We wouldn’t launch a nuclear attack on a non-nuclear state, as every non-nuclear state knows. So 190-odd states are not deterred by our nuclear weaponry. We don’t need it for them.
There are 8 confirmed nuclear powers, most are in NATO, the others are China, Russia, India and Pakistan.
As a member of NATO, we’re signatories to the policy of “an attack on one member is an attack on all”. So we don’t need nuclear weapons to deter: we just need friends with them. Anyway, we can rule out any chance of the UK nuking a NATO member, or vice versa.
So: big bad scary Russia, ooooooh. Well, Germany is closer to Russia than we are. It has recent history of Russian (proxy) invasion. And it has no nuclear weapons. So clearly, there’s no need for nukes as a deterrent to Russia: if there was a need, Germany would have them. It can certainly afford them more than we can!
Also remember that Georgia houses nuclear weapons… and they did nothing to deter Russia’s Crimean adventure. So they’re no deterrent, even if you have them. We can effectively rule out Russia as an atomic threat/target, because nukes don’t deter them anyway.
I’d be amazed to hear a cogent argument that China is threatening to unilaterally launch a nuclear strike on the UK. And if it did, we have the protection of all of NATO (which should be the screensaver in your brain during any thinking about Trident).
Frankly, if China really wanted to destroy the UK, it’s best weapon would be finance. It holds several trillion dollars in reserves, and could crush us on the bond markets with not a drop of blood spilled. It hasn’t done so because we’re not a threat and we’re not a rival: we’re a customer. You don’t kill your customers. Not even communists do that (as if China are communists).
In the same region, North Korea are, of course, holy batshit crazy; but if they went nuclear, China would destroy them. A crazy neighbour is fun until he turns violent. Regardless of the target, China would obliterate North Korea if NK attacked anybody. And for all their bluster, NK know it.
Granted, Pakistan is a worry, being home to a large part of the Taliban. But Pakistan’s key strategic enemy is India, the Taliban has been comprehensively out-moroned by ISIS; and there is a vanishingly small chance Pakistan would enter into a war with NATO by attacking one of its key aid donors (which we are), or home to about a million of its citizens (which we also are). We’re safe from Islamabad, unless you’re a Kipper, in which case THEY’RE COMING TO GET YOU, NIGEL!
Likewise India: would they really launch an attack on a country which has so many expats living in it (as we do)? Would they really decide to go to war with the UK, and, as a consequence, beat war with the whole of NATO?
Really? Why?! What possible reason?!
Which leaves the only people we would conceivably use nuclear weapons against as… our closest NATO allies.
Erm… I’m running out of reasons to keep a nuclear arsenal.
Maybe getting rid of them would be seen as political weakness… but Reagan and Gorbachev vastly reduced their arsenals, and are considered strong, effective leaders (ignoring their other failings).
There’s no path through the logic to a renewal of Trident. If you can find one, you skipped a logic-step and/or are being governed by your inadequate penis.
Maybe we should flip it on its head and ask politicians to explain the circumstances under which they’re prepared to go down in history as the man/woman who nuked a million civilians to death.
I’ve yet to hear that discussed.
There’s the argument that we can’t predict the future, so should have them just in case. But it took the Manhattan Project 3 years to design, build and deploy the bomb over Hiroshima, including isolating the uranium and – lest we forget – inventing all the technology. All of it. It would take us 1/10th the time today, because we have the knowhow, and if we forget it, you can find it on the Internet.
So is it likely a nuclear state would go from peaceful trading partner to “we will bury you” in the 3-4 months it would take us to nuke-up in a crisis? If it starts heading that way, we’d have plenty of time to cobble together something atomic that we can drop out of a biplane.
And that assumes no NATO partners offer to help us if we got in a pickle. They would.
Look: we cannot uninvent nuclear weapons. But we don’t all need to have them either… we simply need a couple of counteracting large powers who deter each other, and have agreements with twats like the UK (who keep in invading places). And we have those agreements with big tough friends. Lots of them.
If your argument is “think of all the jobs it creates”, I say: why, this is wondrous news! – neocons have bought into the argument that not every penny spent must produce a profit or a functioning outcome. Things can be for the common good!
But if you’re going to spend £100 billion just to protect some jobs, maybe there are things that cost a lot of money and we do need.
Housing might be one. Think of a £100 billion budget for new homes.
Or, to retain the engineering jobs, why not a push for renewables? Wind turbines. Wave power. Battery technology.
And if you’re into batteries, why not a car industry? Unlike Trident, cars are something we can deliver to other countries without becoming war criminals. £100 billion would be a great way to kickstart an electric car industry to rival Tesla, help to fix climate change, and contribute to our balance of payments.
But, yeah, if you insist, we can spend £100 billion on a potential mass-murder toy that we’ll never use, and can’t figure out how to safely store or degrade. It’d play so well in the Daily bloody Mail. And that’s what really matters, yeah?