Sunday, 17 July 2016

Trident financial and political costs overlooked by US military lobby‏

Unpublished letter to The Times

Your 22 two eminent US specialists on defence and security matters,  many writing with a  wealth of hands-on experience of managing  a vast nuclear weapons arsenal, are of course entitled to share their particular views on the merits of  UK possession of nuclear weapons in your columns ("Nuclear powers," letter, July 15;
However, I feel the counter position also deserves space in your columns.

The current defence secretary Michael Fallon, newly re-appointed by the  Prime Minister,  is on the record as stating

" a responsible nuclear weapon state and party to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) the UK remains committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.” Written Statement made by: Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon) on 20 January 2015) ( 

Mr Fallon de-facto repeated this position in his statement to Parliament on the outcome of the NATO Warsaw Summit  on Monday this  week, when he asserted :
 "We remain, in principle, committed to the search for a world without nuclear weapons."

On Monday July 18 the Government has called a debate and vote on the future of Trident and its replacement. For Labour MPs it will be the first opportunity they have to  behave as a proper opposition the Conservative Government and vote against  Trident,  and the  absurd  proposal at a time of pressure on the public purse  that Parliament should sanction the commitment of  £205,000,000,000 (£205 billion) - covering construction, lifetime operation and dismantling on decommissioning - of taxpayers' money  to a nuclear weapons  system which, in any case,  is highly likely to be made illegal when the United Nations General Assembly in New York adopts a motion  in September for a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which has been under negotiation at the UN in Geneva for several months this year? ( 
What an odd way to help the poor, the unemployed, the NHS and to reverse underinvestment in infrastructure voting £205 billion of taxpayers’ money for Trident replacement would be.  Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, contenders for the Labour Party leadership against Jeremy Corbyn ( who opposes Trident renewal), who are both publicly committed to such obscene  expenditure, should consider how this will look to those voters whose support they seek both in the Labour Party leadership contest and possibly in a future general election.
Meanwhile, I note your collective American correspondents  make no mention of the astronomical costs to British taxpayers of their support for British nuclear weapons, which is very convenient for them; but not for British taxpayers.
The Times, letters, 15 July 2016
Sir, As parliament votes on the UK’s future nuclear submarine programme, we want to state strongly that the US believes the UK should maintain an independent nuclear deterrent.
At present Russia is investing heavily to expand its nuclear forces, has an aggressive nuclear doctrine and is rattling its nuclear sabre.
As long as such weapons exist, the only way to deter their use is to have a credible nuclear deterrent.
In this regard, an independent British deterrent guarantees more than just Britain’s security. Precisely because it is operationally independent, the British deterrent confronts any potential adversaries with a second centre of nuclear decision-making, thereby ensuring they cannot possibly believe they could avoid retaliation in times of crisis.
Our own experience for over 50 years makes clear that ballistic missile submarines remain the cornerstone of a nuclear deterrent. Just as we support US strategic force modernisation, so too do we endorse continued UK investment in deterrence.
The combined deterrent forces of the US and UK make the horrific possibility of nuclear conflict considerably less likely. This is why every US Administration since 1958 has valued the UK’s independent deterrent, and we urge the UK to continue its vital contribution to transatlantic security.
Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary, US Department of State; Richard Danzig, former secretary of the Navy; Brent Scowcroft, assistant for national security affairs to Gerald Ford and George HW Bush; Walter Slocombe, former under secretary of defense for policy; General Larry Welch, former chief of staff USAF, and former commander-in-chief, Strategic Air Command; Linton Brooks, former administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration; Admiral Henry Chiles, US Navy, former commander, US Strategic Command; General Kevin Chilton USAF, former commander, US Strategic Command; Admiral Kirk Donald US Navy, former director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion; Eric Edelman, former under secretary of defense for policy; Admiral James Ellis US Navy, former commander, US Strategic Command; Dr John R Harvey, former principal deputy assistant secretary, US Department of Defense; Ambassador Robert Joseph, former under secretary for international security affairs, US Department of State; General C Robert Kehler USAF, former commander, US Strategic Command; Franklin Kramer, former assistant secretary of defense; Admiral Richard Mies US Navy, former commander, US Strategic Command; Franklin Miller, former special assistant to the president of the United States; James Miller, former under secretary of defense for policy; Dr Keith Payne, former deputy assistant secretary, US Department of Defense; Dr Bradley Roberts, former deputy assistant secretary, US Department of Defense; Dr Kori Schake, former deputy director, policy planning, US Department of State; David Shedd, former acting director, US Defense Intelligence Agency

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