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Britain's political parties and their nuclear postures

In 2016, for only the second time in Britain’s history as a nuclear power, Parliament is expected to vote to decide the future of the United Kingdom’s strategic nuclear deterrent. Britain’s nuclear policy is heavily influenced by the ideological positions of Britain’s three dominant political parties. Each of the parties has a spread of opinion within them.

The British Trident debate: an opportunity for progress?

Whether you support or oppose them, nuclear weapons have become an entrenched part of the British security discussion, with periods of major debate - in the 1960s and 1980s especially - leaving a lasting impact on the national psyche. But it’s rare that we have the chance to see governments - in the UK or elsewhere - step back and engage in truly forward-thinking, public consideration of why that is the case, and what the alternatives might be. This could be one of those moments for the UK. Could. Whether it will or not, remains to be seen.

Trident in UK Politics and Public Opinion

Nuclear weapons policy looks set to feature as a political issue in the 2015 general election. A broad consensus on UK nuclear weapons policy since of the end of the Cold War amongst the party leaderships of the three main Westminster parties has been disturbed by the debate on whether and, if so, how to replace the current Trident nuclear weapons system. This has been exacerbated by a coalition government in which the Liberal Democrats have broken ranks and moved towards active consideration of a smaller, cheaper replacement for Trident that does not entail continuous deployment of nuclear weapons at sea.

Getting to Zero Update

NATO proceeded quietly with its Strategic Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, while U.S. and Russian disagreements over missile defense continued. The United States was also conducting a review of nuclear targeting. In the United Kingdom, the “successor” to the Vanguard-class submarine that carries Trident missiles officially entered “Initial Gate,” or the initial design phase.

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What's next with Trident in the United States?

The United States and the United Kingdom have collaborated very closely for many decades on their submarine-based nuclear weapons systems, and developments in one country are likely to continue having an impact on the other. This brief reviews the United States' strategic nuclear submarine program within the context of U.S. and U.K. plans for replacing the fleets.

British Budget Collapse Foreshadows Cuts to Come in U.S. Defense Budget

[Trident replacement would] "be easily the most expensive defense procurement project for the decade from 2015/6, sucking the finances out of other major projects." says Paul Ingram, executive director of BASIC. To read more:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-cirincione/british-budget-collapse-f_b_769959.html


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Trident expected to be delayed until after next UK general election

Britain's Liberal Democrat armed forces minister, Nick Harvey, indicates that the final decision on the replacement of Trident will be delayed until October 2015 - after the next general election. This would allow the Liberal Democrats and their Conservative coalition partners to do battle over the future of the submarine nuclear missile system in the election campaign.

www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/sep/22/trident-decision-delay-expected-2015.

 

May 2010

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