Commentary on the UK Trident Alternatives Review

The government published its Trident Alternatives Review earlier today. This short briefing gives an immediate response. BASIC will later this year be publishing the results of the Trident Commission, considering the broader issues that form the context of the decision.

Today’s technical government review has highly political roots in the desire by Liberal Democrats to ask two key (strategic, political) questions:

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

This Week - Time for a New Cross-Party Examination of Trident Renewal

On Wednesday of this week BASIC will launch a cross party Trident Commission to take advantage of the opportunity that was opened up by the British government to consider its nuclear weapons policy, when it decided to delay the timetable for the construction of the replacement submarines on which the Trident system crucially depends.

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