UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 4:15 pm, 18th July 2016

I am going to make some more progress.

We play a leading role on disarmament verification, together with Norway and America. We will continue to press for key steps towards multilateral disarmament, including the entry into force of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty and for successful negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Furthermore, we are committed to retaining the minimum amount of destructive power needed to deter any aggressor. We have cut our nuclear stockpiles by over half since their cold war peak in the late 1970s. Last year, we delivered on our commitment to reduce the number of deployed warheads on each submarine from 48 to 40. We will retain no more than 120 operationally available warheads and we will further reduce our stockpile of nuclear weapons to no more than 180 warheads by the middle of the next decade.

Britain has approximately 1% of the 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world. For us to disarm unilaterally would not significantly change the calculations of other nuclear states, nor those seeking to acquire such weapons. To disarm unilaterally would not make us safer. Nor would it make the use of nuclear weapons less likely. In fact, it would have the opposite effect, because it would remove the deterrent that for 60 years has helped to stop others using nuclear weapons against us.

Our national interest is clear. Britain’s nuclear deterrent is an insurance policy we simply cannot do without. We cannot compromise on our national security. We cannot outsource the grave responsibility we shoulder for keeping our people safe and we cannot abandon our ultimate safeguard out of misplaced idealism. That would be a reckless gamble: a gamble that would enfeeble our allies and embolden our enemies; a gamble with the safety and security of families in Britain that we must never be prepared to take.

We have waited long enough. It is time to get on with building the next generation of our nuclear deterrent. It is time to take this essential decision to deter the most extreme threats to our society and preserve our way of life for generations to come. I commend this motion to the House.