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Trident Renewal

Part of Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:42 pm on 20th January 2015.

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Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham 4:42 pm, 20th January 2015

I agree absolutely. Armageddon is seldom faced by anyone with equanimity.

I was an officer who spent several years in the 1st British Corps in Germany, supposedly preparing to face a Soviet threat from the east. We knew that the group of Soviet forces in eastern Europe had a huge conventional advantage over us and realised that our chances of survival would be very slight if the balloon went up. But we also trained and practised the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The Soviets knew that full well and it gave those of us due to be positioned right up against the inner German border some comfort. We felt that our possession of nuclear weapons was definitely a deterrent that the Soviet Union would have to take seriously. Most of my fellow front line officers agreed with me. Some did not, but the majority did.

Remember: smaller NATO countries such as Denmark also have aeroplanes fitted with bomb racks to pick up tactical nuclear bombs from American stockpiles to fly and to use them. It is not just the nuclear members of NATO.

Most of us in 1st British Corps felt that our possession of nuclear weapons was a very sound insurance policy. Of course the situation is different today, but I use the example to explain how possession of a nuclear capability can help conventional forces.

I hate the idea of war. Who doesn’t? All my friends in the military are of the same mind as Winston Churchill, who once said that “jaw-jaw” is better than “war-war”. But in truth jaw-jaw often depends on the ability to have war-war. In the 1960s, I remember the US strategic nuclear bombers had a special motto that they painted on the noses of their B52s—“Peace is our profession”.

Nuclear weapons are a fact in our world and potential enemies may use them whether we like it or not. So I believe that we as a nation must also possess them. If you want peace, prepare for war—so that you deter it.