decision-making

Scottish referendum: update & implications on Trident

This morning, the Scottish government published the long-awaited White Paper on Scottish Independence as promised. Scotland’s Future - Your Guide, it is hoped, will act as a comprehensive manual for an independent Scotland. But apart from formally setting out the manifesto points which have already been widely discussed, there are no new surprises concerning the future of Trident concealed within its 670 pages.

Britain in the world: Beyond Europe versus America

It is increasingly likely that the British people will be given a say on membership of the European Union by the end of the next Parliament. Although it remains to be seen whether this will take the form of an “in-out” referendum or a more limited “renegotiation” of the relationship between London and Brussels, the scene is set for a meaningful debate over Britain’s place in Europe and its role in the wider world.

The importance of seeing and grasping the opportunities

The annual month-long meeting of the General Assembly’s First Committee, responsible for issues of international peace and security, begins today in New York. Two issues have been on the media’s agenda: disarming Syria of its chemical weapons and the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and the E3+3. Both involve a degree of optimism, perhaps even an excitement around the possibilities, rarely seen in the U.N. corridors in recent years. Perhaps it is because these openings for progress have been so unexpected.

Despotism or Democracy?

As the 2015 general election and the decision on whether to replace Trident approaches, it is important to consider the implications of the continued possession of nuclear weapons for British democracy. Historically, Britain’s bomb has been dependent on US support, a relationship notable for its opacity and lack of democratic accountability.

Raising our sights in Syria

President Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he stands ready – before UN weapons inspectors report on their findings but contingent on Congressional consultation – to initiate military action against the Syrian regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus two weeks ago, has received mixed reactions both in the US and further afield.

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Countdown to Chaos?: Timelines and Implications of Procurement Decisions for NATO's Dual-Capable Aircraft

NATO Flags

NATO's nuclear sharing program is in trouble. The United States has continuously maintained nuclear weapons in Europe since March 1954 (and NATO has agreed to this policy since December of that year). Since 1991, the only U.S. nuclear weapons in NATO’s arsenal have been B61 gravity bombs, designed for delivery to target by “dual-capable” fighter-bomber aircraft (DCA). These aircraft are rapidly reaching the end of their normal service lives, however, and are the only means by which NATO shares the threat of nuclear attack on potential opponents in times of crisis among several Allied nations.

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.

The Great British Trident Debate: 2013 Reviews, 2014 Scottish Referendum, 2015 General Election, 2016 Main Gate Decision

The Ministry of Defence budget appears to have escaped the level of swinging cuts experienced by many other departments in the Spending Review, as documents are released today. At least for now, plans to increase the (much reduced) equipment spend by 1% a year in real terms after 2015 are kept. But money will still play a defining role in the forthcoming Trident debate.

Policy officials and UK nuclear wonks are patiently awaiting the arrival of the long-anticipated government Trident Alternatives Review (TAR) that will outline options for the next British nuclear weapon platform and delivery system.

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