New Strategies for UK Leadership on Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament

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The fourth of BASIC's 2016 Parliamentary Briefing series relating to the Trident debate focuses on the UK's role in multilateral nuclear disarmament.

David Cameron announced at the NATO summit in Warsaw on Saturday, “a parliamentary vote [to be held] on July 18 to confirm MP's support for the renewal of four nuclear submarines capable of providing around the clock cover”. Theresa May is expected to follow through with this decision.

MPs will face a critical question closely related to the renewal of the UK’s nuclear weapon system and its posture. It is imperative for these decision makers to consider what the UK can do to promote multilateral nuclear disarmament. Britain’s national security depends upon global stability, and in particular the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime. Decisions on credible national defence capabilities need to be consistent with UK nuclear nonproliferation and multilateral disarmament objectives. As a P5 UN Security Council member and nuclear weapons state (NWS), the UK has a particular responsibility in facilitating talks (such as the ‘P5 process’) to build the foundations for multilateral negotiations. Whatever decision is taken on replacing the Vanguard submarines the government must set out its concrete plans for multilateral disarmament.

Pressure is building within the international community on the nuclear weapon states to take their disarmament responsibilities more seriously, and this pressure could result not only in a ban on nuclear weapons, but a draining away of support amongst non-nuclear weapon states for the essential NPT itself. To preserve its legitimacy as a responsible nuclear state and mitigate damage done by decisions to modernise its arsenal, the UK must step up with credible proposals.

Click on the PDF link below for the full report. 

The full Parliamentary Briefing series includes:

1) The Inescapable Net: Unmanned Systems in Anti-Submarine Warfare

2) A Primer on Trident's Cyber Vulnerabilities

3) CASD: Options for Trident patrolling

4) New strategies for UK leadership on multilateral nuclear disarmament

5) UK Role in the World


BASIC's 2016 Parliamentary Briefing series on Trident was made possible by a grant from the Mulberry Trust. 


Image: 2013 P5 Press Conference at the United Nations, U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers

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About the author(s)...
  • Paul Ingram, Executive Director has been with BASIC since 2002 and been executive director since 2007. Paul has authored a number of BASIC's reports and briefings covering a variety of nuclear and non-nuclear issues..
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