1. Defence of the realm and its people is the first priority of Government, therefore, the UK should remain a nuclear armed power. A submarine launched Trident (or similar replacement) is the best system to meet British requirements. Ultimately, after all other arguments have been exhausted, retention of the independent nuclear deterrent offers the UK the assurance that if all alliances fail this country still has the capability, and will, to deter a nuclear armed foe.
The Case for Retention
2. Currently the USA, Russia, China, Great Britain and France (the five permanent members of the UN security Council) and Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea are acknowledged to have nuclear weapons. Iran is known to be actively engaged in acquiring nuclear weapons capability and all states have the technical knowledge if not the aspiration to build them. Therefore, nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented nor can the knowledge of how to make them be expunged from the collective human memory. Non-proliferation treaties have not prevented nations outside the ’Big Five’ from acquiring nuclear weapons or developing the various methods for short and long range delivery. Reductions in warheads through arms limitation treaties, policed through international verification procedures, have had some success in limiting overall numbers but not in preventing individual nations acquiring nuclear weapons. And it is against this background that the retention and upgrade of the UK Nuclear Deterrent must be measured.
...What System is Required?
6. However, the nature of the nuclear weapon moves it beyond normal procurement parameters and puts the decision making process squarely into the hands of the Political elite. Therefore, once the political decision has been made to retain the deterrent, it is a matter for government, in consultation with MOD, to decide upon the most efficient and affordable delivery system to meet the declared objective. (Indeed it is arguable that the nuclear deterrent is not a military weapon at all, but, being a weapon of last resort, to ensure national survival, it is a political weapon that should be funded from central funds - not out of the defence vote.) That having been said, however it is funded, once the decision to have a nuclear deterrent has been taken, the type of delivery system, its required parameters and the geo-political implications must be considered.
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