Get rid of the nukes, part two!


Nuclear disarmament campaigners are not the only ones urging the United Kingdom to eliminate its nuclear weapons. According to the New York Times, the United States, concerned that European military spending is insufficient, is calling on Britain to abandon its “independent nuclear deterrent” (Steven Erlanger, “Shrinking Europe Military Spending Stirs Concern,” New York Times, 22 April 2013):

Senior American officials have warned that unless European countries spend more on defense, they risk “collective military irrelevance.” …

While the United States would like to be able to rely more on its European allies, many experts doubt that even the strongest among them, Britain and France, could carry out their part of another Libya operation now, and certainly not in a few years. Both are struggling to maintain their own nuclear deterrents as well as mobile, modern armed forces. The situation in Britain is so bad that American officials are quietly urging it to drop its expensive nuclear deterrent. [emphasis added]

“Either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else or a real military partner,” a senior American official said.

Britain’s existing fleet of four ballistic missile submarines armed with Trident II missiles is scheduled for retirement in the 2020s. The U.K. is planning to build a hugely expensive new generation of nuclear-armed submarines to replace them, but concerns about the affordability (and desirability) of the subs extend well beyond the ranks of nuclear disarmament supporters. Opponents of the replacement plan even include Liberal Democrat members of the current coalition government (Nick Hopkins, “Trident replacement plans are based on outdated ideas, says former minister,” The Guardian, 22 April 2013).

Photo credit: U.K. Ministry of Defence

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