"When it comes to nuclear weapons, visions of uncoupling Britain from the US ignore a few realities that our senior politicians never mention. As Dan Plesch, the London-based academic and author who has made it his business to shine light on these things, points out, Britain's current nuclear weapons system (and, indeed, the one that looks likely to replace it) is umbilically linked to the US. The missiles themselves are leased from the US government. They depend on American maintenance - carreid out at a base in King's Bay, Georgia - and American software. All this has one crucial upshot: though we get them on the cheap, paying as little as a 10th of the sum they would have cost if we built and maintained them ourselves, they fail what Plesch calls "the 1940s test": if we were at war without the say-so of the US, we probably couldn't use them. "The current system is like an insurance policy that the insurer can take away if they don't want you to use it," he says. "And how bad a deal is that?"
Taken from an article in Friday's G2.
And today, we learn that the government are to cut our nuclear weapons by 20% to 160 warheads, yet renew the Trident contract. The problem of the nuclear deterrant debate - which I oppose entirely simply because it has more to do with reputation and our standing in international politics - is that not enough MPs believe it is a bad thing. A minority of Labour MPs and some Lib Dems. Getting rid of the Trident contract would be the first sign of severing our close ties with the US, and becoming more Euro-centric, whic I see as a good thing. Do Germany suffer from not being a nuclear power? Not at all. In fact, it gives them greater freedom from a Pax Americana.
The argument for the nuclear deterrent is often that will will not know the the threats that will exist in twenty years time, but as Michael Clarke, a professor of defence studies, states, "one option is to be 'virtually nuclear', like Japan, which could go nuclear inside six months."
The argument that being a nuclear power gives us credibility in encouraging disarmament in the future is both hypocritcal and untrue. We are only an influence through the patronage of the US - a position which has worsened under the current government. I'd honestly rather not be a big player on the world stage if that's the consequence.
The white paper wil be outlined today in the Commons, followed by a debate.