Campaigners and commentators have pointed out that the government's National Security Strategy, published yesterday (18 October) undermines the case for renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system, to which ministers are committed.
The strategy lists four possibilities in Tier One of the threats to the UK, including hostile computer attacks, international terrorism, a natural hazard such as a flu pandemic and an international military crisis between states that draws in the UK. A military attack on the UK by another state appears only in Tier Three.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) asked how the vast spending on Trident can be justified when the threats it is designed to combat have been officially classified as falling outside the top rank of security concerns faced by the UK.
The Security Strategy was published ahead of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which is due to be unveiled this afternoon (19 October) and is expected to focus almost entirely on armed force.
“The only nuclear threat to feature as a Tier One risk is that from terrorists,” explained CND's Kate Hudson, “Yet Trident can do nothing to deter such groups who would surely welcome it were Britain to respond with a nuclear strike”.
She said that, "The Security Strategy has identified such a large number of significant risks, from climate change and cyber-attacks to pandemics and terrorism, that giving the go-ahead for Trident replacement seems like an exceptionally expensive after-thought, lacking in any genuine rationale.”
CND pointed out that the government has now accepted that “no state currently has the combination of capability and intent needed to pose a conventional military threat to the territorial integrity of the UK”.
In the light of this, Hudson said, “It is obvious that the continuous patrols of the Trident submarines should end. This would reduce tensions, boost disarmament talks and diminish the chance of accidents - not to mention saving millions of pounds a year”.
She added, "Every pound squandered on Trident is a pound unavailable to deal with genuine threats to British security - which go far beyond potential military threats to include survival issues like climate change”.