The British nuclear arsenal, on its own, could kill over 300 million people. In a war fought with nuclear weapons, it is probable that human life and many other life forms would be extinguished. There can be no justification for such an outcome.
Some people say nuclear weapons are “just a deterrent” and would never be used. But they are not credible as a deterrent as anyone who uses nuclear weapons against a nuclear-armed enemy also will be destroyed, . The only credible military use for nuclear weapons is against a non-nuclear enemy – but inflicting such damage in these circumstances would be even more immoral.
There’s also the point that Britain’s so-called independent nuclear weapons are less than a tenth of the equivalent US nuclear weapons. What is the point of having the so-called “independent” British nuclear deterrent? Would we use them against (say) Russia whilst the USA stood aside? In the real world, there are no conceivable political circumstances in which Britain would act alone – so why have them at all?
In a very real sense, Britain is responsible for the spread of nuclear weapons to France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and all others. During the Cold War there was some mad sense and stability in the USA-USSR confrontation as they did deter each other from attacking the other. But there was never any military need for Britain to have nuclear weapons and once they did, for political prestige, other nations followed.
The same could happen in reverse if Britain gave up its nuclear weapons. This would make it politically feasible for France, China, India …. to follow. But rather than taking the lead for nuclear disarmament, the Conservative and Labour parties (and UKIP and the LibDems) all support a massive upgrading of Britain’s nuclear deterrent – costing over £100 billion.
Answers to “Trident costs – a quick quiz” (20 March) – 1(a), 2(b), 3(b), 4(c)