decision-making

The role of the nuclear test ban as a non-proliferation and arms control instrument

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was agreed in 1996 after more than 2000 nuclear tests had left a lasting, poisonous legacy. The treaty’s negotiations had already contributed to the indefinite extension of the NPT the year before (having contributed to the failures of the 1980 and 1990 NPT Review Conferences). Confidence in arms control and disarmament was high, and nuclear arsenals were falling dramatically. Strategic relations were good. But things look very different today, with high levels of distrust and low confidence in achieving further disarmament progress.

Commons Vote on Trident Imminent?

House of Commons

Whilst the UK media is relishing the drama over Britain’s leaving the EU, speculation this week suggests the Conservative government may rush a Trident vote through the Commons in July. It would do this to move on from a damaged referendum debate, and divert attention to a deeply divided Labour Party. This is clearly a temptation, but if they do go down this route it would represent an infantile inability to delay gratification for much greater political return later. Trident is a goose that just keeps laying the golden eggs for the Conservatives. An early slaughter would be the height of madness. The clever money is on a vote rather closer to or after the end of the year.

Concerning SSBN Vulnerability ­- recent papers

Two BASIC papers published in recent months (The Inescapable Net: Unmanned Systems in Anti-Submarine Warfare and A Primer on Trident's Cyber Vulnerabilities), have asserted the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent is in danger of becoming vulnerable in such a way that it can no longer be relied upon to fulfil its primary role.

Feeding the ‘Monster’: Escalating Capital Costs for the Trident Successor Programme

In October 2015 Jon Thomson, Permanent Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, described the Trident Successor programme as a “monster” that kept him up at night, “the biggest project the Ministry of Defence will ever take on” and “an incredibly complicated area in which to try to estimate future costs.”  

Trident is Vulnerable

A debate is now raging over BASIC's exposure of the threat emerging technologies present to the future viability of Trident submarines. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) states they do not believe it is a problem, and that even if it were submarines would still be the best, most stealthy platform for nuclear missiles. The confidence implied in the MoD's public line is unjustified, and must surely cover up a deep concern held by strategists for the future viability of its most expensive weapon system.

America needs the LRSO... just in case

Lord Salisbury said once that if generals were left to their own devices, they might well decide to put garrisons on the Moon to defend us from Mars. Envisioning worst-case scenarios and drawing up contingency plans for them is part of what the military does to get its job right. The problem with this professional reflex is that it often fails to assess comparative risk effectively, and in particular fully account for the risks of unintended consequences or the impacts on others. When it comes to nuclear policy and procurement decisions, the temptation for overkill is high.

Next Generation roundtable: Britain's security and the role of nuclear weapons

SDSR word cloud
Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 19:30

BASIC's Next Generation project will host Crispin Blunt MP for remarks about Britain's security and the role of nuclear weapons, including specifics about the most recent SDSR released in November 2015 and the forthcoming parliamentary debate on Trident. This discussion event is for members and participants of BASIC's Next Generation project and is currently at capacity. Please email adatoo@basicint.org if you would like to be put on a waiting list.

Will Trident Still Work in the Future?

Vanguard at Faslane

Developments in anti-submarine warfare could be decisive

Emerging developments in technology that are transforming our lives and already revolutionising the battle-space in air and on land could ensure that submarines will no longer be stealthy in the foreseeable future, however silent they are. This is undeniable, and claims that these risks are minimal to Trident’s future are patently false. The judgement comes in assessing this risk and when it becomes operational, based upon the speed of technology development today, and what countermeasures that could be developed. This briefing outlines the risk and its consequences to the programme.

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