Virtually all of the people in the world today have lived at a time when the most devastating of any weapon of mass destruction, possibly the only real weapon of mass destruction, has been in the hands of much of humanity. The nuclear bomb, now fashionably known as a nuclear deterrent, is a weapon that many countries may deploy if they so choose. Its power lies not just in the destruction it can cause but in the radiation that the explosion of a nuclear bomb releases.
It was the deterrent of the United States of America and the United Kingdom; France and the Soviet Union also embraced the nuclear bomb, as have many other countries. Some nations do so secretly; others are accused of having a nuclear weapons programme and others are experimenting with nuclear bomb technology secretly.
It is hard to see, in the modern world, when a nuclear bomb can be used. The threats that face nations are not so much from other nations but from revolutionaries, insurgents and those who wish to bully nations by terrorism. I cannot see that a nuclear deterrent has any use in the world today, especially for a small nation like the United Kingdom.
Yet the United Kingdom deploys submarines in a way that enables it to have at least one nuclear armed submarine at sea, ready to strike, for twenty four hours on every day of the year. This is a huge financial burden, in maintenance terms, and an even larger financial burden on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom, when the time comes to replace or change the nuclear arsenal.
Such a time is now.
Replacement of the UK’s trident missiles will cost at least 20 billion pounds. The United Kingdom has three choices: it can replace the whole nuclear system and maintain a continuous nuclear weapon deterrent, ready to be deployed at any time; it can move to a part time nuclear deterrent, using existing weapons to maintain some nuclear weapon capability, or it can scrap the whole nuclear deterrent and revert to other ways of protecting its citizens.
The United Kingdom is a small nation on the western edge of one of the most politically stable places in the region. I cannot imagine any of our neighbours wishing to invade us; most of them do not have much in the way of armed forces and few have nuclear capability. I cannot see the point of another member of the nuclear club, such as Russia or Pakistan or Israel finding any need to try and take over or threaten the United Kingdom. Indeed, the more I think about it the more I find that there is no reason for the United Kingdom to have a nuclear deterrent of any kind.
I am sure that the taxpayers of the United Kingdom can find a better use for 20 billion pounds. It is time for Poseidon to give up his trident.