Submitted by George Callaghan…
The United Kingdom developed nuclear arms in 1952. Despite the British having done most of the early work on the US nuclear weapons program the US refused to share its nuclear technology with the United Kingdom. The UK beggared itself to have nuclear arms.
Nuclear weapons have only been used by one country. The United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was despite Japan already being on its last legs. Moreover, neither of these cities was of much military significance. If the Allies had agreed to let Nippon retain the emperor then the Japanese would have already surrendered by that point. Once Japan capitulated the United State permitted Hirohito to retain his throne anyway. The Hitler of Asia got off scot free while his underlings were hanged. This was because Hirohito’s collaboration with the US make the American occupation a very easy task.
What is the purpose of the UK possessing nuclear weapons? Thatcher was an outspoken advocate for a nuclear defence policy. She spoke of its deterrent effect. A would be aggressor will not nuke the United Kingdom because he knows his country would then be incinerated by British nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons are of questionable legality. They make no distinction between civilians and military personnel. They would take out a whole conurbation. They are therefore indiscriminate.
The British nuclear weapons program is ruinously expensive. The British Army is smaller now than at any time since the mid-18th century. This is despite the UK’s population being almost ten times higher than in the mid-18th century. Why on earth does the UK spend a fortune on nuclear arms when it has such a puny army? The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have suffered severe cutbacks.
The idea of having nuclear arms is not to use them. On the other hand, the army, navy and RAF are used frequently. Would it not be more sensible to beef up conventional armed forces?
Despite the swinging cuts to the mainstream defence budget money is always found for the UK’s nuclear arsenal. The British nuclear capability is undergoing an upgrade. The nuclear triad consists of nuclear warheads that can be dropped from planes, fired from submarines or launched by rocket. There are four nuclear submarines and at least one of them is on patrol at any one time. Therefore, the UK has a continuous ‘at sea’ nuclear weapons presence. The idea being that other countries will know that they could be struck at any time.
As conventional forces have been cut to the bone surely the UK should look at its least useful defence capability. The nuclear capability uses up a huge chunk of the defence budget. If nukes were axed and the money was spent on conventional forces this would give the UK a defence capability that could actually be used. It would also mean more jobs. People would acquire skills in the forces that could be transferred to other areas. The United Kingdom should stop beggaring itself for something that will never be used.
Apart from the armed forces there are myriad other things that the money could be spent on rather than defence. The NHS, education, a tax cut, paying off the national debt, more foreign aid, pensions or green energy: the list is endless. Nuclear arms is about the worst thing to spend on. The majority of the population agree. But you will not get Parliament voting that way. How democratic is the UK when the politicians so often go against public opinion?
Many soldiers, sailors and air force personnel agree. The UK should move to a non-nuclear defence policy. Lord Mountbatten advocated this decades ago.
Nuclear arms are immoral. They would fry clothes into skin. Consider the annihilation of an entire city. It is so horrific as to be downright evil.
But I hear you say – how else can we prevent other countries from nuking us? Good question. There are 193 sovereign states in the world. 185 of them do not have nuclear weapons. How many of them have been nuked? One. That is right. 1/185 is the chance. Then again since 1945 it is 0/185. Somehow all the others have managed not to be nuked even without nuclear arms. Since the 1990s Kazakhstan, Ukraine and South Africa have given up nuclear weapons. No one has nuked them.
But what if a country with a monstrous regime blackmailed us into surrendering or else they would nuke us? In that case I would surrender. A nuclear war would wipe out the human race. Which is worse: tyranny or the deaths of 7 000 000 000 people? Anyway it is not as though you cannot be tyrannized by your own government even if you have nukes.
The United Kingdom and other nuclear weapons states consider it entirely acceptable for them to possess nuclear arms. But they will not tolerate another country joining the club. Pull up the ladder behind you! Why should other countries not have them? Where is the logic or fairness in that. We need nukes for our defence. But the Iranians do not? How else can they discourage a nuclear weapons country from attacking them with nukes? The record of nuclear weapons states on human rights and non-aggression is not perfect I think you might agree! Look at the US, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan. None of them are famous for human rights, non-intervention in other countries or indeed honesty.
Even if another country did launch nuclear weapons at the United Kingdom by then it is too late. Should one retaliate? Of course not! If the UK is going to be obliterated it does no good to wipe out the other country. All those tens of millions of people will die to no avail.
The point of having nuclear weapons is partly to be in the big league of world powers. Is it worth it?