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.
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.
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
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.
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
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