Opinion: A commitment to Trident diverts resources from the real threats to the UK

The ratcheting up of tensions in the last Cold War conflict in recent days has got David Cameron reminiscing about Britain’s own Cold War relic. Writing in the Daily Telegraph this Wednesday, the Prime Minister argues North Korea’s threats of nuclear war demonstrate that “it would be foolish to leave Britain defenceless against a continuing, and growing, nuclear threat.”

When I first heard this it struck me how out-of-date this view seems. As the world has watched the North Korea issue increasingly apocalyptic threats and the U.S. Government respond almost daily by deploying more military hardware to the region, in a move seemed designed only to provoke Kim Jong-Un’s hermit kingdom even further (Ron Paul is well worth a read for once on this), I cannot confess to feeling that the UK is any safer just because we have the capability to blow up North Korea many times over if it all gets a bit too much.

Trident, as befits its age, is a weapon derived of a Cold War mind-set, where the biggest threat to the UK’s security comes from conventional warfare against hostile nation-states. I read recently a sobering report from the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, titled “If Britain Fired Trident”, which models the consequences of a hypothetical UK nuclear attack on Moscow and concludes that it would result in 5.4 million civilian deaths. Such destructive ability though does not match what the Government considers the UK’s most pressing security risks. According to the National Security Strategy, these do not include war with other nation-states but rather are terrorism, cyber-warfare, natural disasters and an international military crisis. These are all threats which Trident is utterly useless in countering. Its only role is to prevent what the Strategy regards as the “low likelihood threat” of nuclear war.

Yet replacing Trident will cost the UK taxpayer an estimated £2bn a year for the next 40 years. Earlier this year, Danny Alexander, rejected a ‘like-for-like’ replacement of Trident, arguing that it is “not financially realistic”. Labour has recently announced that it would be looking at “value for money” of Trident before the next election and possibly proposing a cheaper alternative. But all this arguably misses the point. Does continuing to possess our own independent nuclear deterrent really represent money well-spent? Could cutting Trident represent better ‘value for money’ for the UK defence budget?

These questions are particularly pertinent at a time when spending cuts risk decimating the ability of our Armed Forces to respond effectively to the new security threats of the 21st century. With a spare £2bn a year, the UK could easily afford to run our two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers (total cost: £7bn) and the Joint Strike Fighters (total cost: £65m each) that will fly off them. The UK has already been forced to scale back its counter-piracy operations as a result of defence cuts. Cuts to Army manpower could be reversed entirely. A new RAF Nimrod fleet of reconnaissance and surveillance planes could be introduced and the RAF could retain its search and rescue capabilities.

Money could also be spent on new security threats. Cyber-security spending could be increased significantly from the current £650m budget for the next four years. With the UK’s internet economy worth £121bn a year, countering cyber-crime and cyber-warfare is an urgent need. We could increase our contribution to the UN peacekeeping budget. We could focus on dealing with natural disasters such as flooding and reverse the 2011 cut of 8% to UK flood defence systems.

It is always difficult to predict new threats to the UK’s security. However, by continuing to trust in a defence policy designed for a very different era, we risk undermining our capability to deal with the challenges the new century will bring.

* Alex Paul Shantz is a former member of the Liberal Democrats who now lives in Iowa, where he most recently was a field organizer for New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s presidential campaign. Originally from London, he previously worked in public policy in Washington, DC for the Atlantic Council, a foreign affairs think tank.

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  • Trident a waist of monet air launch ground based an ship based nuk’s are more than we need and cheaper we are a bankrupt country we cannot afford trident

  • @jedibeeftrix: The National Security Strategy listed the top four security threats (the so-called “Tier One”) as being terrorism, cyber-warfare, international crises like Libya and natural disasters. How does having the ability to kill every living thing in a 10km radius help us defend against any of these?

  • Peter Hayes 4th Apr '13 - 8:20pm

    If N Korea ever fired a nuclear weapon at us would we go for a second strike? What happens if the wind blows the fallout to the south, would America attack us because of the US troups irradiated?

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 8:47pm

    Of course we would go for a second strike! It’s a good job some of you aren’t government ministers, advertising people to attack us.

    I know some of you have accepted the pacifist ideology however in my opinion if you don’t stand up for yourself in this world you just get exploited by people willing to stamp on you. Fairness, not softness, should be the order of the day.

  • Al McIntosh 4th Apr '13 - 9:23pm

    With the Tories committed to Trident and Ed Milliband confirming that Labour would renew Trident, the only way to implement the Lib Dem policy of no like-for-like replacement of trident is by voting YES in next year’s Scottish independence referendum. A no vote is a vote for wasting scarce public money replacing trident,

    With the MOD confirming that it wouldn’t station Trident nuclear weapons in Devonport because the “density of population creates too great a risk”, it shows the contempt that the UK government has for the Scottish people while we remain in the UK. It regards Scots near Glasgow and the Clyde as expendable while those in the south of England are not. No wonder a recent poll shows that 80% of Scots are opposed to Trident! Only with a YES vote can the will of the Scottish people be enforced. Only a YES vote can remove Trident from the Clyde!

  • Mike Yeomans 4th Apr '13 - 9:34pm

    Nice post Alex

    Jedibeeftrix made some interesting points. My only observations are that that trident would maintain high investment in UK economy and the military industrial complex would help growth. Also that whilst yes, the NSS places nuclear war low as a threat, that we have our independent deterrent ensures it is such a low threat due to basic MAD theory.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 9:36pm

    People should not try to use terrorism, the deficit, finances or any other arguments to disguise their true beliefs. They should just say “I’m a pacifist and I don’t believe in nuclear weapons”.

    The argument that just because our enemy is terrorism at the moment so we should get rid of nuclear weapons is very weak. No one can predict who our enemy might be in the future.

    People against having nuclear weapons should ask what they would have done during World War II. Would they have just left Germany to acquire nuclear weapons and then invade Britain, ending liberalism and democracy in the United Kingdom? Again, no one can be sure a threat such as this won’t happen again in the future. Nobody thought after WW1 we would have to go through the same again within a generation.

  • @jedibeeftrix I’m delighted we possess the capability to blow up a country that has already blown us up. How useful.

    Also do you remember when our nuclear deterrent deterred the Argentinians from invading the Falklands Islands? Or when India’s nuclear deterrent prevented the Kargil War? Me neither, funnily enough…

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 9:44pm

    Alex Paul, how can you not see that the fact we can blow up any country who blows us up, deters people from blowing us up in the first place?

  • @Eddie: I’m most definitely not a pacifist; the ability to defend your sovereignty is central to the concept of nation-states. I just cannot see how possessing the ability to annihilate the Earth several times over is going to help us in a future war without it also being a detriment to us.

    @Al: Your strategy neatly encapsulates the idiom of cutting off your nose to spite your face if you ask me. I have read the CND paper where they discuss the options for the UK nuclear deterrent if Scotland does go independent. However, I thought it missed the point – those against nuclear weapons should be campaigning for disarmament full-stop, not just disarmament north of Berwick.

  • I mean if we had lots of money then yeah, and I suppose some of that £2bn goes to UK jobs, but, well, I can’t see us ever firing it. And noone would fire on us cos our Ally the United States of America would have their stash. So surely better to spend £2bn countering the actual threats we face?

  • @Eddie (on your last comment): Firstly, because having nuclear weapons hasn’t stopped other countries attacking the UK – see the Falklands 1982. Secondly, what has stopped us being blown up since 1945 is our alliances with other states (see the EU/NATO). Thirdly, the list of countries without nuclear weapons that have avoided invasion/being blown up since 1945 despite not possessing nuclear weapons is quite long. Frankly, I’d rather rely on the democratic peace theory than MAD…

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 9:58pm

    Alex Paul,

    ” I just cannot see how possessing the ability to annihilate the Earth several times over is going to help us in a future war without it also being a detriment to us.”

    If a nation such as China was on our doorstep threatening to invade, and we said “if you invade then 1,000 nuclear bombs from the west will drop onto mainland China”, then perhaps they wouldn’t invade. Whereas if we said “if you invade we will fight you on the beaches”, then perhaps they might risk that. All hypothetical of course.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 10:00pm

    The second strike capability is a thing of beauty because even if they struck us for threatening them, then they would still get it back just as bad.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 10:04pm

    Democratic peace theory didn’t work for around 2,000 years, MAD has protected mainland UK pretty well (besides against terrorism).

  • Hannah Bettsworth 4th Apr '13 - 10:12pm

    I do like people who are pro-independence citing getting rid of Trident as a reason despite the fact that there would still be the same number of nuclear weapons in the world. In terms of MAD as an effective doctrine, it assumes that you’re facing a rational actor, which in terms of a regime like North Korea or in the event of a terrorist group getting hold of nukes, you’re not.

  • @Eddie: Personally I tend to prefer grounding my views in realistic appraisals of policy. I’m really not willing to enter into a debate which starts with a reductio ad absurdum argument.

  • @Eddie – “Democratic peace theory didn’t work for around 2,000 years” – do you not think part of the problem might have been a slight lack of democracies?

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 10:29pm

    Hannah, I agree that by having nuclear weapons in the world there is a risk of terrorists getting hold of them. I am open to the idea of multilateral disarmament, but this would have to be agreed by every nation on earth.

  • Two final points:

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Apr '13 - 10:34pm

    The same message goes to Alex Paul, I am open to disarmament but only if the whole world agrees to it.

  • Why would any country try and physically invade us these days (too expensive, too much loss of life) when they can just as effectively cripple us by taking down the internet? Nuclear weapons are totally useless in dealing with this and our continued focus on them (as seen with Cameron today) means that we are not considering other, more pertinent threats and how we can combat them.

  • Jedi,
    “the continuous decline of Defence as a national priority is strangling the Armed Forces”

    Yet external security is best attained and maintained by the open diplomacy which follows from political and economic integration, such as intelligence-sharing with allies and establishing common standards (for example on human rights such as regarding the outlaw of torture).

    And you yourself highlight the ‘peace dividend’ gained from membership of international institutions, which you describe as enabling spending on defence to be restrained, as economies benefit from growth driven by integration, and thereby allowing cash to be shifted to areas capable of supporting wider popular approval.

    Presuming you also still adhere to your longstanding desire to withdraw from international relationships as a result of the obligations we chose to place upon ourselves, it therefore strikes me as though your conclusion that security would be enhanced by raising defence spending to 2.5% of GDP is neither a reliable means of determining percentages nor a sustainable line of argument.

    Following your own reasoning you’d be actually wishing to escalate defence ‘planning and preparation’ by 100% to 4% of GDP.

    Furthermore I’d argue that in truth even a proportional increase in that figure to 4% of GDP may well represent a real-terms cut in defence spending since withdrawl from the EU would have massive damaging implications for trade.

    And this whilst rejecting the very ‘peace dividend’ which comes from de-escalation of tension in international relations.

    Independently your policy choices can be rationalised, in concert they are likely to produce the exact opposite of the effect you desire.

    For all your talk of boosting ‘security’ you’d actually be undermining it.

  • The Centreforum report ‘Dropping the Bomb: a post Trident future’ published last year, concluded that there is no credible threat to the UK now or in the foreseeable future where British Trident missiles would make a contribution to our security.

    In examining in detail the alternatives to Trident, including the cruise missile option, the authors find that they are either technically unproven, fiscally uncosted, militarily ineffective, strategically destabilizing or a combination of all four. There are essentially two options: a like for like replacement of Trident with ‘continuous at sea deterrence’ (known as CASD) or non-replacement. The question is raised – If we don’t need to replace Trident in 2028 because it fulfils no strategic role, why waste money on it until then.

    The report authors propose a costed plan of eight interlocking recommendations, which withdraws Trident from service immediately, refocuses AWE Aldermaston’s work on disarmament verification technologies, and invests in the conventional forces to allow the UK to meet its global commitments. As part of this they propose converting the existing submarines to carry conventional cruise missiles to bridge the long range strike gap to the new carriers. It would provide a balanced UK military to maximise our ability to be a force for good worldwide. In the very unlikely case of a new Cold War, it would provide us with the option to return to fielding nuclear weapons.

    The report is well argued and sets out a credible path to a rebalancing of our military capabilities to meet the priority needs identified by the strategic defence review.

  • People who blithely talk about the use of nuclear weapons with no idea of the actual human cost of those weapons, people who have not bothered to familiarize themselves with the well-documented consequences of their use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and who have not attempted to grasp the far greater destructive power, both individually and en masse, of today’s weapons, do not deserve a seat at the table. There is no excuse for either flippancy or sabre-rattling when it comes to these tools of destruction.

  • I note that Germany does not have nuclear weapons whilst, at the same time is a much more successful and civilised society than our own. Unlike Jebedefix who substitutes intellect for judgement I would prefer £35Bn to be spent on generating a successful economy along with sustaining our welfare state.

  • We can’t afford both like for like trident replacement and to properly equip our forces for all their foreign adventures. Something has to give.

  • @Jebedefix “Britain’s great power role” sorry it’s something we can no longer afford. We can only act in alliance with NATO and like Germany etc we can do so without an INDEPENDENT nuclear weapon. It’s called judgement based on realism of GB in the 21st century

  • Eddie Sammon 5th Apr '13 - 10:39am

    “invite the guy over for a beer” – have you never heard of crime Peter? Or does that not exist in your safe idealistic world?

    At the end of the day, if you haven’t got a simple argument then you haven’t got an argument at all. You should also just come out and say you are a pacifist and then we would all understand. Alternatively, you could try and make a really good point such as Hannah about terrorists getting hold of weapons of mass destruction.

  • @Joe – thanks for posting that report. I hadn’t seen it and will read with interest. I would love to kick the can down the road and make a strategic decision in 2028 about Trident but defence procurement takes time – and so the decision needs to be made now or in the next couple of years (by 2016 I believe) at the latest if we do want to replace Trident. Otherwise the UK will find itself without a nuclear deterrent regardless of whether it wants one or not.

    @David – totally agree. The CND report on bombing Moscow sums this up for me – the loss of life and destruction it would cause far outweighs anything the human race has ever seen before (Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastating in their own right, but nothing compared to the power of these bombs).

    @Brian – this is the conclusion I’ve come to too. The UK simply does not have the military resources to launch independent expeditionary missions anymore. We can only operate abroad for long periods of time in consort with our allies – the vast majority of which do not possess nuclear weapons. As I said earlier, did Polaris/Trident prevent the Argentinians invading the Falkland Islands? Some deterrent if it didn’t. And out of all those nations in the world today who do not possess nuclear weapons, how many have been invaded in the last 68 years as a result? Not very many, I’d posit. I notice this is a point those loudly proclaiming our need for a nuclear deterrent have so far ignored as well…

    P.S. as to those claiming that the Great British Public loves nuclear weapons and Trident… have a look at some polling. I’ve haven’t seen many recently where the GBP supports your stance. (See here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jul/13/icm-poll-nuclear-weapons and here: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/07/13/uk-britain-nuclear-poll-idUKTRE66C2FN20100713 and here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1286199/David-Cameron-told-Heres-37bn-cuts-started.html)

  • @jedibeeftrix: I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me to use specific names on this site, and it would in any case detract from my point to call out particular individuals. There has come to be, over time, as the memory of HIroshima and Nagasaki has receded, a puerilely dismissive attitude toward nuclear war and nuclear “weapons,” which sees a nuclear device as merely a slightly bigger bomb, and a bomb simply as something that creates a big pretty flash in a video game. The commonplace use of “nuke” shows a total mental divorce from the reality of vaporisation, flash burns, blast destruction, and slow death by radiation — the way many people imagine nuclear war, there is no blood, no pus, no gangrene, no severed limbs, no vomiting. It is all neat and sanitized, with the number of deaths vastly underestimated and the amount of destruction not visualized at all.

    The fact is that atom and hydrogen “bombs” are not bombs at all. They are things of an entirely different magnitude of destructive power. They are not even “weapons,” since they have no intelligible tactical or strategic use, despite the best efforts of generations of military minds to invent one for them. Considered as devices to be used against human beings, they are only classifiable as instruments of humanicide — the attempted destruction of the entire human species. Failure to grasp the difference between nuclear devices and other weapons of war is the mark of, at best, a slackjawed naïveté, and at worst a total psychotic break from reality — the mentality of a mass murderer indifferent to human life.

  • Alex,

    the Centreforum report does not propose kicking the can down the road until 2028 but recommends making the decision to retire the existing Trident system now while maintaining UK capability at a nuclear threhold status. The first recommendation in the report outlines the rationale for this.

    “Retire the existing Trident system immediately without replacement and convert the current Trident submarines to a conventional role from 2014 through to life-expiry in 2029 – 32, recycling 100 per cent of the savings into the UK’s
    conventional forces. Such a conversion replicates the US Navy’s so-called “Tactical Trident” programme, which has converted four Ohio -class submarines to carry up to 154 cruise missiles as well as Special Forces. In UK service, this would see the converted Vanguard – class submarines carrying up to 98 cruise missiles (depending on configuration), providing a survivable, flexible and covert platform capable of striking targets at more than 1200nm range. These
    converted Vanguard-class submarines will provide long-range conventional strike capability when the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers and their associated air-wing become fully operational in 2030.”

  • There are a valid questions to ask about Trident and the N.Korea dimension:

    If N.Korea (or any other minor state) were to launch nuclear weapons against the UK, and let us assume that they successfully launch (and deliver) them; would the rest of the world just idly standby, shake their collective heads and walk-on?

    If the UK were to respond in kind, could we actually successfully launch our missiles without other parties mis-interpreting our action – this would be a particular concern with N.Korea.

  • Old Codger Chris 5th Apr '13 - 6:53pm

    If nukes, and an increase in conventional spending, are necessary we have to afford it. But I simply can’t see that UK nukes are deterring anyone.

    It’s supposed to be an independent deterrent. Would any UK government launch without US approval? I think – and very much hope – not.

    North Korea makes me nervous because, like Saddam Hussein, their leadership is stupid as well as suicidal. Do we really think the Dear Leader will worry much about the UK’s deterrent?

  • @Joe: Apologies – as I said I haven’t read the report yet, I was merely inferring from your comment that delaying the decision on Trident until 2028 was what it said. Otherwise I agree with your point and the sentiments of the report.

    @jedibeeftrix – Congratulations ,you found a survey with different results from the three I found. The UK would be able to financially sustain an interventionist foreign policy much more successful in my view without spending the money on Trident. See my article for more. Secondly, are you going to answer my questions from earlier? I’ll repeat them here in case you missed them:

    1. Did the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons did not deter the Argentinians from invading the Falkland Islands in 1982?
    2. Out of those nations which do not, and have never, possessed nuclear weapons, how many have found themselves invaded as a result in the last 68 years? Australia for one has been known to intervene in regional conflicts and beyond militarily (think Timor-Leste, Afghanistan) and I haven’t seen it fending off invasions over the years. It’s far neighbourhood is also a lot less secure than ours.

  • Eddie Sammon 5th Apr '13 - 8:35pm

    Alex Paul,

    I wish to answer the two questions you pose Jedi because they are irritating me. We are not saying that having nuclear weapons will guarantee to prevent an attack, but they certainly act as a deterrent. You must agree on this simple premise? I feel we are arguing about degrees rather than absolutes.

  • Paul McKeown 6th Apr '13 - 1:00am

    Cameron raising the North Korean paper tiger as proof of the necessity for the like for like replacement of Trident is perhaps the most stupid thing he has ever stated in public, which given a track record of misremembering some very basic facts about the history of the Second World War, for instance, and his European veto which failed to veto anything, is a pretty low standard of imbecility indeed to match.

    What for me was most remarkable was the way it was seen as risible by large numbers commenting below the line in the Telegraph, even by those who wish to see Trident replaced.

    It is already public knowledge that if a Conservative government were re-elected in 2015, it would seek a further 10% reduction in the defence budget. Given that the Conservative leadership also wishes to replace the Trident SLBM platform, at a basic hardware cost of £35 billion or so, one can only surmise that they would be forced into further savage cuts in our armed forces personnel, with the army shrunk to 70 thousand full timers.

    It is already thought by military analysts that the UK could barely sustain 8,000 troops in combat. Any fewer and we might as well follow the prophet and beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks.

    The cost of the Trident successor programme is entirely disproportionate to our national defence budget.

    Kim Il Lunatic’s ravings are not a sound reason to pursue the successor programme; North Korea’s missiles couldn’t hit a barn door five feet away, they certainly don’t have the range to reach us and North Korea does not have the technology to miniaturize its nuclear warheads to fit on one of its barn door missing missiles, anyway. Furthermore they have for a large part been fizzles. Crud missiles, to match Saddam’s Scuds. And all that is bye the bye. There is no single reason for the North Korean Fat Boy to wish to nuke us even if he could. The man is nothing more than an attention seeking blowhard.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Apr '13 - 1:23am

    Some good points Paul, but in my view, if I was the US president and Britain got nuked, I would think twice about saving them from a second strike if they weren’t prepared to buy their own nuclear deterrent. I think it is the nation’s responsibility, you can’t just rely on your allies to save you if you aren’t prepared to save them if the same were to happen to them.

    I think savings such as reducing the number of submarines could be a good idea, but I still think we need second strike capability.

  • @jedibeeftrix – any acceptable political choice? Really? The removal of benefits for council-house dwellers with a spare bedroom polls well. Does that make it right? Polls also often show a majority of the public support reintroducing the death penalty. Does that make it right? The fact that this is one of the best reasons you can muster for keeping Trident shows the paucity of your arguments.

    You will also note that the Guardian article refers to plans drawn up in 1979, neatly proving the point I made in my original article. You say nuclear weapons are the best prevention for “20th century industrial warfare”.Exactly, Trident is a 20th century weapon designed for a 20th century conflict and is totally unsuitable and even unable to deal with the security threats of the 21st century. Countries don’t need to invade other countries anymore, they can just as effectively cripple them from a keyboard. The UK economy generates £121bn a year from the internet, and this number is only going to grow. Attack this and the UK will be devastated just as effectively as if you dropped a bomb on London (it’s also a lot cheaper, safer and easier to do)You can’t use a bomb to stop a river flooding, nor can you use one to stop cyber-warfare. The world has moved on. Conflict has changed and evolved. Trident has not, and that’s the fundamental problem.

    The same strategic distance that makes invading Australia and impossibility also makes invading the UK an impossibility. We are surrounded by allies locked into a strategic partnership (and before you shout Russia- PfP). Unless you’re real worry is Iceland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cod_Wars)…

  • Gareth Jones 7th Apr '13 - 12:15am

    Sorry to arrive late to the discussion – views summed up here:


    And here:


    A like for like replacement for Trident (actually the submarines which carry it) would be a waste of money better spent on conventional capabilities, as the dropping the bomb report points out but I would keep Trident in storage just in case. It would be a step down the ladder towards nuclear diarmement but with dual/triple role submarines one which can be reversed if the International situation changes.

    I have to echo Jedibeeftrix that any savings should be ring fenced for defence.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Apr '13 - 12:46am

    “A like for like replacement for Trident (actually the submarines which carry it) would be a waste of money better spent on conventional capabilities”

    Conventional weapons are no use against nuclear powers – we should go for global nuclear disarmament or none at all. I’m in favour of cost saving methods but not to appease the anti nuclear movement.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Apr '13 - 12:55am

    Could you imagine what would be happening right now if the US and the UK didn’t have nuclear weapons and North Korea had a more advanced system? They would be blackmailing us to high heaven, bullying us around the globe, knowing if push came to shove, they could take out a British town and not face any retaliation. If we failed to give in to their demands they would destroy another one.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Apr '13 - 1:00am

    People who question whether they would do it just have to think that North Korea is struggling to feed 1/3rd of its people, partly due to sanctions imposed by “the west”, when the choice comes to starve to death or take out the perceived enemy who bombed Korean towns in the 50’s, it is not entirely improbable that they would choose to finally bomb us back and get some food in return.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Apr '13 - 12:05pm

    Yes, I meant measures such as reducing the number of submarines and warheads, not dropping the deterrent altogether.

  • Paul McKeown 10th Apr '13 - 4:15pm

    What is particularly unreal about this North Korean argument is that the Trident D5, or its successor, would be a poor choice if we were to need to nuke the DPRK. The launch site would be somewhere in the North Atlantic or Arctic Oceans. Taking the D5’s over Russian and then Chinese airspace.

    It would be much safer simply to send the warhead by DHL (… or TNT …) in amongst Kim’s latest order of Playboy videos. The warhead would arrive and be detonated just as surely as if it were delivered by a ballistic missile. Actually it quite likely to result in a leadership decapitation strike, being delivered in person, unlike the D5 attack route.

    The crowd baying for the Trident successor program are rather like a bunch of spotty teenagers arguing over a set of Top Trumps. Look, it’s faster! It flies higher! Sub-orgiastic arousal, without any real sense of what the mission might be, nor how it might be best executed.

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