nuclear weapon states

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.

Understanding the new arms race

The stand-off between Russia and the West has prompted triggered fears of a renewed East-West clash. Amidst this climate of confrontation, nuclear weapons have regained some relevance for strategists on both sides, and political leaders have implied veiled nuclear threats. Against this background, the nuclear arsenals of both the US and Russian are undergoing important and costly modernisation programmes.

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit returns to Washington



In his 2009 speech in Prague, President Obama described the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons as the “most immediate and extreme threat to global security”. Setting the bar high, he also announced the start of a global summit process that would focus on the security of nuclear materials from the threat of theft and terrorism in and work “to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years”.

2016 OEWG: Polarisation in Perspective

Discussions about the feasibility and necessity of a legal ban on nuclear weapons took centre stage at the first session of the United Nation’s Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament. The states legally recognized under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear-weapon states (NWS) were nowhere to be seen, leaving their allies to argue the case for pragmatic caution; India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea were also absent.

Making Sense of the Trident Debate Requires an Open Mind - In Defence of Emily Thornberry

It has always astounded me how little attention people have paid to risk and future developments when debating Trident. It's a debate that heats the passions up more than most, because it deals with such visceral things as security and morality, and acts as a proxy for political identity. All too often people revert to established positions, comfortable that they are right, even if they lose.

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 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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