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Britain's Independent Nuclear Deterrent Post 2013

  • Category(s): Politics Essays
  • Created on : 17 July 2013
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  • Author: Richard Michael Lamb


The argument for disarmament. Why Britain should rid itself of its nuclear weapons.


The nuclear option has only been used once, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to successfully shut down the American- Japanese Pacific War in 1945 (and thus the Anglo-Japanese conflict also in 1945). It was threatened in Korea (1950-51) and served to neutralise the threat to South Korea from Pyongyang. The Cold War in Europe was a stand-off through the Western nuclear threat to Soviet forces in Europe (1945) and later. The Soviet Union acquired its own nuclear arsenal soon after 1945 and Reagan engineered the end of the Cold War in 1989, supported by Margaret Thatcher, our Prime Minister. A remarkable feat by the powerful Anglo-American Union, a result of the sustained pressure in the 1980’s and before. (U.S cruise missiles on English soil, strategic inter-Continental missiles and American B52 Bombers with a heavy payload of nuclear weapons off British airfields). The submarine (Polaris) delivery system (Britain and USA) should not be forgotten. The Warsaw pact collapsed with the Iron Curtain coming down in 1989. The reasons for the end of the Cold War lay in the loss of will power in Moscow and the Kremlin caused by the combination of the Western military and nuclear pressure and Gorbachev’s preparedness to tolerate freedom of expression in the nations of Eastern Europe and in the individual’s mind throughout the USSR and its satellite States. The hardliners recognised that change was inevitable and that to match Reagan’s and Thatcher’s armaments was economically unsustainable. Once Gorbachev took office “the pack of cards” fell down. (Pope John Paul II played his part).

The Way Forward

It was a victory for common sense and diplomacy. The undoubted refusal of Reagan and Thatcher to take a step backwards brought the end of the Cold War 1945-89. We have had our own deterrent (nuclear): Polaris and Trident since the 1970’s. The delivery system was and is Royal Navy submarines. These weapons have been supplied by the USA to us and the UK taxpayer pays through the nose for it. The question is, should Britain have its own nuclear weapon system in these times when our strong ally the USA, has her own highly developed nuclear weapons? - Far greater than ours in potency.

Essentially, this position makes our own deterrent redundant and surplus to the United Kingdom’s needs- and the World’s for that matter. The monies being spent on our nuclear deterrent would be better spent on the British Armed services particularly surface ships, landing craft, aircraft carriers and the Royal Marines currently being severely cut back. We are an island and seafaring nation and to neglect our navy is a terrible blunder we will live to regret greatly.

Anglo-American Amity

This political and military alliance goes back to the Great War 1917/18, the 1939-45 World War and the Korean War 1951/52, the Iraq conflicts and Afghanistan flare up – not to mention the silent Cold War. The Anglo-American understanding is built on our common heritage, language and culture and will never die. We support the USA and the USA will never abandon Britain. The past proves that proposition. Do not doubt the Americans and their loyalty to the UK. Isolationism is a dead duck. We have endeavoured to act independently of the USA only once in modern times at Suez in 1956 when their secretary of State Foster Dulles in Washington sharply rebuked our government (Sir Anthony Eden P.M) and we had to withdraw weakly from the Canal Zone in Egypt. It is unthinkable we would ever exercise our nuclear deterrent other than in Unison with Washington. In the real world of post Suez (1956) Britain will only use her Nuclear weapons in conjunction with the USA. Even Reagan gave us moral support in the Falklands War (South Atlantic – non nuclear conflict) when we were out on a limb. We will never use our nuclear weapons unless America agrees and releases hers too. Thus our British nuclear weapons are no independent threat to a pariah State. Let us be honest and accept this reality and unilaterally disarm our nuclear capability on the understanding and basis of this bi-lateral special Relationship. France has her own foolish nuclear capability. This nuclear option I write about herein is not a matter of childish gamesmanship but the reality of the nuclear politic. Let Britain show maturity and vision.


The enormous financial saving of giving up our own nuclear weapons will be put to good use domestically and abroad. Some deserving heads of expenditure overseas are hard pressed: British Council, the Department for Overseas Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office itself. More resources in these areas will yield great benefits internationally for the members of the United Nations and uphold the name of Britain, quite rightly.

Our present nuclear deterrent diverts massive funds away from these Departments and other fields currently with no resulting increase in British esteem internationally. We are simply driving Britain into the ground with our nuclear strategy. It is a policy based on folie de grandeur I am bound to argue.


The result is inescapable: do we wish to hold our “heads high” in the World - in the words of the British Army, Major leading his troops out of Basra in Iraq, circa 2010 – or do we cower behind our preposterous and meaningless submarine delivered nuclear missiles obtained from the USA.

The answer is blindingly obvious – end the pretence and come clean internationally and help to create sincerity and comity among the nations by British unilateral disarmament. It is no sign of weakness. We can no longer afford this very expensive luxury and conspicuous expense. Wake up Britain and your Parliament to the real world. May Britain lead the way once more. The US Presidency would weep no tears if we made this policy change to disarm. We would become a tougher conventionally armed nation to support the USA throughout the globe in its “policeman” role.