04/02/2016 Newsnight


A Newsnight special on Trident - is it the right way to keep us safe? Is it the only way? Dissussion with politicians, international experts and the military. With Kirsty Wark.

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Tonight, a special programme on Trident -


our nuclear weapon of choice.


We are fully loaded with all the key players, politicians,


international experts and the military.


It could cost as much as ?41 billion.


Labour is divided, the SNP is dead against it.


Trident is a weapon designed for a Cold War world.


In the? -- and who would attack us if we did not have it?


Time is of the essence the government says.


They need to get the renewal plan signed off this year,


so we, ahead of them, are debating all this tonight.


First here's our Diplomatic and Defence Editor Mark Urban.


Britain's Trident submarines are ageing. And the government wants to


replace them. That will cost ?31 billion, a massive amount for a


system capable of unleashing massive destruction. Obliterating cities


thousands of miles away in minutes. Trident Systems are the right choice


for the UK because of its own vulnerability, being under the


water. -- it's on in vulnerability. It is quiet, and continually in the


contact so it is ready to be used whenever it is required. Britain's


nuclear deterrent, for perhaps the next five years, blue steel is ready


and operational. In the 50s, Britain's ability to mount a nuclear


strike rescued with this bomber force. But despite spending on the


aircraft and missiles designed to beat enemy defences, the bombers


soon gave way to submarines. Impressive as the Vulcan may have


been, there was a recognition by the mid 1960s that it could no longer


play a key role in Britain's nuclear force. The feeling was that Soviet


air defences had become so dense around Moscow and other key targets


that he bomber would not be able to get through to them. And that


yardstick, the ability to hit key places in Russia must still remains


important today. Trident is a high-end system with a price to


match. Being submarine launched, it can lurk under the sea, invisible


and very hard to destroy. The missile's range is over 5000 miles,


and allows it to hit targets fire from the sea. And once it is


launched, it carries multiple warheads to the aiming point in less


than 20 minutes. Trident was chosen to meet the Moscow criterion, the


judgment central to British nuclear weapons decision-making for decades.


That is the ability to overwhelm the anti-missile defences around the


Russian capital. It is essential if Britain on its own is to be able to


threaten the target dearest to Russia, Moscow. It is about politics


more than it is about the military. Because it is about being close to


the Americans and the ability to strike at the very heart of the


Russian system. And we are talking about just Russia and just Moscow.


Abandon the requirement for continuous at sea deterrent, and you


can have three submarines instead of four. The saving would not be huge,


because most of the system would still have to be bought. But abandon


the Moscow criterion, and the choices widen further. You could,


for example, threaten St Petersburg, Murmansk or any other city on or


near a coast with submarine launched cruise missiles. So why not switch


the Trident border to a hunter killer submarine and armed them with


nuclear cruise missiles? The way the deterrent system operates is


different to a cruise missile. A cruise missile goes I and has a


limited range of 1000 miles. A deterrent rocket goes into space and


it has a completely different way of penetrating to hit targets. They are


completely different systems. You cannot compare them. The other


options discussed in recent years, the significant one is the idea of


arming jets with bombs or missiles. One of the options kicked around a


couple of years ago by the government in one of its papers was


reintroducing something like this. The WE177 free nuclear bomb taken


note of British service in 1998. It is certainly cheap, but its


effectiveness would have to be called into question if the aircraft


flying it had to go against any kind of sophisticated air defence system.


-- freefall nuclear bomb. With countries like Pakistan and Israel


owning sizeable nuclear countries like Pakistan and Israel


or others like North Korea, under dictators, Trident might have to be


credible in a variety of scenarios. But it is the Kremlin's recent


language, the development of new nuclear weapons, that keeps bringing


the calculus back to Russia. Russia is embarking on a substantial and


wide ranging modernisation programme that will replace its Soviet nuclear


systems, and as those programmes unfold, including new


intercontinental ballistic missiles, it is very difficult to avoid the


impression that the Russians are emphasising the role of nuclear


weapons in their national doctrine. But what of those emerging nuclear


powers? What possible missions might those forces have to perform at the


conventional level? Will the Trident replacement suck money out of the


rest of the fence? The judgment for Britain is therefore what


rest of the fence? The judgment for is willing to pay to forestall an


unlikely but potentially cataclysmic confrontation. In


unlikely but potentially cataclysmic much is it willing to underfund


unlikely but potentially cataclysmic ability to respond to more likely


emergencies. A little earlier I spoke


to the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, the man in charge


of delivering Trident's renewal I put it to him that Britain's


nuclear arsenal was an unnecessary Well, they are needed


now more than ever. Other states are trying to develop


nuclear weapons and there is always, thirdly, the risk that a state


developing nuclear weapons might give that nuclear weapon


to a terrorist organisation. So the end of the Cold War does not


mean the end of the need for the nuclear


deterrent, far from it. I want to come onto whether Trident


is fit for purpose more in a moment but let's just stick


with this idea that you have Germany doesn't have a nuclear


weapon, it's under the same But it's within the nuclear


umbrella of Nato. They live within the protection


of those countries. But France, the United States


and ourselves have nuclear weapons, the rest of Nato enjoys


the protection that that gives and, by the way, a number of their air


forces are committed and ready to be But if anyone attacked Germany


or threatened Germany, you are suggesting that Nato,


or particularly America, Yes, the point of the Nato Alliance


is we would all come to each other's aid in the event of an armed


attack on one another. But the same would go,


we don't have to have a Nato weapon to be protected on our


behalf by America, do we? No, but we do have nuclear weapons,


we can't disinvent them. We happen to have nuclear weapons


and by stopping having nuclear weapons we would be sending out


a signal to the rest of the world that we're not prepared to continue


as part of that nuclear Can you see any scenario,


if we didn't have nuclear weapons, that America


wouldn't come to our aid? Well, we would certainly be a much


weaker part of Nato if we decided Why should the United States defend


the rest of Europe when it is not So you think there is a scenario


in which a Britain without a nuclear weapon could be left


high and dry by America? We would certainly be


downgraded by America, America would be bound to ask


questions, why it should defend Europe if Europe is not


prepared to defend itself. Let's talk specifically


about Russia. Is Vladimir Putin in this


incarnation more dangerous Well, we have seen something


we didn't think, I didn't think We have seen him trying to change


international borders by force in Europe, by annexing the Crimea,


by his aggression in the Ukraine, we have seen intimidatory long-range


aviation around the edges of our airspace, around the edges


of the Baltics and Norway. And we have seen an increase


in submarine activity. And we see him


modernising his conventional weapons If he's modernising his nuclear


weapon, he's threatening all of us, frankly, and that is why we have


to keep the nuclear and conventional Let's talk about what kind


of nuclear weapon, do we need Do we need to continue thinking


about the Moscow criterion? We have looked into all of this


and nuclear weapons carried by airplanes, it makes them much


more overt and obvious, And, indeed, they


are more expensive. Moscow is a city


of 12 million souls. Well, I am not go into the targeting


of our nuclear weapons We're not aiming them


at Russian cities. But the whole purpose of having


nuclear weapons is that any of our adversaries,


whether they are rogue states or those countries that have nuclear


weapons at the moment, should be left unsure


as to the precise circumstances The problem is that people


in the United Kingdom think broadly We have the capability to hit a jeep


with huge precision and we've got But right now, with fewer


than 100 cruise missiles, we don't have the ability to mount


another conventional war, At the last strategic review


we were expanding our expeditionary We could certainly mount a Gulf War


operation again because we're We're increasing the size of them


and the power of them. Last year, the cost


of replacing the four subs rose It sits at ?31 billion


and suddenly there is another Suddenly we are at ?41 billion


to replace these submarines, does it matter what the cost is,


you are going to do it anyway? We need to get good value for money


for this, it is a big programme. Can you guarantee that that


would not go up from ?31 billion between now and putting this


all into practice or before Well, I hope we will not be


using the contingency and we're setting up a new delivery


body to deliver these submarines So it's ?41 billion, if you need it,


that is ring-fenced? Absolutely, it's part


of our equipment programme, it is built in to the Ministry


of Defence budget. For people who are hard pressed


and worried about hospitals, schools and whatever,


they want to know, presumably, if, indeed, they support this,


that the cost is not going to spiral and it is not going to be at


the expense of conventional forces? It's around 6% of the defence


budget in a normal year. The Defence Select Committee


says get on with it. If you don't make a decision


in 2016, what happens? We want Parliament to endorse


the decision to have a contingency deterrent and to deliver


it through four boats. We want that decision this year


so that Parliament is behind it. within weeks and by the numbers


the Government are expected It is official Labour policy


at the moment to support the government, but it is clearly


not that straightforward. Jeremy Corbyn's leadership has


thrown that policy into question. And Labour has historically had


difficulties with backing nuclear weapons, as our Political Editor,


David Grossman, reports. They are the focus of evil


in the modern world. Over the past seven decades


of nuclear drama, in the background and sometimes in secret,


it has often been the Labour Party building, updating and sustaining


our nuclear weapons. It has been pragmatic


and it needed to be. There have been times in recent


history where Labour has adopted, for example, a unilateral


disarmament policy and the voters have told us what they think


of that and rightly so. But I think for most of the period


where we have had nuclear weapons, the Labour Party has


supported the acquisition It is a defensive system


to protect our national security, And to be willing, as the last


Labour government was under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown,


to make effective steps to make sure our nuclear weapons


are the minimum we need Well before Blair, it was Attlee's


government who built the first In 1964, Harold Wilson could have


cancelled our first submarine system, Polaris,


before it was built. He hinted he might, but in secret


he gave the go-ahead. And his successor as Labour leader,


Jim Callaghan, fought the '79 election on a promise


not to renew Polaris. But away from the gaze


of the public and colleagues, He commissioned studies, a big,


secret study of the options On the grounds that whoever won


the '79 election would have And on his last morning


in Number 10 Downing Street, and I have seen the document,


he leaves written instructions for Mrs Thatcher to be given


the research and the R and the possibilities


and the options because there is a rule in Whitehall that


you don't see the papers But Jim said Mrs Thatcher


needs to see this. So, Jim had to keep it away


from the full Cabinet and even from his Cabinet


committee structure. Michael Foot, his deputy


in the Cabinet, wasn't Like Michael Foot, Jeremy Corbyn


favours Britain giving But the polls suggest voters don't


agree consistently by about two This could present Jeremy Corbyn


with two electoral problems. And secondly, it plays


into the hands of the Conservatives, who will simply use that to enforce


the broader narrative that That trust may not have been helped


by the Labour leader's recent nuclear submarines to preserve


jobs but not arm them It has also been suggested that


Labour may give MPs a free vote when the issue comes before


the Commons, possibly next month. People are still entitled to ask


of the Labour Party as the official opposition, what is your


official position? What is your policy


in relation to the retention And I think we have got


to have an answer to that question. conscience to decide whether we do


or don't retain nuclear weapons. We have to have a policy,


to be clear to the country about how we will defend this country


against nuclear threats and members and sell


unilateralism to voters. Joining me now is Emily Thornberry,


Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary and the person leading Labour's


review into the party's policy you are against Trident and you have


attended CMD rallies, while a Jeremy Corbyn bring you in and remove Maria


Eagle? You must ask Jeremy that. As to why he gave me that position. I


will begin my review by saying I am sceptical about Trident but


everything is on the table, nothing has been taken off and we will


follow the evidence. You are not simply sceptical, but have been


committed as a campaigner? I voted against Trident renewal in 2007 and


the main mother went to Greenham Common, I did not go with because I


thought nuclear weapons were necessary, I was frightened by the


Russians but I think things might have moved on. The review is what


will be the 21st century threats to Britain and how to keep written safe


and we need to ask honest questions and to do a proper review. It will


be about Trident at all of the threats. This review will not be


available and ready in time for the vote next month? It will be an


interim report? Yes. I launched a review within a few days of getting


the post, it is Labour Party policy to have a review and we're having a


review. If the vote takes place next month, presumably Labour will vote


with the government? We have to make that decision, we don't know what


the government wants us to vote on, they talk about this as a main gate


decision, the point of no return but the strategic defence review says


they will not have a main gate decision so they might be asking for


another vote in principle which is the same thing as in 2007. I think


they are just trying to kick the can find the road. If it is a main gate


vote, you don't know that for sure, but... They say it will not be. If


it was... It still could be, you would have to vote for it because


you are for replacing Vanguard submarines. On the submarine vote,


you will vote for it? The policy is to have a review at this stage. I


would need to get this straight, they have said they are not going to


have a main gate vote, they say it is too collocated, you want a vote


in principle. And they want to set up this arms body which will need


primary legislation. It is important we understand they are playing


games. You want the new submarines? We want the best thing for us to be


doing in terms of making Britain safe. What are you considering? All


of the options, we're also looking at the wide range of new threats,


such as the best way to respond to terrorism, failed states, cyber


attacks, there are many different things and be spending money in the


right way when it comes to conventional forces? We have 60


strikers at the moment and the electrics keep going. We can put a


destroyer in a dangerous place and it can stop going. The fundamental


decision for you will be whether or not you support the Trident


programme or not. Can you conceive of the outcome of any review which


says that you support replacement submarines for Trident and keeping


Trident? In your conscience, can you think that would be any outcome of


this? The Labour Party is split. I can say honestly this review is


being done in an open way, it is to be done whereby we look at all of


the evidence and follow the evidence. It is really important


that we have a proper base in this country to look at this really


important decision. Are you seriously suggesting that there


could be one option which I gather Jeremy Corbyn has floated that you


would have the submarines without any warheads? There are a number of


possibilities. Is that a go? I will not starting out -- I will not start


talking about hypotheticals, this will take as long as it takes. It


might be helpful to the Labour Party to do an interim report at the


beginning of the summer which will feed into party policy, which will


be at the conference in the autumn. Would you be disappointed if it was


renewed and how could you be Shadow Defence Secretary, standing up in


support of Trident if you personally disagree? We will make a decision


collectively on the evidence. I wonder why you are shying away from


saying this because you have been adamant in the past that your


anti-Trident and you now supposedly are free to discuss this and yet,


following your conscience, you could stand there as Shadow Defence


Secretary, possibly at the end of this review, and say, miraculously,


Trident is right. No, I'm a pragmatist and in the 1980s I was in


favour of nuclear deterrence and since then, in 2007 I voted against


because it seemed at that stage that it was out of date and it was a


20th-century weapon not necessary for the 21st century. But before we


make of the decision, it is quite right for the opposition to look at


all of the evidence and ask questions. If you look at the


opinion polls, I cannot see why Labour should terror itself apart


when this is not an issue, it will happen anyway if the government puts


it through unless it is some bold from the blue. Why choose this


subject? Is this ideology? Do you think it is appropriate for the


opposition to wade through a decision of ?41 billion at a time


when we don't have enough aircraft to be able to patrol our shores? We


can see nuclear submarines on the coast of Scotland and we don't have


the aircraft to follow them, we are making serious decisions about


conventional forces and we're not looking at whether or not this


replacement is the appropriate platform for the 21st century to


make us safe. People talk about an insurance policy at the death --


difficulty is, you can get caught in thinking that this is all we need


and in the 21st century there are some very big threats out there and


we need to make sure we are taking them seriously and making the


appropriate decisions. Thank you. With me to discuss


are Admiral Lord West, former First Sea Lord


and Security Minister. John Woodcock, Labour MP


for Barrow-in-Furness, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP


and vice-president for the Campaign And Brendan O'Hara, SNP


defence spokesperson. John Woodcock, what do you make of


what was just said? The one thing I think is clear that Labour members


are looking at this, they must understand this is not just the


Labour Party wading through a decision as if it has had no time to


think, the Labour government in 2007 started this programme. We then


looked at this extensively in opposition under Ed Miliband and at


the time he was sceptical and took him some time to actually recommit


to the policy of re-Newell with the submarine ballistic missile system.


There was an exhaustive process going through the national policy


forum. It has been done? And we have a manifesto commitment to do this


and that was significant. That policy was reaffirmed at the last


party conference and we will have a vote, let us hope, according to the


industrial timetable, as soon as possible and certainly this year and


myself and I think many of my Parliamentary colleagues are clear,


we will be supporting the government. Brendan O'Hara, the SNP


position is one that... You don't want to have Trident in Scotland and


yet you would be happy and content to be under the umbrella of Nato if


any attack came? Is that a preposterous position? Not at all.


If you look at Norway and Canada, who are members of Nato, full


members, they will not unlike nuclear weapons on their soil. What


we have said quite clearly is postindependence, we will have these


responsibilities, like any other country, we would be a member of


Nato and we would want to be a member of Nato but under strict


conditions that they are except we would not have nuclear weapons on


our soil. Norway has never had weapons, it is different to be a


member and then get rid of them, you would be the first country to do so.


And that would send out a powerful signal that we do not need nuclear


weapons, Scotland could use its influence for extreme goodbye


getting rid of them. There is no contradiction between wanting to


remain a member of Nato and not allowing nuclear weapons. Did you


say that they are morally indefensible? To have them? Yet you


want to snuggle in behind America with its protection? With the


nuclear Alliance. And you think the morally revolted -- repugnant? Were


pressing for nonproliferation and working towards... Norway made the


case for nonproliferation. Let me bring in Lord West. That would be


some towards disarmament. Lord West, you are the man in charge of Trident


from 2002. You have said that you you are the man in charge of Trident


think of us if we got rid of Trident? They


think of us if we got rid of made it very clear, it will


think of us if we got rid of extraordinary thing to do and we


would be the first country to ever give up nuclear weapons. We have


done more than any other country in the world to reduce our weapons


stocks, to just one system, and it has had zero impact on stopping new


nations getting them. The number of states are increasing. And therefore


I think you have far more never rich, we have the minimum credible


deterrent, you have more leverage in a multilateral


deterrent, you have more leverage in those weapons and say, let


deterrent, you have more leverage in how many we have got. If you are


designing a weapon right now, Trident would not be the weapon you


would design for this year? You are absolutely


would design for this year? You are other systems you talk


would design for this year? You are end up costing more, there would be


treaty issues and actually, yes, it has the Moscow materia,


treaty issues and actually, yes, it system but replacing something. It


just happens system but replacing something. It


else would cost more money. We have that fell in Britain is on


else would cost more money. We have and becoming more aggressive. How


would you In a system that sends out a signal


that other countries should acquire a weapon because we have one. -- I


would not be putting my faith in a system. And I certainly would not be


doing it when 135 countries are currently


doing it when 135 countries are nuclear treaty. To answer your


doing it when 135 countries are question, I would not be blocking


the question, I would not be blocking


to put in place a nuclear question, I would not be blocking


treaty. If we had that treaty, we question, I would not be blocking


could start focusing... But unlike Brenda's position,


could start focusing... But unlike that you do not want the umbrella of


Nato. You are happy to fight it out on your own? Let's challenge the


word deterrent. Let's call it weapons of mass destruction. We have


talked about the deterrent, but it is not a deterrent. It is a


talked about the deterrent, but it deterrent. You cannot prove


something. This is incredibly important. You would have to be able


to prove that by not doing something something else has happened and you


cannot prove that. Somebody who smokes 100 cigarettes a day, and


lives to an old age, smokes 100 cigarettes a day, and


that that smoker... That is exactly what he is saying. I have no


that that smoker... That is exactly if Japan had been able to drop


atomic weapons. The arrogance of people who think they can say in the


next 50 years that there will not be a country or somebody, a country


that might threaten dropping a nuclear weapons. May I finish, the


only thing you can be sure of is that if you have the ability to


destroy the country that wants to bomb you, they will not drop it.


Let's be honest, Trident is not a defensive weapon. It is a political


weapon. It is there to keep the United Kingdom on the top table of


the United Nations. It is a deterrent. Tony Blair is not someone


I caught very often in these matters but he is in his memoirs said they


looked at Trident and said as a military weapon it was useless but


its cost was astronomical. I am glad to see I do not agree with


everything Tony Blair says. But they would not do it. Is it really a


deterrent? There is no certainty in any of this. Would we be safer with


Russia's proliferation with other countries acquiring the bomb if we


were to get rid of it? I think it is hard to... On that point. On the


Tony Blair point, very briefly. Tony has changed his mind on this since


he wrote those memoirs. Tony Blair said it would be a downgrading of


Britain's status as a nation. The rise of Russia has made him change


his mind. But do you buy the argument that, why should we be


stopping other countries having nuclear weapons if we have them


ourselves? We are not superior, it is because one is where one is. You


are great you are. And you say, actually, if I were Germany, for


example, to try to actually get a sensible nuclear weapons system, it


would be a cost way beyond anything you could imagine. Brazil got rid of


nuclear weapons. You can do it if the political will is there. Do you


justify... In the next 50 years, none of us can predict, nobody can


predict and the people who say they can predict are talking nonsense. I


believe that this is an ultimate weight... Chatham House, a couple of


years ago, they reported that since 1962 there have been 13 near misses


because of human error, technological error. First of all,


the rid the risk of accidents and secondly, underwater drones. --


there is the risk of accidents. The idea that these Trident nuclear


weapons are going to be safe, it is absolutely rubbish. Everything that


goes into Trident comes out of a conventional defence system. Our


conventional defences are being sacrificed at the altar of Trident.


Anyone who says that is deluded. They honestly think in Whitehall, if


they think the money from Trident will go into conventional defence


they are deluding themselves. The Treasury have made it clear that


will not happen. In the first four years, if you got rid of it, it


would cost extra money. But on a single one of those four submarines,


the missiles from that would kill 10 million civilians and Castor that


area of the planet into a nuclear winter. Are we really thinking that


is the best way in the 21st century to try to resolve our affairs.


Whatever the decision is that is taken, it will not be taken in a


vacuum. Our Nato allies have skin


in the game, and as Michael Fallon said, we face a resurgent,


aggressive Russia whose roar Without Britain, France alone


in Europe would bear The French stockpile is 50% bigger


than Britain's and whereas Britain now only has the Trident system,


France keeps air launch nuclear Well, talk to decision makers


from other Nato countries and they're not that keen


on Britain renouncing Even France in the recent past has


shown interest in joint submarine patrol plans, or developing new air


launch weapons with the UK. Leaders in Germany or the countries


of Eastern Europe tend to give strong support to the idea


of Britain retaining a central role in European defence,


with nuclear weapons. And recent examples of nuclear


sabre-rattling by President Putin have just confirmed


them in that view. TRANSLATION: This year our nuclear


forces will get more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic


missiles which are capable of overcoming any anti-missile


systems, even the most technically Underlying much of this debate


is an uncertainty in Europe as to whether they could really


stand up to their Easter neighbour, and whether the United States might


abandon them in an hour of crisis. Joining me now are Radoslaw


Sikorski, former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs in Donald Tusk's


cabinet, and before that, Major General Patrick Cordingley,


commander of the Seventh Armoured Brigade of UK troops in the first


Gulf War. And Professor Malcolm Chalmers,


Deputy Director-General of the Royal United Services


Institute. And down the line from Florida


is Nancy Soderberg, former US Ambassador to the United Nations


and foreign policy advisor Good evening to you all. It is a


Cold War weapon for a Cold War that does not exist any more. Well, I am


glad you mentioned that because when I was the defence minister, I


declassified some of our Polish Warsaw Pact era exercise maps. And


they envisaged a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe, and


Soviet nuclear strikes on Germany, Denmark, Holland. But significantly,


not on France and not on the UK. Why do you think that was? So they would


not think that actually we would come to their aid? I think the


Soviets made a calculation which I think is confirmed by what has


happened ever since. Countries have given up nuclear weapons. South


Africa was mentioned, and also, most significantly, Ukraine. Ukraine gave


up the third largest nuclear stockpile in the world in exchange


for guarantees of its territorial integrity and we know what happened.


But you talk about the classifying documents from the Warsaw Pact era.


What do you think now, do you think Vladimir Putin, who we know is


beefing up his nuclear arsenal, is he a threat to the West? Russia has


a doctrine of the first use of nuclear weapons from a time when


they felt conventionally weaker. And the exercise using battlefield


weapons in a confrontation with Nato. In 2009, there was an exercise


and in 2013. Vladimir Putin talks about using nuclear weapons. If he


talks about it, it means he thinks about it. Nancy Soderberg, do you


agree with that chilling statement, that Vladimir Putin is thinking


about nuclear weapons and using them, and that he will more likely


use them against us if we do not have our own Trident missiles? First


of all, I think you have to recognise that we all have plans to


use nuclear weapons. I can conceive of no conceivable realistic


situation in which they would use them. Our intelligence says that the


threat from a nuclear weapon would be a terrorist getting components.


That argument is that there is less nuclear material out there, that


that is better. In the US, we have been trying to reduce our numbers


and the debate in Britain about the Trident submarine is not likely to


change the politics. The politics are not there for it yet, but in


terms of the longer term, the US has a vibrant nuclear umbrella over


Europe and the Trident missile serves as a symbolic but not


militarily significant addition to that. It is interesting that it is


symbolic. Could we rely on the US to the same extent that we do now if we


did not have Trident? Absolutely. Britain is not going to get rid of


its Trident submarines any time soon. They will be upgraded but you


have to recognise that only one of them is circulating at any time and


I think there is a total of 16 weapons on there. It is not a


massive retaliatory force. The larger picture here is that the


world is moving towards reducing its nuclear weapons. The more countries


that have nuclear weapons, the harder it is to convince Iran that


it does not need one. Right now, there are nine and Iran might be the


10th if the nuclear deal falls apart. Over time, Britain, maybe not


in this cycle but maybe the next ten or 20 years, I think these weapons


will be phased out. The is a lively debate about tactical nuclear


weapons in the United States as well. Nancy Soderberg's view is that


our contribution to the arsenal is symbolic rather than anything else


and it will be phased out and actually America would still come to


our aid if we did not have weapons of mass destruction. I think it is


most unlikely that the UK arsenal would be phased out except in the


context of multilateral disarmament. The idea we would have done that


unilaterally, it would be a radical step. I would agree. No one is


talking about doing it unilaterally. It would have to be negotiated over


time. If we were to give up our weapons, we would be the first


country in the world to give up our weapons. We know about Brazil and


South Africa and Ukraine. What impact would that have on our


standing in the world? Could come back to whether is symbolic? Lets a


that deterrent works. I would not necessarily agree but let's assure


them that it has. Why? necessarily agree but let's assure


1500 ready nuclear warheads. necessarily agree but let's assure


those, it would have no effect on the deterrent against Russia. Russia


would still be deterred. I believe in Nato, and I think we are


perfectly safe under the American umbrella. That is the standpoint I


come from. And on that basis, you think we should scrap it?


come from. And on that basis, you America wants us to do, it once


asked to up our America wants us to do, it once


weapons. At the moment, we are really going very close to actually


weapons. At the moment, we are this weapon? The more important


question to ask is if the UK, having been involved in this business for


more than 60 years, since the Manhattan Project in the 40s, was to


know decides to get rid of the system, firstly people would ask, in


Russia and America or wherever, why have we made such a radical change


in our policy? And those in this country most opposed to nuclear


weapons are not doing it because they are particularly trusting of


the Americans or because they want to up our


the Americans or because they want they are doing it primarily


the Americans or because they want these weapons are morally repugnant.


But I wonder why we would still have, or if we would indeed have a


permanent seat at have, or if we would indeed have a


Council if we give up our nuclear weapons? Our power in the world


would be diminished, our standing would be diminished. Why should we


have a permanent seat? If the United Nations and the Security Council


were designed today, the membership would be different. The European


Union would perhaps be entitled to a seat. But not its member states. It


would certainly have some other big countries like India and others.


Yes, but that is history. What do you make of this idea that what the


Americans want us to do is up our conventional warfare? That they will


take care of the nuclear, but they want Britain to fight a more


conventional war? That is like asking yourself whether you need a


tank or a plane. You need both. We need to deter potential enemies at


all stages and all levels. Can I come in on the UN Security Council?


We became a founder member before we had nuclear weapons and there are


multiple reasons why we can justify having a seat. We have the second


largest aid budget in the world, the fourth-largest defence budget, maybe


the sixth or seventh largest economy and one of two nuclear members.


If somebody does give up nuclear weapons, it sends an enormous


message to everybody that we are serious about the nonproliferation


Treaty and why not make an example? To the world? What do you think that


the response from Vladimir Putin would be if Britain gave up nuclear


weapons? Would he be emboldened? That we would be more vulnerable? I


do not think there is any chance that even if he keeps his tyrannical


slide, he will seriously contemplate using nuclear weapons in Europe,


there is no reason, no threat, and I go back to the earlier point on the


conventional side, it is not like having one weapon or another, we


need help with writing Isis and we need more British, our best partners


in the battlefield, we need more help on the current fight with Isis,


the Air Force, the intelligence and the drones, fighting the threat of


terrorism and so I think the debate about whether to get rid of


Britain's nuclear weapons will not be a huge shock outside of Britain,


to be quite honest. Nobody is saying anybody will do any of this


unilaterally, least of all the French, but increasingly the threat


is, the terrorists get a hold of the Lewis betrayals and the answer is,


yes. The less nuclear material that is out there, that would be a very


powerful signal to move forward. Britain is not there right now, it


is debating it. James O'Brien will be


here tomorrow night.


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