UK and France sign landmark defence agreements

At the UK-France summit in London earlier today, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy issued a declaration and signed a formal Defence Treaty that signalled a new era of defence cooperation. Letters of intent were exchanged and a Road Map agreed for deeper cooperation in the future. Three years in the making, the arrangement focuses on joint capabilities and procurement, but also to a limited extent, operations. There are two areas of specific note in the nuclear field:

British Budget Collapse Foreshadows Cuts to Come in U.S. Defense Budget

[Trident replacement would] "be easily the most expensive defense procurement project for the decade from 2015/6, sucking the finances out of other major projects." says Paul Ingram, executive director of BASIC. To read more:


Prime Minister confirms Trident decision delayed "until around 2016"

Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed before Parliament today that based upon a completed "value for money review" of the United Kingdom's deterrent, "the decision to start construction of the new submarines need not now be taken until around 2016."

The Prime Minister also highlighted other changes in the nuclear posture:

Getting to Zero Update

The debate over Trident was heating up with questions about how the United Kingdom will cover costs during a time of tightening defense budgets. In the United States, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to the full Senate, but doubts remained as to whether the Senate would approve the treaty before the end of the year. Thirty-six members of the European Leaders Network called on NATO to increase its role in nuclear arms control just as the Alliance was circulating a draft of its new Strategic Concept, which was last revised in 1999.

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A Progressive Nuclear Policy: Rethinking Continuous-at-sea deterrence

The United Kingdom has maintained unbroken nuclear weapons patrols since 1968. The rationale for this doctrine of continuous deterrence has been based on several pillars that are irrelevant in today’s environment. Rather than an absolute need for continuous deterrent, there is instead a great opportunity for Britain to take the lead as the most progressive of the nuclear weapons states by reducing the readiness and size of its
strategic force. Article originally published in RUSI Journal, Vol. 155, No. 2.

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Trident expected to be delayed until after next UK general election

Britain's Liberal Democrat armed forces minister, Nick Harvey, indicates that the final decision on the replacement of Trident will be delayed until October 2015 - after the next general election. This would allow the Liberal Democrats and their Conservative coalition partners to do battle over the future of the submarine nuclear missile system in the election campaign.


Latest on the Trident replacement delay

Suggestions surfaced publicly today that the UK Ministry of Defence is considering a delay to the main gate for Trident replacement – the point at which a decision is taken to start actual construction of the submarines – until 2015/16, after the next election.

BASIC understands that these discussions have been ongoing throughout August, and that the decision has been made on the basis of accountability and the political context.

The thinking goes something like this.

Time to reassess Trident options amid funding crisis: BASIC report


It is time to reassess options for the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile submarines in the light of indications that the capital cost of doing so could run to 28 billion pounds over the next 10-15 years, according to a new report by the British American Security Information Council (BASIC).


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