Evidence-based policy or policy-based evidence? Nuclear weapons decision-making in Europe

Euroscience Open Forum, Barcelona

19 July 2008

John Finney, University College London/British Pugwash Group
Carol Naughton, WMD Awareness Programme
Georges Parisot, French Pugwash

Sir David King (Chair), Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, UK
Ana Maria Gomes, European Parliament, Belgium PDF of presentation
Bruno Tertrais, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, France PDF of presentation
Steve Fetter, University of Maryland, United States PDF of presentation
James Acton, King’s College London, UK  PDF of presentation

The session discussed the way in which scientific and technical considerations are used in nuclear weapons decision-making in Europe, and contrasted it with the situation in the US. It explored ways of improving the openness of nuclear weapons decision making processes to ensure they are healthy and robust, and not biased by narrower commercial or political considerations. Speakers reviewed (a) the processes involved in making the recent UK decision to renew its Trident nuclear weapons system, (b) French plans to modernise its nuclear weapons systems, (c) US planning to develop a new warhead, and (d) thoughts on the ways in which these very different national approaches interact on an international level in the wider European context, especially during times of policy formation. A further important topic discussed was the need for JASON type advisory bodies in the UK and France.