Do We Need More Bombs?

Church leaders across seven U.K. denominations have today made the following statement following the publication of the Government’s integrated review of foreign and defence policies:

“The Government’s decision in the integrated review of defence, security and foreign policy to increase the number of Trident nuclear warheads the UK can stockpile by more than forty per cent is a retrograde step that will not make any of us safer.

“Our Trident submarines already carry warheads that in total have an explosive yield equivalent to hundreds of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima. It is immoral that the UK government is committing resources, which could be spent on the common good of our society, to stockpiling even more.

“Over the last fifty years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has restricted the increase in the number of nuclear weapons worldwide as well as the number of new nuclear-armed states. This announcement puts those gains in jeopardy and weakens collective action on non-proliferation. Progress on reducing the threat from nuclear weapons will come through dialogue, diplomacy and principled action. The Government’s announcement today will complicate rather than aid this process.“

The entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is an encouraging development. As people of faith, we join with millions across the world who are working towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals. Living up to our responsibilities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty would be a step towards realising that vision. We believe that ‘Global Britain’ should strive for peaceful and cooperative international relationships, and joint endeavour on climate change, global poverty and other challenges. This announcement takes us in a worrying and wholly wrong direction.”

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When I was young I was an ardent ban-the-bomber. With age and hindsight, I am prepared to at least consider the possibility that mutually assured destruction made a third world war during the twentieth century extremely unlikely. I even think that, as the U.K. has a nuclear capability, we might as well keep it as it is a cost-effective deterrent against actual invasion. However, we only need four warheads; one pointing at Russia, one at China, one at the U.S.A. and one kept in reserve just in case the French and Germans slip from petulance over Brexit into outright aggression.


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