Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Shadow Minister (Defence) 2:30 pm, 4th July 2005

As the co-author of the article to which the Secretary of State referred, may I advise him and the House that it is a sorry state of affairs when a former head of CND and a former leading opponent of CND have to get together to write such an article to try to persuade the Government to let the debate begin? Our key question to the Secretary of State is not will he keep Trident until the end of its useful life, but will he continue to possess nuclear weapons as long as other countries have them? When the people of Britain are asked, two thirds say yes, we should, and one quarter say no, we should not. Hardly anyone is undecided. Why is the Secretary of State undecided?

Annotations

Julian Todd
Posted on 6 Oct 2005 5:06 pm (Report this annotation)

So: "When the people of Britain are asked [if the government should continue to possess nuclear weapons as long as other countries have them], two thirds say yes, we should, and one quarter say no, we should not."

The real question is: "Should the government keep nuclear weapons even if other countries are willing to get rid of theirs as part of a deal?" -- since this would establish the possibility of a safer world with multilateral nuclear disarmament.

Lewis's phrasing of the question is particularly pertinant with regards to Iran's nuclear armament. Iranians can argue more forcefully that they need these weapons of mass destruction to deter a known aggressor, the UK, which has just invaded a neighbouring country of theirs. The reverse situation -- that of Iran invading territory in or near Britain -- is not believable. For a start, we don't have anything they want. Such as oil.

I J
Posted on 10 Oct 2005 4:48 pm (Report this annotation)

Is it practical for nations to club together for defence? To buy a nuclear deterrent?

The NATO club is finding it impossible to coordinate defence spending. Many member states are reducing their public expenditure. For example, The Netherlands already spend only 1.7% of GDP on defence (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?gid=2005-06-28a.395.1). Nevertheless, they are to sell some of their warships to Belgium and to Latvia.

On the Dutch government's attempt to buy Tomahawk cruise missiles, it was reported last year:
"A member of the Dutch Socialist Party [one of the opposition parties], says it’s wrong for the minister to try and buy new weapons at a time of cutbacks:
This government has a policy of cuts in all sectors of the welfare state. We have three million people now not having dental care any more because it’s out of the national health service […] everybody has been facing cuts. At the same time, our defence minister is suggesting that we should buy a new weapon system worth over 100 million euros."