The UK's nuclear weapons must be included in the post-election Strategic Defence Review, says the Nuclear Information Service (NIS) in a formal response to the government's recent Defence Green Paper.
NIS argues that future defence spending must focus on realistic and foreseeable threats rather than vague long-term uncertainties, and must support foreign policy goals. Nuclear weapons, which the government says are needed as insurance against future unknowns, cannot be justified at a time when government spending is facing deep cuts, and are “a luxury which squander resources that could be used to better purpose elsewhere”.
NIS wants the forthcoming defence review to consider the need for UK nuclear weapons and analyse a full range of options for the programme to replace Trident, ranging from like-for-like replacement through to renunciation and decommissioning of nuclear weapons.
Each of the main political parties has promised to undertake a review of defence priorities and spending after the election, but both Labour and the Conservatives have said that they would exclude nuclear weapons, and the costly programme to replace Trident, from the scope of the review.
Peter Burt, NIS Project Director, said:
"The government's programme to replace Trident would saddle taxpayers with a £97 billion burden and represents a very real barrier to attempts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
"It is difficult to see how any meaningful defence review can be conducted if a weapons programme which has major influence on defence and foreign policy, and is a major consumer of resources, is excluded.
“Instead of forcing through plans to build an outdated Cold War weapon system, the government should be using the defence review to explore sustainable approaches to security which will help us address likely future threats such as climate chaos, diminishing quantities of fossil fuels, and the spread of pandemic disease.
“A commitment by the government to delay the replacement of Trident pending further review would not only free up resources to address these challenges, but would also be an extremely helpful step towards a successful outcome for the forthcoming nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York."