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Disarmament Diplomacy No. 90, Cover design by Calvert's Press, Photo by Rebecca JohnsonDisarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 90, Spring 2009

Trident: Still the Wrong Weapon at the Wrong Time for the Wrong Reasons

Nick Ritchie

In December 2006 the government of Tony Blair issued a White Paper that formally opened the process to replace the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system and enable the UK to retain nuclear weapons well into the 2050s. The government argued that the UK should promote nuclear disarmament but needed to replace Trident to ensure its long-term security against state and non-state WMD threats and general future uncertainty. It claimed that its decision to replace Trident would have no negative impact on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and international efforts to stem the further spread of nuclear weapons and indicated that the UK would consider giving up its nuclear forces only as part of a global nuclear disarmament process.[1]

Blair's decision was endorsed by parliament in March 2007 despite significant opposition, but debate has continued in Britain about the robustness and validity of the rationales presented by government for replacing Trident. Analysts have highlighted the many problems and inconsistencies in the government's position, which linked Trident replacement with taking further steps towards nuclear disarmament. Among the criticisms it is pointed out that Britain's decision will reinforce perceptions of the political-military value, utility and status of nuclear weapons and weaken the NPT. It is argued that the strategic rationales for retaining a nuclear force are weak given Britain's secure geo-strategic position and the growing irrelevance of nuclear deterrence for the many complex security challenges that now face the country. Moreover, it is widely accepted that if the UK did not now have nuclear weapons it would not opt to develop or otherwise acquire them.[2]

Two years on and the Trident replacement programme is underway. However, amid continuing pressure from sections of the British public - most notably in Scotland - and a renewed impetus by the United States to take significant steps towards a nuclear weapons-free world, it is far from certain that Blair's successors will carry through the decision to replace the Trident system. This article begins by outlining the nature of the decision taken by parliament in March 2007, progress to date and forthcoming decisions. It then places the replacement programme in the context of the fresh opportunity to rethink current nuclear weapons policies and concludes by digging a little deeper into aspects of the UK national psyche that underpin resistance to the idea of a nuclear weapons-free Britain.

The process of renewing Trident

The UK Trident system comprises 160 operational nuclear warheads carried by Trident II (D5) ballistic missiles aboard four Vanguard-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). Britain purchased the rights to 58 of the American-built Trident missiles from a common fleet maintained in the United States. After test firings, it is believed that 50 remain in the UK allocation. The warheads and submarines are British built but with substantial American design assistance, the warhead being an Anglicised version of the 100 kiloton W76 warhead deployed aboard the US Trident fleet. British policy is to maintain at least one submarine at sea ready to fire at any time in an operational posture known as continuous-at-sea deterrence (CASD).

In 2006 the government announced that a decision on whether to begin the process of replacing the Trident system was needed by 2007 because the submarines are aging. The first and second Vanguard SSBNs are due to retire in 2022 and 2024 after undergoing five-year life extension programmes. In order to maintain a CASD posture a new submarine must be ready by 2024 and, according to the government, it will take 17 years to design, build, test and deploy a replacement. The government has said that a decision will probably be needed in the next parliament sometime after 2010 on whether to develop a new warhead. Decisions are further complicated by the non-synchronous timetable of US decision-making. The United States plans to keep the Trident II in service until 2042, but there is no guarantee that it will commission a similar missile to take its place.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) procures major new military equipment according to its CADMID cycle of Concept, Assessment, Demonstration, Manufacture, In-service, and Disposal.[3] The concept phase involves the detailed study of different options for fulfilling the military requirement. After an initial period of study a formal Business Case is put to the MoD's Investment Approvals Board for an 'Initial Gate' decision to authorize progression to the assessment phase. This involves further detailed refinement of a set of options to enable selection of a preferred solution and submission of a further Business Case for the 'Main Gate' decision. Following Main Gate approval the project moves to the demonstration and manufacture phases until the new equipment enters service. A major financial commitment will be required at this stage if Gordon Brown's government intends to go ahead with the decision to procure the next generation of ballistic missile submarines. The British submarine industry is keen to secure contracts for four further Trident submarines, which it argues will maintain jobs and skills in the defence industrial base. Once the contracts are signed with BAE Systems for construction and delivery of the new submarines, reversing the decision would become more difficult.

The government's motion put before the House of Commons on March 14, 2007, was to take a decision in principle on whether to replace the Trident system and therefore begin a process to design, build and commission replacement submarines to carry the Trident missiles. This was presented as a decision to seek parliamentary authorization for the first 'concept' phase of research and design work for a replacement submarine in order to keep open the option of replacing the submarines until a Main Gate procurement decision is needed in 2012-2014.

Prime Minister Tony Blair stated during the Commons debate that "we need to take the decision today if we want to get parliamentary approval for the work that has to begin now on the concept and design phase - of course, the actual contracts for the design and construction are to be left for a later time".[4] Underlining his belief "that the reason why we have to take the decision today is that if we do not start the process now, we will not be in the position in 2012 or 2014 to continue with the nuclear deterrent should we wish to do so." Blair also stated that "It is absolutely right that this Parliament cannot bind the decisions of a future Parliament and it is always open to us to come back and look at these issues.[5]

This point was emphasised by then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Margaret Beckett, who told MPs, "Today's decision does not mean that we are committing ourselves irreversibly to maintaining a nuclear deterrent for the next 50 years, no matter what others do and no matter what happens in the rest of the world. That would be absurd, unnecessary and, indeed, incompatible with the nuclear proliferation treaty."[6]

Trident replacement two years on

The procurement of the new submarines is being managed by the MoD as part of a wider programme to manage the future provision of Britain's nuclear arsenal. The current concept phase has involved setting up a Future Submarines Integrated Project Team (FSM-IPT) in October 2007 to develop over two years a concept design for the provisionally named Successor submarine to replace the Vanguard-class. The FSM-IPT is based in Barrow, Cumbria (in the parliamentary constituency of the Secretary of State for Defence, John Hutton) at BAE Systems' Submarine Solutions site, and staffed by 128 people from the MoD, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Babcock Marine, with a dedicated FSM-IPT bureau based in the MoD's offices at Abbey Wood.[7]

Responsibility for delivering what the government calls its 'future deterrent capability' rests with the Director General Equipment in the MoD's Defence Equipment Support (DES). The Director General Equipment chairs the Strategic Deterrent Programme Board and is accountable to the Defence Management Board for the integration and delivery of Britain's nuclear force. He allocates the budget not only for the future submarine programme through the FSM-IPT, but also the UK's contribution to the Trident II missile life extension programme in the United States and the ongoing programme of investment in facilities and skills at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston and Burghfield.[8]

The concept phase has involved analysis of whether a CASD posture can be maintained with three rather than four submarines and how many missiles each submarine should accommodate.[9] On March 17, 2009 Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that the Successor submarine will have 12 rather than the current 16 missile launch tubes.[10] Less than two weeks later, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Malloch Brown, stated that "It would not be possible to reduce the number of submarines in service from four to three, because that would not allow us constant coverage at sea".[11] However, it is believed that this decision has not yet been finalized.

Significant financial decisions are already being made. The MoD's Investment Approvals Board approved a budget of £309.45 million for the concept phase work on the submarine platform and propulsion plants (£130.5 million from 2007-2007 to 2009-2010 on platform and £179 million on propulsion plant).[12] This includes studies for a Next Generation Nuclear Propulsion Plant and comes after a £1billion 10-year partnering contract between the MoD and Rolls Royce in May 2007 to ensure the UK can continue to produce nuclear reactors to power its nuclear submarines.[13] Spending on the Trident replacement programme is expected to rise over the next few years: £200 million in 2008-09; £300 million in 2009-10; and £400 million in 2010-11.[14] MoD has also spent £3 million so far on the Vanguard Life Optimisation Programme (VLOP) to examine the planned five-year life extension of the current Vanguard submarine fleet.[15]

In 2006 the government's cost estimates at 2006/07 prices for replacing the Trident system were £11-14 billion for four new submarines; £2-3 billion for the possible future refurbishment or replacement of the warhead; £2-3 billion for infrastructure over the life of the submarines; in-service costs for a four-submarine fleet and the costs of AWE of around 5-6% of the defence budget (£1.6-2 billion/year); and £250 million to participate in the US Trident II missile life extension programme.[16] However, in November 2008 MoD's Permanent Under Secretary Sir Bill Jeffrey stated that the costings set out in the 2006 White Paper on Trident replacement were only 'ballpark estimates'.[17] Cost estimates carried out on behalf of the Liberal Democrats in 2007 set the cost of replacing and operating a Trident replacement system over 30 years at £76 billion.

In the United States there are plans to introduce a new submarine to replace the Trident-carrying Ohio-class SSBNs in 2028. In November 2008 the US Navy initiated an 18-month concept study to develop and assess the capabilities required and to undertake preliminary conceptual work ahead of more detailed research and design to begin in 2010.[18] Current plans envisage a detailed blueprint for a next generation submarine by the end of 2018, with construction beginning in 2019.[19]

MoD has been working closely with the US on possible new submarine designs. It has set up a programme office in the US to influence the design process for an Ohio-class successor and has contracted out aspects of its own concept studies to US companies.[20] The UK is also paying for concept and design studies in the US for a Common Missile Compartment (CMC) for both the UK Vanguard-class and US Ohio-class replacement submarines.[21] The British want to ensure that whatever missile the US Navy procures to replace the Trident II will be compatible with the UK's Successor submarines.[22]

Forthcoming decisions

The concept phase for the next generation Successor submarines is due to end in September 2009 when Initial Gate approval will be sought to progress to the assessment phase. Parliament will be in recess at the time and pressure is growing to delay the decision until at least mid-October, to ensure that Members of Parliament can formally scrutinise and debate the government's proposals.[23]

According to the MoD's timetable, Main Gate approval is required no later than 2014 if the first Successor submarine is to be ready for operational service by 2024. It should, however, be noted that this timeline is predicated on the questionable requirement of maintaining a CASD posture. Lord Guthrie, former Chief of the Defence Staff, urged the government in March 2009 to "seriously examine the number of submarines that we have and whether we always need to have one boat at sea".[24]

On March 31, 2009, Defence Secretary John Hutton said that he expected a vote in the House of Commons before the government would finalize the decision on the warhead for the next generation of Trident, likely to be taken by the next parliament.[25] In 2005 then-defence secretary John Reid announced an additional £1 billion investment from 2006-07 over three years for a Nuclear Weapons Capability Sustainment Programme at to Aldermaston.[26]

It was later revealed that studies on the potential need for a new warhead were being undertaken by a Warhead Pre-Concept Working Group at AWE at a cost of £10 million over 2007-08.[27] Some of the work is being undertaken in co-operation with the US under the terms of 1958 US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement that facilitates wide-ranging cooperation on nuclear weapon matters.

For several years the US weapons laboratories sought to explore options for a Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), which would (among other things) replace the W76 warhead for its Trident missiles. Unconvinced of the need, Congress has stripped the programme of funding for the past two years. Formally on hold, this US programme is currently being reconceptualised.[28] There have also been recent suggestions that the UK is interested in exploring options for a new warhead that could be developed without nuclear testing, a so-called High Surety Warhead.[29] Though questions have been raised about possible collaboration between the US and UK nuclear laboratories on the RRW programme, this has been denied by the MoD. Nevertheless, David Overskei, chair of the US Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board reportedly said in 2006 that "as far as I know they [the British] are not involved with the RRW...but they are keenly, keenly interested".[30]

Working towards a nuclear weapons-free world?

Following pressure from backbench opponents of Trident replacement, the government firmly linked the decision to begin the process of Trident replacement with a renewed commitment "to take further steps towards meeting our disarmament responsibilities under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty."[31]

This renewed commitment coincided with the emergence of a new global opportunity to rethink the wisdom of current nuclear weapons policies. In January 2007 four influential American statesmen (former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former secretary of defense William Perry and Senator Sam Nunn who retired from the US Senate after serving for many years as Chair of the Senate's powerful Foreign Relations Committee) urged the international community to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Their call has injected new credibility into the possibility and urgency of nuclear disarmament.[32]

These four 'Cold Warriors' were motivated to rekindle Ronald Reagan's vision of a nuclear weapons-free world because of two pressing issues: the attacks of 9/11 that raised the spectre of a devastating act of nuclear terrorism; and the revival of global interest in nuclear power generation as part of the solution to climate change and energy security demands. Their concern, which is shared by many, lies in the fact that the technologies required to manufacture nuclear fuel for modern reactors are the same as those needed to produce the special fissile materials at the heart of nuclear weapons, namely highly-enriched uranium and weapon-grade plutonium.

These two issues have together placed an ominous question mark over whether the United States and its friends and allies can indefinitely control and restrict the spread of nuclear weapon materials and knowledge to other states and non-state terrorist groups, and safely manage relations between a growing number of nuclear-armed countries such that nuclear weapons will never be used in anger, and all whilst maintaining its own nuclear arsenal and semblance of institutionalised nuclear order.

The answer for a number of Cold War nuclear deterrence advocates is now 'no': long-term control is looking increasingly difficult and perilous; possession of nuclear weapons is unlikely to provide an adequate response to the breakdown of the current nuclear order; and the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used will creep ever higher. The long-term solution is global nuclear disarmament however challenging and complex the task.

The four renewed the sense of urgency with a second Wall Street Journal commentary in January 2008 in which they stated: "The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point. We face a very real possibility that the deadliest weapons ever invented could fall into dangerous hands. The steps we are taking now to address these threats are not adequate to the danger. With nuclear weapons more widely available, deterrence is decreasingly effective and increasingly hazardous."[33]

This bipartisan analysis appears to be fully supported by President Barack Obama, who underlined "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons" in a major speech on nuclear nonproliferation in Prague in April 2009. At the same time, Obama acknowledged there would be many challenges along that path.[34]

The resurgence of the 'logic of disarmament' and an international re-examination of the 'logic of deterrence' has led to further questioning of the British government's insistence in replacing Trident and remaining a nuclear power for many more decades. In January 2009 General Jack Sheehan, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, stated that "I think the UK is very close to saying we're the first permanent member of the Security Council to do away with nuclear weapons... I think it is entirely possible that the British government, for a lot of good reasons, could do it and it would lead the world."[35]

This followed a statement by retired Field Marshal Lord Bramall together with retired Generals Lord Ramsbotham and Sir Hugh Beach insisting that "it is difficult to see how the United Kingdom can exert any leadership and influence on this issue if we insist on a costly successor to Trident that would not only preserve our own nuclear-power status well into the second half of this century but might actively encourage others to believe that nuclear weapons were still, somehow, vital to the secure defence of self-respecting nations."[36] In December 2008, a new international 'Global Zero' campaign was launched in Paris by a host of influential political, business and faith leaders, including many from the UK.[37]

Opposition to Trident replacement has also been gathering politically influential momentum especially in Scotland where the Trident fleet is stationed at the Clyde Naval Base. On May 3, 2007 the Scottish National Party (SNP) gained a narrow majority in the Scottish Parliament. The commitment by the majority of Scottish Members of Parliament to a nuclear weapon-free Scotland was overwhelmingly demonstrated on June 14, 2007 when the Scottish Parliament voted against the UK Government's decision to replace Trident by a majority of 71 to 16 with 39 abstentions. Opinion polls also show a majority of Scots opposed to Trident replacement.[38] The former head of the British Army General Sir Michael Jackson acknowledged the challenges that Scottish opposition to Trident pose for UK decision-makers when he expressed alarm at the possibility of a Scottish government removing the Trident system from Scotland and the difficulty of transferring the purpose-built Trident facilities from the Clyde Naval Base to another location in England.[39]

Currently, the Scottish Government and Parliament have no decision-making powers on this issue as matters relating to national defence and nuclear policy are 'reserved' under the devolution settlement set out in the 1998 Scotland Act. In October 2007, however, the SNP vowed to use all powers devolved to it to block the Trident replacement programme.[40] The Scottish government subsequently established a "Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons Working Group" to explore issues relating to British nuclear weapons in Scotland.[41] In April 2008 the Scottish Parliament established a Commission on Scottish Devolution (known as the "Calman Commission", after its Chair, Sir Kenneth Calman) to conduct an independent review of the experience of Scottish devolution since 1998. Calman does not address nuclear policy, but many groups in Scotland have called on the Commission to investigate how the Scottish parliament and government can implement policies that reflect the desire of the overwhelming majority of Scottish citizens to end the deployment of British nuclear weapons and make Scotland nuclear free.[42]

The current government has also been publicly advocating the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, with promises that the UK will take an active leadership role in examining the practical steps and challenges involved in nuclear disarmament. For example in June 2007 Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett articulated a vision of the UK as a 'disarmament laboratory'.[43] In January 2008 and March 2009 Prime Minister Gordon Brown committed his government to leading "the international campaign to accelerate disarmament amongst possessor states".[44] This was supported in 2008 by four senior British statesmen from three of the major parties who published their own editorial, echoing the Kissinger-Shultz positions and calling for: a dramatic reduction in nuclear stockpiles by the USA and Russia; a new multilateral process to work towards nuclear disarmament; entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; and a stronger International Atomic Energy Agency.[45]

Nevertheless, the government simultaneously insists that Britain's nuclear force remains "indispensable" as the "minimum" consistent with prevailing understandings of deterrence. Despite the powerful strategic, political and economic arguments in favour of not replacing Trident and developing alternative deterrence approaches over the next 15 years as the current Trident system is phased out, the government appears determined to maintain a British nuclear weapons capability until a fully-fledged global nuclear disarmament process is achieved - or at least well under way. Only two possible policy options are presented: disarmament as part of a multilateral process or business-as-usual through a like-for-like Trident replacement. British leadership in taking unilateral steps to relinquish nuclear weapons still appears to be regarded as politically unacceptable.[46]

That is why the government's recent strategy for achieving a nuclear weapons-free world set out by Foreign Secretary David Miliband in "Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Creating Conditions for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons" makes little mention of Trident and the decision to proceed with replacement. Instead it reiterates a familiar (though nonetheless useful) nuclear arms control and non-proliferation agenda that has been in play for the past 10-15 years.[47]

British identity as a nuclear weapon state

What underlies the powerful compulsion among UK policymakers to cling to a nuclear capability that no longer has a military utility or useful strategic role? The drive to replace Trident appears to have more to do with the political and defence establishment's perception of Britain and its role and identity in the world than any immediate or projected security needs or strategic imperatives. A reading of government documents and evidence given before the House of Commons Defence Select Committee reveals that the major obstacle to thinking seriously about relinquishing UK nuclear weapons is that the political-defence establishment struggles to conceive of Britain not being a nuclear weapon state. This relates less to security than to notions of identity.[48]

First, nuclear weapons underpin Britain's core self-identity as an important, 'pivotal' power with a special responsibility for the upkeep of the current international order. The New Labour government's narrative of Britain's international identity states that the combination of Britain's history, power, influence and values mean that it has a responsibility to uphold international peace and security. This self-appointed role means that policy-makers believe that though Britain may no longer be a global power, it can and should play a crucial role as a 'pivotal' power at the centre of world events.[49]

Such an identity necessitates an enduring British obligation, willingness and capability to intervene with military force in international conflicts that threaten international peace and stability.[50] A nuclear capability, it is argued, is required to underpin this expeditionary, interventionist foreign and defence policy to provide a form of 'insurance' against the possibility that a military intervention might provoke a major military confrontation involving the use of weapons of mass destruction against British forces, allies or territory. Britain's deployment of nuclear arms, its 'responsible' and 'pivotal' power identity, and its capacity and self-imposed duty to intervene abroad militarily are therefore constructed as part of the same paradigm.[51]

Second, the historic association between major powerdom and possession of nuclear weapons remains strong. Britain is a nuclear weapon state: this is an important part of the establishment's identity and it makes thinking about being a non-nuclear weapon state very difficult.[52] As Mark Smith argues, underneath the many 'rational' justifications for British possession of nuclear weapons lies "a deeper sense that Britain ought to possess nuclear weapons as part of the currency of being a major power".[53] Counterproductively for international nonproliferation efforts, New Labour's reproduction of Britain's identity as a major, 'pivotal' power has revived and reaffirmed the perceived association between major powerdom and possession of nuclear weapons.

Third, being viewed as the closest political and military ally of the United States is intrinsic to the defence and wider political establishment's enduring post-Second World War identity.[54] In fact Britain's 'Atlanticist' identity is so strong as to appear natural.[55] The possession of nuclear weapons is perceived to be a vital part of what enables Britain to maintain political and military credibility in Washington, gain access to the highest levels of policy-making to support the 'special relationship', and keep America engaged in the world. Anchoring itself to the United States is a fundamental part of British security strategy and nuclear weapons are seen as both an important part of the anchor and a symbol of its strength.[56] Beyond the deep political connection, Britain also remains highly dependent on the United States for nuclear weapon systems, technology and support.[57]

Fourth, New Labour's identity as constructed during the 1990s requires it to be 'strong on defence', which appears to carry particular connotations in terms of maintaining nuclear weapons and backing Britain's status as a nuclear weapon state. The Labour Party's traumatic history of nuclear weapons decisions during the debates over procuring Polaris and Trident in the 1960s and 1980s that threatened to tear the party apart still resonate. The associated fear of electoral rejection has induced considerable caution over decisions relating to the country's nuclear policy.[58] When the government released the December 2006 White Paper setting out the case for Trident replacement, the columnist Polly Toynbee noted Labour's "fear of how our own voters might perceive the threat to our global status if they thought Labour might ever let the UK cease to be a nuclear power", and concluded: "Ministers will think it is money well spent if that's what it costs to keep Labour in power."[59]

Fifth, the whole discourse on nuclear weapons is underpinned by a broad and powerful masculine identity in international politics in which nuclear weapons are associated with ideas of virility, strength, autonomy, rationality and protection of the nation. By contrast, nuclear disarmament has been equated with weakness, irrationality, subordination and emasculation - associations most politicians are keen to avoid.[60] The gendered nature of the discourse on nuclear weapons places firm parameters on what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. Hence, nuclear weapons make Britain a 'manly' state committed to 'hard' power whereas any move to relinquish such weapons of mass destruction is framed as a demeaning sign of weakness.


The decision taken by parliament in March 2007 authorised the initial 'Concept' phase of the Successor submarine procurement process and a strong case can be made that parliament should be able to scrutinise, debate and where appropriate to vote on forthcoming milestone decisions in the overall Trident replacement programme.

Over the past two years that programme has begun to unfold and the next major milestone is due in September 2009 with two other major decisions in the next parliament: the first on whether or not to develop a new warhead and the second on the Main Gate decision for the Successor submarine programme.

Just as the Trident replacement programme has begun to gather momentum so has a new and powerful global call for serious steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons. This has led to further pressure on the British government to rethink the Trident replacement decision, or at the very least to postpone it for some years. This is reinforced by an additional pressure not examined here relating to major pressure on the UK defence budget over the next decade as the country faces a prolonged recession.

The idea of giving up nuclear weapons, however, challenges the core identities explored above and generates strong resistance, irrespective of the strategic security arguments marshalled in favour of continued deployment of a nuclear arsenal. Relinquishing nuclear weapons will therefore require the acceptance by the policy elite of a non-nuclear British identity that will require the institutionalization of a modified set of British national interests, expectations and understandings about nuclear weapons. In particular, Britain's identity as a major power will need to be divorced from the possession of nuclear weapons in a way that moves beyond gendered associations of weakness and emasculation while enabling the policy elite to retain a close relationship with the United States and sense of the UK's role in the world.

For security, economic and non-proliferation reasons, rethinking the decision to proceed with Trident replacement is now necessary. To clear away the contradictions may well entail a reconcept-ualization of national political identity and what it means for Britain to exert leadership in the world.


[1] Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent, Command 6994 (HMSO: London, December 2006).

[2] See Nick Ritchie, "Deterrence Dogma: Challenging the Relevance of British Nuclear Weapons", International Affairs 85:1, January 2009 and Nick Ritchie "A Regime on the Edge? How Replacing Trident Undermines the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty", BDRC Briefing Paper, November 2008, University of Bradford, available at

[3] See UK Defence Statistics 2008 (Ministry of Defence: London, 2008), chapter 1, table 1.17.

[4] Hansard, March 14, 2007, Column 279.

[5] Hansard, March 14, 2007, Column 284.

[6] Hansard, March 14, 2007, Column 308.

[7] "Birth of Son of Trident, at Yard", North-West Evening Mail, October 11, 2007; and "Future Submarines Integrated Project Team Office Officially Opens", News Release, BAE Systems, October 12, 2007.

[8] The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, HC 1115 (National Audit Office: London, November 2008), p. 23.

[9] See comments by defence secretary Des Browne in The Future of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: The White Paper. Volume II: Oral and Written Evidence, House of Commons Defence Committee report HC 225-II (HMSO: London, March 2007) p. Ev 69.

[10] Gordon Brown, "Speech on nuclear energy and proliferation", March 17, 2009. Reproduced in Disarmament Diplomacy 90.

[11] Hansard, House of Lords, March 26, 2009, Column 827.

[12] The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, p. 18.

[13] Hansard, July 25, 2007, Column WS89; The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, p. 15; Hansard, June 16, 2008, Column 729W.

[14] Response by Bob Ainsworth, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, to written a question. Hansard, October 9, 2007, Column 505W.

[15] The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, p. 13.

[16] MoD and FCO, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent.

[17] Uncorrected transcript of oral evidence to the Committee of Public Accounts hearing on The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, November 19, 2008.

[18] Elaine Grossman, "Strategic Arms Funds Tilt Conventional in 2009", Global Security Newswire, November 7, 2008. Available at

[19] "Sub officials: missiles will decide design of strategic deterrent", Inside the Navy, February 23, 2009.

[20] The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, p. 19. See, for example, "UK WTS Training Implementation Plan Future Hull", Defense Contract Management Agency, solicitation number N00030-07-G-0044NJ57, May 28, 2008.

[21] "CMC Contract to Define Future SSBN Launchers for UK, USA", Defense Industry Daily, December 26, 2008.

[22] Guy Lester, MoD, uncorrected transcript of oral evidence to the Committee of Public Accounts hearing on The United Kingdom's Future Nuclear Deterrent Capability, November 19, 2008.

[23] See "Parliamentary Scrutiny of Trident Replacement", Early Day Motion 660, sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn MP. Available at

[24] Hansard, House of Lords, March 26, 2009, Column 806.

[25] Hansard, March 30, 2009, Column 651.

[26] Hansard, March 11, 2005, Column 1257W.

[27] Defence secretary Des Browne, Hansard, November 28, 2007, Column 452W.

[28] Jonathan Medalia, "The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program: Background and Current Developments", CRS Report for Congress (Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., September 12, 2008).

[29] Ian Bruce, "Britain in top-secret work on new atomic warhead", The Herald, September 4, 2007.

[30] Cited in Geoff Brumfield, "The next nuke", Nature, vol. 442, no. 6, July 2006.

[31] Hansard, March 14, 2007, Column 298.

[32] George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn, "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons", Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2007.

[33] George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn, "Toward A Nuclear-Free World", Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008.

[34] "Remarks of President Barack Obama - As Prepared for Delivery", Hradcany Square, Prague, Czech Republic, April 5, 2009.

[35] "General Calls for Trident Rethink", BBC News Online, January 29, 2009. Available at

[36] Bramall, Ramsbotham and Beach, "UK does not need a Nuclear Deterrent", The Times, January 16, 2009.

[37] See the Gloal Zero campaign at and "Scrapping nuclear arms is now realpolitik", The Times, April 1, 2009 by Global Zero authors.

[38] Rob Edwards, "Salmond: Help us get rid of Trident", Sunday Herald, October 21, 2007

[39] Tom Gordon, "Gen Sir Mike Jackson's Scots defence fears", The Sunday Times, August 17, 2008.

[40] Magnus Gardham, "SNP in pledge to block new nuclear weapons", The Daily Record, October 23, 2007; Iain MacWhirter, "A canny plan to rain on the Trident parade", The Herald, October 22, 2007.

[41] "SNP group aims to dump Trident", The Sunday Herald, February 16, 2008.

[42] "Pressure for Scotland to ban Trident", The Sunday Herald, September 20, 2008.

[43] Margaret Beckett, "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons?", Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference, Keynote Address, June 25, 2007.

[44] Gordon Brown, "Speech to Speech at the Chamber of Commence in Delhi", January 21, 2008; and Gordon Brown, "Speech on nuclear energy and proliferation", March 17, 2009.

[45] Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Hurd, Lord Robertson and Lord Owen, "Start worrying and learn to ditch the bomb", The Times, June 30, 2008. Lord (Douglas) Hurd and Sir Malcolm Rifkind are former Foreign and Defence Secretaries from the Conservative Party, Lord (George) Robertson, was a former Labour Defence Secretary and Secretary-General of NATO, and Lord (David) Owen was the youngest Labour Foreign Secretary in the 1970s and is now a Liberal Democrat peer.

[46] Nick Ritchie, "Deterrence Dogma: Challenging the Relevance of British Nuclear Weapons", International Affairs 85:1, January 2009.

[47] "Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Creating Conditions for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons", Foreign and Commonwealth Office, February 2009.

[48] These ideas are explored in greater detail in Nick Ritchie, "Trident and British Identity: Letting go of Nuclear Weapons", BDRC Briefing Paper (University of Bradford: Bradford, September 2008). Available at

[49] See Tony Blair, speech on foreign affairs, London, December 15, 1998.

[50] See Tony Blair, speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet, London, November 13, 2001 and Tony Blair, speech on 'Clash about civilisations', London, March 21, 2006.

[51] See Prime Minister's foreword in Mod and FCO, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent, pp. 5-6.

[52] Rebecca Johnson has argued elsewhere that renouncing nuclear weapons would not turn Britain into a non-nuclear weapon state but rather into a nuclear weapon state in full compliance with all its NPT obligations. The NPT's definition of a nuclear weapon state derives from the date of first conducting a nuclear weapon explosion, so getting rid of Trident would not change this definitional status.

[53] Mark Smith, "Britain: Balancing 'Instinctive Atlanticism"', Contemporary Security Policy 26: 3, December 2005, p. 449.

[54] See John Dumbrell, A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations in he Cold War and After (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2001), pp.7-10 and Christopher Coker, "Britain and the New World Order: The special Relationship in the 1990s", International Affairs 68: 3, July 1992, pp. 407-421.

[55] Dumbrell, A Special Relationship, p. 8.

[56] Robin Harris, "The State of the Special Relationship", Policy Review: 113, June/July 2002, pp. 29-42; Charles Heyman, "The Jane's Interview", Jane's Defence Weekly, July 2, 1997.

[57] See Nicola Butler and Mark Bromley, Secrecy and Dependence: The UK Trident System in the 21st Century, Research Report 2001.3 (London: British American Security Information Council, 2001).

[58] Darren Lilleker, "Labour's defence policy: from unilateralism to strategic review", in R Little and M. Wickham-Jones (eds.), New Labour's Foreign Policy: A New Moral Crusade? (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 231.

[59] Polly Toynbee, "This is about the defence of Labour, not the country", The Guardian, December 5, 2006.

[60] See Carol Cohn, Felicity Hill and Sara Ruddick, 'The Relevance of Gender for Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction', (Stockholm: WMD Commission, December 2005), p. 5; Carol Cohn, "Slick 'Ems, Glick 'Ems, Christmas Trees, and Cookie Cutters: Nuclear Language and How we Learned to Pat the Bomb", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 43: June 1987, pp. 17-24; and Claire Duncanson and Catherine Eschle, "Gender and the Nuclear Weapons State: A Feminist Critique of the British Government's White Paper on Trident", prepared for the 2nd International Faslane Academic Conference and Blockade, Faslane, Scotland, June 26-28, 2007, pp. 7-9.

Dr Nick Ritchie is a Research Fellow at the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford. His current work on British nuclear weapons policy is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and saw the publication of "Deterrence Dogma? Challenging the Relevance of British Nuclear Weapons" in International Affairs in January 2009. His latest book, US Nuclear Weapons Policy after the Cold War: Russians, 'Rogues' and Domestic Division, was recently published by Routledge based on his PhD thesis completed at Bradford in 2007.

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