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The controversy surrounding the UK’s nuclear deterrent continues with the publication in June 2006 of the House of Commons Defence Committee’s report The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the Strategic Context. The report is published amidst fresh debate ignited by Chancellor Gordon Brown’s recent statement that the UK will stay strong in its commitment to its independent nuclear deterrent.
In December 2003, the Government announced plans to deliberate on Britain’s nuclear capability and the future of Trident in the next Parliament (i.e., the current session after June 2005). Underpinning any such decisions is the core question of why the UK needs an independent nuclear deterrent. Within this context, the UK needs to assess:
• what kinds of threats it needs to deter and in what timeframe
• the nature of deterrence and how deterrence will work
• what kinds of system may provide the most appropriate and credible deterrent capability
• the timeframes required to design, develop and build a replacement system
• when will any such system need to be in service, how much it will cost and who will pay for it
• whether the UK can reduce its existing weapons inventory while maintaining a credible deterrent
• the political implications of continuing with – or stepping away from – the independent nuclear deterrent
• its role in re-generating international moves towards multi-lateral disarmament
The House of Commons Defence Committee Report will contribute to this discussion.
Previous RUSI Analysis:
RUSI Director of Military Sciences, Michael Codner, contributes to the debate at the Hay Festival
Nuclear Disarmament Versus Peace in the 21st Century
What Next for Trident?