Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Britain’s Nuclear Future—And Nuclear Payment to Australia’s Aboriginals

Posted by K.E. White on January 15, 2010

With the Iraq War fallout, Britain has been forced to reassess its military posture. The Financial Times offers an aged—but still—fantastic panel discussion on Britain’s military future.

For this blog, David Davis’ contribution on Britain’s nuclear arsenal merits particular note:

In January, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, former chief of the defence staff, General Lord Ramsbotham and General Sir Hugh Beach described it as “virtually irrelevant” and argued for the funds behind it to be used to provide the army “with what they need to meet the commitments actually laid upon them”.

I do not agree with this argument. It seems to me perverse that we have a nuclear deterrent when we face one or two hostile nuclear powers, both with stable (albeit unpleasant) governments, but abandon it when we have a proliferation of relatively unstable nuclear antagonists.

But that does not mean we should squander money on an upgrade. The reason we decommissioned the cheaper air-dropped WE177 nuclear bombs in the 1990s and kept Trident was because the Trident system was designed to survive an all-out Soviet attack with sufficient power to retaliate. That threat is much reduced, and the bigger threat is of one or two probably inaccurate nuclear weapons from a rogue state…

Is Davis right? Are nuclear weapons useful tools to deter or punish terrorist actions? Or does preventing nuclear terrorism require nuclear-armed nations to reduce or disarm their stockpiles?

Note that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council also represent the only five legally recognized nuclear-armed states under the NPT. Would one of the P-5 disarming, however small their arsenal may be, help reinforce international norms against proliferation?

Whatever the answers, by avoiding it Davis fails to prove the worth of a U.K. nuclear deterrent.

P.S. Britain and Australia have completed decontaminating and returning aboriginal lands used for 1950s nuclear tests.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: