23 February 2011
General Sir Hugh Beach, former Master-General of the Ordnance and Dr Nick Ritchie, Bradford Disarmament Research Centre addressed a British Pugwash discussion meeting at University College London.
The future of the Trident replacement programme
Nick Ritchie maps the future options for the Trident replacement programme. He describes the technological momentum involving the design process underway since April 2007 and the comparable programme in the US; a complex political momentum rooted in a fractured party political commitment to Trident replacement and deeply ingrained political meanings assigned to Trident that reflect what it means to be ‘Britain’; and finally, the more uncertain financial momentum in terms of the MoD’s budget, opportunity costs, and the Treasury’s apparent unwillingness to foot the bill.
What price nuclear blackmail?
Hugh Beach challenges the assumptions behind the UK’s half century as a nuclear weapons state and asks what it would mean to give up the ‘nuclear deterrent’? From the historical record, he argues that possession of nuclear weapons has not prevented attacks by states without nuclear weapons, and has not deterred aggression. He draws on the experience of non-nuclear weapons states to show that giving up nuclear weapons would be unlikely to lay Britain open to blackmail by remaining nuclear weapons states.