UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 7:14 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick Conservative, Newark 7:14 pm, 18th July 2016

The hon. Gentleman makes a sensible point. As I understand it, the Secretary of State is committed to reporting annually on the progress of the project, and I hope that will give some comfort to the hon. Gentleman and to all of us who want to see it proceed successfully.

In the time I have available, let me summarise the arguments as I see them. First, deterrence is not simply for the cold war history books, as some have said this evening. Deterrence remains essential to prevent major wars from occurring between nation states, and to prevent our being coerced and blackmailed by threats from those who possess nuclear weapons. Deterrence also extends into war itself, ensuring—or attempting to ensure—that any war, whether large or small, is a limited war.

Secondly, we still live in a uniquely dangerous world, at risk of terrorist attack, as we heard from the Prime Minister earlier. We are also at risk and uncertain in terms of nation states and other major powers around the world, as other hon. Members have said. A couple of days ago, I saw on television the dignified face of Marina Litvinenko, as she stood on College Green, outside this building. She is a living testament to the danger and unpredictability of the regime in Russia.

We have seen further evidence of the growing long-term instability in Asia with the escalation of the South China sea dispute. That is surely one of the disputes that will mark out our generation and beyond, and which in turn will encourage the United States to pivot its attention and resources further towards the Pacific and away from Europe’s security. In late June, North Korea succeeded in launching a home-grown intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew a distance of 250 miles to the Sea of Japan after five previous failed attempts. And let us not forget that it is little over a year since the signing of Iran’s nuclear deal, which I suspect will only delay the prospect of that country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Hon. Members might not be aware that Iran celebrated the first anniversary of the signing of that deal by firing a long-range ballistic missile using North Korean technology.