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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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.

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.

New Commission on Trident in the UK

BASIC Trident CommissionBASIC in the UK launched a cross party Trident Commission today to take advantage of the opportunity that was opened up by the British government to consider its nuclear weapons policy, when it decided to delay the timetable for the construction of the replacement submarines on which the Trident system crucially depends. Growing proliferation risks to states and terrorist groups, domestic fiscal constraints, and the decision to pay for Trident renewal (should it happen) from the core defence budget rather than the Treasury reserve mean there is a now new policy context that must be considered.

Co-chaired by Lord Browne of Ladyton, former Labour Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Conservative Defence and Foreign Secretary, and Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Shadow Foreign Secretary, the  Commission will therefore conduct one of the most rigorous and thorough assessments of British nuclear weapons policy ever conducted outside government.

More on the Trident Commission: www.basicint.org/tridentcommission