are constituents of these 34 MPs to write to them and explain why the government should back this proposed treaty.

This article is from the news section of the ICAN website

Davis: Talk now or it will be too late to cancel Trident

Ian Davis comments in the Guardian on the Trident replacement: «We must question Britain’s nuclear weapons policy before long-term contracts lock us in». Saying that although the independent enquiry on Britain’s nuclear weapons policy (Trident Commission) is to be welcomed, the status of the replacement project seems – after reviewing the facts – to remain firmly on track. «A strong case can be made for a genuine delay in replacing Trident, ending the policy of continuous at-sea deterrence» says Davis.

Read Ian Davis’ comment in The Guardian.

ICAN Video: Debunking Nuclear Deterrence

Retired British Naval commander Rob Green explains why nuclear weapons undermine rather than enhance a nation’s security. He challenges the United Kingdom to lead on nuclear disarmament.

Stop the War coalition calling for Lockheed Martin boycott

The Guardian reported that the coalition that protested against the Iraq war are urging British people to boycott next month’s UK’s census because the US arms manufacturer responsible for Trident is involved in gathering the information.

Refusing to fill in the 32-page questionnaire is against the law and protesters would face a £1,000 fine and a criminal record by boycotting the census. Resistance to the decennial census is growing as a coalition of anti-war groups, pacifists, religious organisations and digital activists begin raising public awareness about the role of Lockheed Martin, America’s largest arms manufacturer. Lockheed Martin makes Trident missiles for the British and US nuclear weapons systems, cluster munitions and F-16 nuclear-capable fighter planes. The company won the £150m contract to run the census on behalf of the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS)

A campaign to address the issue, bringing together religious groups, peace activists and digital data campaigners opposed to Lockheed Martin, is expected to emerge soon, the Guardian was told.

Read the article in The Guardian of Feb 19 2011

Liam Fox risks Lib-Dem backlash with steel order for new nuclear sub

London Evening Standard: «Liam Fox is to order the steel for the first new nuclear deterrent submarine – despite the Liberal Democrats winning a delay to the formal decision on replacing Trident until after the next election.» Read article

No ‘Back Door’ Trident replacement

Kate Hudson, CND UK

Kate Hudson, CND UK

By Kate Hudson.

Is a piece of nuclear double dealing going on? Last summer the government stated that the decision on whether or not to replace Trident would be delayed until 2016. Now, thanks to the good old Freedom of Information legislation, we know that the MoD is currently planning to order quite a bit of the first submarine – and nuclear reactors for three of them – before the 2016 decision is actually taken.

It also seems that construction is planned to start on significant parts of the first submarine ahead of the decision. These will include elements – if not all – of the hull, the propulsion systems, power plant, electrical, combat and life support systems. In fact, that adds up to quite a lot of the first sub.

This is a classic case of saying one thing and doing another – commonly known as double-dealing or being duplicitous. Surely this is unrepresentative of the ‘new politics’ promised by the coalition government? This smacks of getting Trident replacement in through the back door, bypassing proper political processes and making a mockery of any notion of accountability. And where do the Lib Dems stand in this? Last October they pledged that “Trident will not be renewed this parliament – not on a Liberal Democrat watch”. If that claim is to be anything more than a cosmetic sham – or at best the good intentions with which the road to hell is paved – then these multi-million pound orders must not be placed ahead of the next election.

So what is really going on? Maybe they just told the public what they want to hear – after all a majority is against Trident; or maybe it reflects differences within government about the future of Britain’s nukes? There are plenty of people in the top of politics who don’t want Trident but don’t want to say it. Or maybe we are seeing commercial and industrial interests taking over?

I am reminded of fiascos like the aircraft carriers where billions are committed to projects that no-one wants or needs but we are stuck with them because of contracts and advance expenditure. It’s like saying we have to go to war because troops have already been sent to the region. This is all clearly a total outrage. It is vital that the government commits to an honest debate and accountable process about the timetable, decision-making, cost and scope of the contracts for Trident replacement. Above all it must provide for a fundamental reappraisal – involving parliamentarians and public – of whether a Cold War nuclear weapons system is necessary for the defence of Britain in the 21st century. If you haven’t already done so, please ask your MP to sign EDM 909 calling for such a Review.

The majority of the population is opposed to Trident. Spending on Trident is a dead-end in every respect. No Trident through the Back Door.

Kate Hudson is General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. This article was originally published on Kate Hudson’s Blog.

A briefing discussing these issues in greater depth is available here.

New Anglo-French Nuclear Deal Undermines Security and Health

The British and French affiliates of IPPNW (Medact and AMFPGN) have issued a joint statement in which they criticize their respective governments for having signed a treaty on nuclear cooperation. In the document, dating November 2nd, 2010, France and Britain declare their intent to cooperate in testing the safety of their nuclear arsenals. Medact and AMFPGN oppose this agreement, because they consider it to be a violation of some of the major arms control treaties, and therefore a threat to international security.

Read the statement here.

UK Scientists Plead for Axing Nuke Research

UK Scientists Plead for Axing Nuke Research

British scientists are calling for axe to fall on nuclear weapons research. In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, 36 science professors plead for protecting core scientific research on compelling issues such as climate change and resource shortages by cutting investment in developing new atomic arsenal.