Trident Nuclear Deterrent – The Great Confidence Trick Played On the UK Public – Trident is the Most Expensive Bluff in History



The Chilcot Inquiry Report Won’t Reveal The Real Reason Why The UK Invaded Iraq With The USA

“Did Britain have to invade Iraq? No, but if we had not, when the Mutual Defence Agreement came up for renewal in 2004 would John Bolton have recommended to President George Bush that Britain was worthy of another ten years of nuclear supplies “in light of our previous close co-operation”?




2006: Trident: We’ve Been Conned Again

The independent British nuclear deterrent is a myth – whatever else it may be, it is not independent. That reality, laid bare as never before in US presidential directives published on our website, renders meaningless the government’s suggestion that it is time to renew “our” nuclear arsenal.

For decades, American presidents have been authorising US weapons-makers to ship vital bomb components to Britain. George Bush Sr was one of them: in July 1991, for example, he signed a five-year directive ordering the United States department of energy to “produce additional nuclear weapons parts as necessary for transfer to the United Kingdom”.

These are the final pieces in a jigsaw which exposes simple facts that British leaders have long known but a generation of Thatcherite consensus has obscured: we cannot and do not make our own nuclear weapons; we are not a true nuclear power; we are mere clients of the US.

Our present Trident submarine-launched nuclear missile system reaches the end of its shelf-life in the 2020s and we are told that, if it is to be replaced, work has to start soon. As the debate begins, supporters of a new generation of British weapons of mass destruction say we must have a bomb of our own so that we will always be equipped to face a crisis such as that of 1940. “Something nasty may turn up,” is their bottom line.


We now know, however, that British weapons are so dependent on the US that this 1940 argument is a nonsense. In that year, we stood alone and the United States remained neutral. We would not have had a bomb in our arsenal because the Americans would have refused to help us make it, and would certainly not have given us one there and then. The truth behind the pro-renewal argument is that our defence in any future 1940 scenario depends not on us having a nuclear deterrent with a Union Jack on it, but on us having the US on our side.

The declassified National Security directives uncovered in the archives of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr leave no doubt about this dependency. The most recent available instruction is Bush’s, quoted above, but the names of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski appear on earlier versions of this annual update to the US nuclear stockpile plan.

Governments here, however, have always stressed that the bombs on top of the Trident missiles were truly British – their answer to the criticism that Trident, as Denis Healey once put it, was a “rent-a-rocket, Moss Bros missile”. Yet even when Healey spoke, more than 20 years ago, there was no shortage of evidence to contradict the official line. The Conservative government itself had to admit that there were never any “identifiably British” Trident missiles in the US navy store where British submarines loaded up. The words “Royal Navy” were only painted on the missiles for test-firing, to make good publicity pictures.

Documents obtained by the Natural Resources Defence Council, a non-governmental organisation in the US, show that for 45 years the UK has been given blueprints of many US weapons to help build bombs for Royal Navy missile submarines and RAF bombers. For decades, too, all Brit-ish nuclear testing was done in the US, and access to the Nevada test site is still essential to the UK programme.

Today the factory at Aldermaston in Berkshire that makes the bombs – and uses US equipment to do so – is actually owned by the Lockheed Martin Corporation of Bethesda, Maryland, while the submarine maintenance base in Plymouth is largely the property of Dick Cheney’s old firm, Halliburton.

murphy nuc

The transatlantic links date back at least to 1958, when a “mutual defence agreement” between Dwight Eisenhower and Harold Macmillan allowed the US to send Britain everything except complete nuclear weapons. Even in the years 1946 to 1958, when US nuclear support for Britain was supposedly cut off by Congress, the British were trading uranium ore for details of how to build factories to make nuclear weapons.

In 1962, as Macmillan set off to accept John F Kennedy’s offer of Polaris missiles, the chief of Britain’s nuclear bomber force wrote that the prime minister was travelling to “defend a myth”. Macmillan’s Sir Humphrey, Robert Scott, wrote that the deal would put Britain in America’s pocket for a decade. His words were echoed four decades later when Admiral Raymond Lygo, the former head of nuclear programmes for the Royal Navy and chairman of British Aerospace, explained last year that any successor to Trident would “continue to tie the UK to US policy”.

This past week, along with other experts, I gave evidence to the Commons defence committee on the issue of replacing Trident. I heard Sir Michael Quinlan, now retired from the civil service but widely regarded as the doyen of British nuclear strategists, say there were two issues at stake: independence of procurement and independence of operation. He argued that, although we had no independence of procurement, we could use the weapons independently.

This is moving the goalposts. For generations governments have tried to prevent the public knowing how much nuclear weapons kit the UK gets from the US, so that they could sustain the myth that our deterrent was home-made. Now, suddenly, it doesn’t matter if the missiles aren’t British. Take a step back. Imagine for a moment that France imported its nuclear missiles from China. Who would then believe in French independence?

So, what about independence of operation? Could Britain fire Trident if the US objected? In 1962 the then US defence secretary, Robert McNamara, said that the British nuclear bomber force did not operate independently. Writing in 1980, Air Vice-Marshal Stewart Menaul said it definitely could not be used without US authorisation. Today former naval officers say it would be extremely difficult. The many computer software programs, the fuse, the trigger, the guidance system as well as the missiles are all made in America.

Let us say that Britain wanted to fire Trident and the United States opposed this. What would happen? For one, the entire US navy would be deployed to hunt down Red-White-and-Blue October; it would know roughly where to look, starting from the last position notified to the US and Nato while on normal patrol. Meanwhile, the prime minister would be trying to find a radio that was not jammed, hoping that none of the software had a worm and that the US navy wouldn’t shoot the missiles down with either its Aegis anti-missile system or the self-destruct radio signal that is used when missiles are test-fired.


From the moment of a breach with Washington, moreover, every Trident submarine sailing down the Clyde would find a waiting US escort. In months the software would be out of date, Lockheed Martin and Halliburton would fly home, taking much equipment with them, and no spare parts would be available. As Quinlan put it: “We would be in shtook.”

The British people believe that an independent bomb exists. They don’t know that this insurance policy is valid only when Washington feels like it. And the premiums are high: in return for this dodgy insurance, Britain must follow the US line.

Did Britain have to invade Iraq? No, but if we had not, when the Mutual Defence Agreement came up for renewal in 2004 would John Bolton have recommended to his president that Britain was worthy of another ten years of nuclear supplies “in light of our previous close co-operation”?

Forty years ago Peter Cook lampooned Macmillan’s pretence at an independent bomb. Harold Wilson argued before, during and after he left office that Britain’s nuclear weapons were not independent. Recently Robin Cook, previewing my own work in what was his last article, affirmed that all aspects of Trident are dependent upon the US. Yet academics, journalists and politicians still use the words “independent nuclear deterrent” with gravitas rather than derision.

Confidence tricks work best on people who want to believe in them, and the British elite and much of the public are desperate to believe that Britain’s bomb gives them great-power status. Instead Britain gets the worst of all worlds: weapons that can’t be used when the chips are down and a US-led policy that rejects disarmament in favour of pre-emptive war. And now, with Trident becoming obsolete, the government wants to renew the deal – behind the old, dishonest mask of independent deterrence.

At the Commons defence hearing, MPs voiced the opinion that voters wanted a British bomb for the simple reason that the French had one. Informed that ever since Charles de Gaulle the French have regarded Britain as a US vassal because of our nuclear dependence, they were unmoved. The voters would not see it that way, protested one MP. Well, perhaps it is time the voters were told the truth.

2005: The Late Robin Cook MP – A Man Of Honour – Replacing Trident Is Against Our National Interests And Our International Obligations

In an editorial written just before his death in July 2005, Robin Cook, who had served previously as Blair’s foreign secretary, raised questions about the expensive building and upgrading of facilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, to which the government committed substantial additional funds well before any debate or decision on the future of British nuclear weapons. He said, “Down at Aldermaston they are spending hundreds of millions of pounds of your money on a refit of the production line for nuclear warheads. We are assured this does not mean that any decision has been made to replace the Trident nuclear system. Dear me no, the investment is merely intended to keep open our options.” The full article:

Down at Aldermaston they are spending hundreds of millions of pounds of your money on a refit of the production line for nuclear warheads. We are assured this does not mean that any decision has been made to replace the Trident nuclear system. Dear me no, the investment is merely intended to keep open our options.

If we want to exercise the option of producing more weapons, we are told we must make up our minds in this parliament. This is not because Trident is in imminent danger of going out of service. The British submarines can keep on diving and surfacing for another two decades. The problem is that it will take that long to order, build and commission another expensive fleet to replace them.

This is an excellent opportunity for Tony Blair to prove that he is a real moderniser. It is a fixed pole of his political pitch that he represents a clean break from old Labour. It was the Wilson government of the 60s that built, launched and named the Polaris fleet. It was Jim Callaghan who first struck the Trident deal with President Carter, eccentrically in a beach hut on Guadeloupe. There could not be a more convincing way for Tony Blair to break from the past and to demonstrate that he is a true moderniser than by making the case that nuclear weapons now have no relevance to Britain’s defences in the modern world.



The justification for both Polaris and Trident was that we faced in the Soviet Union a great, hostile bear bristling with nuclear claws. The missiles were put on submarines precisely because the ocean bed was the only place they could hide from Russian firepower. But those are calculations from a long-vanished era. The Soviet Union has disintegrated, its satellites are our allies in the European Union, and the west is now sinking large funds into helping Russia to defuse and dismantle the warheads that we once feared.

No other credible nuclear threat has stepped forward to replace the Soviet Union as a rationale for the British nuclear weapons system. To be sure, two or three other nations have emerged with a crude nuclear capability, but none of them has developed the capacity or the motivation to attack Britain.

It is not easy to see what practical return Britain ever got out of the extravagant sums we invested in our nuclear systems. None of our wars was ever won by them and none of the enemies we fought was deterred by them. General Galtieri was not deterred from seizing the Falklands, although Britain possessed the nuclear bomb and Argentina did not. But the collapse of the cold war has removed even the theoretical justification for our possessing strategic nuclear weapons.

However, the spirit of the cold war lives on in the minds of those who cannot let go of fear and who need an enemy to buttress their own identity. Hence the vacuum left by the cold war has been filled by George Bush’s global war on terror. It is tragically true that terrorism, partly as a result, is now a worse threat than ever before.

But nuclear weapons are hopelessly irrelevant to that terrorist threat. The elegant theories of deterrence all appear beside the point in the face of a suicide bomber who actively courts martyrdom. And if we ever were deluded enough to wreak our revenge by unleashing a latter-day Hiroshima on a Muslim city, we would incite fanatical terrorism against ourselves for a generation.

Investment in a new strategic nuclear system would be worse than an irrelevance. It would be an extravagant diversion of resources from priorities more relevant to combating terrorism. Trident cost us more than £12.5bn – roughly half the whole defence budget for a year. Even if its successor did not have a higher price tag, it could not be bought without cutting back on the conventional capacity of our armed forces. It will be more difficult this time to find the funds for a new nuclear weapons system without those cuts being painful, because the defence budget as a percentage of GDP is now much less than the level that accommodated the Polaris and Trident programmes.


Our army is already shedding both troops and tanks. Yet Britain’s most valuable role in global stability is the professional, experienced contribution of our soldiers to peacekeeping missions, which earns us much more goodwill round the world than our nuclear submarines prowling the seas. The world would be less stable and Britain would be less secure if we were to trade in even more of those army units for son-of-Trident. It is not just peaceniks who would oppose such a choice. I suspect a clear majority of the officer corps would vote against diverting the defence budget into another generation of nuclear weapons.

It is not as if the large sums that would be required to keep us in the nuclear game would buy us an independent weapon. Dan Plesch documents in an impressive forthcoming report that all levels of the Trident system depend on US cooperation. The missiles are not even owned by us, but are leased from the Pentagon in an arrangement that Denis Healey once dubbed as “rent-a-rocket”. Renewing our collaboration with the US on nuclear weapons will deepen the bonds between Downing Street and the White House, at the very time when the rest of the nation longs for a more independent stance.

It is therefore against Britain’s national interests to replace Trident. It is also against our international obligations, notably the commitment in the non-proliferation treaty to proceed in good faith to nuclear disarmament.

To be fair, New Labour has so far had a decent record on progress towards this objective. In the past decade Labour has scrapped Britain’s other nuclear weapons, signed up to the test ban treaty and reduced the alert status of our submarines by several days. But these positive steps will be reversed if we now charge off in the opposite direction by ordering a brand-new nuclear system.

There is a chasm too wide for logic to leap, between arguing that Britain must maintain nuclear weapons to guarantee its security, and lecturing Iran et al that the safety of the world would be compromised if they behaved in the same way.

Despite the current anxieties over proliferation, more nations have given up nuclear weapons over the past generation than have developed them. Brazil and Argentina negotiated a treaty to terminate their rival nuclear programmes. Ukraine and other former Soviet states renounced the nuclear capacity they inherited. South Africa, post-apartheid, abandoned its nuclear programme and dismantled its weapon capacity.

None of those countries regards itself as any less secure than before. Nor need we, if our leadership can find the courage to let Trident be the end of Britain’s futile and costly obsession with nuclear-weapon status.

2005: New labour and The Independent Nuclear Deterrent

Labour’s 2005 election manifesto stated: “We are also committed to retaining the independent nuclear deterrent.” But can this system be called independent when so much of it is, as modern business-speak would have it, sourced in America? The deterrent is carried in four Vanguard-class submarines that although designed and built in Britain, incorporate many US components and reactor technology:

* The delivery system is the Trident D-5 missile, which is designed and made in the United States.

* The firing system is also designed and made in the US.

* So is the guidance system.

* The computer software is American.

* The warhead design is based on the US W-76 bomb.

* The warheads are produced by Aldermaston, which is owned US firm Lockheed Martin and primarily uses US technology.

* Vital nuclear explosive parts are imported, we now know, from the US, as are some non-nuclear parts.

* The warhead factory is a copy of a facility at Los Alamos, New Mexico.

* The submarine maintenance base is also 51 per cent owned by Halliburton of the US.

2006: End of a Nuclear Weapons Era: Can Britain Make History?

The United Kingdom has begun to debate whether to replace the current Trident nuclear weapons system, which will cease to be operational in the early 2020s, or to become the first acknowledged nuclear-weapon state to comply fully with Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by eliminating the British arsenal.

A decision is expected sometime in this parliament, (deferred until after the May 2015 general election) in 2010. Just before last year’s general election, the government of Tony Blair announced that it would need to consider a follow-on to Trident, but it sought to portray the decision as essentially technical—whether to extend the life of the current submarines or build new platforms.

The government’s attempt to slip the decision through quietly failed, and a contentious debate about the future of British nuclear weapons and nonproliferation policy has now been kindled. Politicians and retired military officers are taking sides, the grassroots peace movement is mobilizing, and members of parliament are demanding to participate in the decision-making.

Blair has made clear that he believes the United Kingdom should retain “the independent nuclear deterrent.” Yet, his defense secretary, John Reid, has tried to reassure members of parliament that no decision has been taken on any replacement and that the government would “listen to” their views. However, there was no commitment to either a debate or vote on the matter in parliament.


2008: USA sub builders to plug yard skills gap

18 Americans are arriving in Barrow to help BAE. They include six designers who have already arrived, and who will work with BAE, Thales, Rolls Royce and Ministry of Defence staff on designs for future subs including planned, giant Son of Trident vessels. Twelve engineers from Electric Boat, set to arrive in January, will work on the Astute-class boats Ambush and Artful, now in build.

On the design side, BAE has to work with the USA on any future Trident missile sub because the top secret missiles and missile compartments are American technology and are designed and made by US firms.

2008: Britain’s nuclear warheads will be upgraded

The Government is planning to upgrade its stockpile of nuclear warheads, it has been reported.

A senior Ministry of Defence official told a private gathering of arms manufacturers that the decision to replace the warheads had already been taken, according to documents released under the freedom of Information Act. In June last year David Gould, the then chief operating officer at the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, made the announcement at a future deterrent industry event. He said: “This afternoon we are going to outline our plan to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent. “The intention is to replace the entire Vanguard class submarine system. Including the warhead and missile.”

The statement is in contradiction to previous assertions made by ministers. They have always denied that there are plans to replace the warheads as part of the upgrade of the Trident nuclear system, and insisted that no decision would be made until the next parliament, probably sometime after 2010.

Kate Hudson, chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “It is a disgrace that the MoD is secretly telling the defence industry one thing, whilst ministers are saying quite the opposite in Parliament.”

2008 – Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire sold off to American company.

The government has sold its last remaining shares in the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire to an American company. The move means Britain no longer has any stake in the production of its Trident nuclear warheads. Opposition MPs have criticised the sale, but the Ministry of Defence said Britain’s “sovereign interests” had been protected. The fee paid by California-based Jacobs Engineering has not been disclosed. The sale of British Nuclear Fuels’ stake means Jacobs has control of one third of Aldermaston’s operating company, AWE Management. The other two thirds were already in private hands. They are split equally between American defence giant Lockheed Martin and the British plc Serco. Aldermaston is responsible for the production of warheads for the Trident nuclear deterrent programme and its planned replacement Trident2.


2015: Trident Nuclear Weapons – Armageddon On Our Doorstep

The current Trident nuclear weapons system comprises four nuclear powered Vanguard-class submarines, which are homeported at Faslane naval base northwest of Glasgow. These are equipped with Trident II D5 missiles leased from the US, fitted with warheads that are manufactured at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and Burghfield, near London. The majority of the UK’s declared 225 warheads – those that are not being deployed on board the submarines or refurbished by AWE – are stored at a naval arms depot at Coulport, on the Scottish coast about 6 miles from Faslane. Trident nuclear weapons are regularly transported through Scottish lochs and seas and between Faslane and Coulport. Convoys of armoured vehicles carrying warheads frequently travel on public roads, including motorways, between AWE Burghfield and Coulport.


The War Game – The Reality Of A Nuclear War – The Harrowing Film Produced By The BBC But Never Shown


The War Game – The Reality Of A Nuclear War – The Harrowing Film Produced By The BBC But Never Shown

This award winning film was produced by the BBC but never shown on national television due to the messages it carried.

The recent vote in Westminster to retain and further develop Trident nuclear weapons at an astronomical cost expected to exceed £200 billion reminded me of the film I first viewed some 35 years ago. I am fervently against the retention of nuclear weapons which, as sure as night follows day will bring about the scenario enacted in the film.


We present the US television premiere of Peter Watkins’ film “The War Game,” a graphic portrayal of what would happen in the event of a nuclear attack on Great Britain. The movie was so powerful and realistic that the BBC banned it from TV despite the fact that the film had been commissioned by the BBC and had won an Academy Award in l966 for best documentary. Although it has been shown in a few movie theatres in the US, it has not been presented on TV. “The War Game” is shocking, but is not sensationalized. It was carefully researched and based on actual events which occurred in World War II during and after the mass Allied raids on Germany and the atomic bombings of Japan. Recorded February, 1983 “The War Game” Copyright 1965 Copyright February, 1983




Removal of Trident and Nuclear Weapons From The UK by 2020 is Achievable

1. Removal of Trident and Nuclear Weapons From The UK by 2020.

a. It just doesn’t make any sense. The debate over whether or not the UK should replace the ever more expensive Trident Ballistic Missile Nuclear deterrent becomes more nonsensical upon each political statement in support. David Cameron pointed to the existing and ever expanding threat of nuclear attack from North Korea, (excuse me while I laugh) and the newly identified probability of Iran becoming a nuclear power, with weapons to boot. Yet, despite being apparently continually confronted by these rogue nations, Chancellor Osborne announced an eight per cent cut in the Foreign Office resource budget from 2015/16. Just at the time the nation’s need for an efficient, first class well-funded Foreign Office, diplomatic service is at its greatest.

b. Another senior Tory recently threw his hat in the ring and suggested the case for retaining Trident hinged on events in the Ukraine. Such approaches are mindful of the, “cold war” which whilst it spawned, James Bond, Harry Lime, The Cambridge University Five spy-ring and their like friends in Oxford University contributed nothing to international relations except the ever present thought in the minds of all humanity that they existed in a trap which could be sprung at the press of a button bringing about the mutual destruction of the human race as we know it. Talk about a life sentence with no parole.

c. The final decision about replacement of Trident is to be taken soon after the next general election, (although it appears the Tory’s have pre-empted this by placing a £400M contract with the USA for the manufacture of nuclear delivery tubes) Meantime there is a lot of heat yet to be generated, most of it out-with Westminster, in the public domain, if an open, honest and inclusive debate is to be held. The new buzz words being bandied by knowledgeable NATO defence analysts nations are, “Smart Defence” and it is accepted this is the way forward in times of severe financial constraints worldwide. If embraced the measures will allow the UK to focus on delivering a properly financed, long term strategic support to it’s fellow NATO nations through smart power.

d. NATO nations are signed up to full protection from nuclear attack through the all encompassing Nuclear Umbrella provided by the US. A condition of this “protection” requires each NATO nation to commit 2% of it’s national budget to the maintenance of conventional defence forces, which would be made available, at times of war to NATO. The US allocates around 4.5% of it’s national budget to it’s armed forces, of which 2% is apportioned to nuclear support. The remaining 2.5% is taken up by conventional forces.

e. The UK allocates 2% of the national budget to defence BUT just short of 1% is taken up maintaining Trident and associated nuclear activities. Around half of the remaining 1% is committed to the development and use of 2 aircraft carriers, their support flotilla’s and new US untested and yet to be manufactured, (nuclear delivery capable) f35 aircraft. The residue half of 1% is set aside to support conventional armed forces, including a much weakened army capable of only a brigade strength one strike attack, with no capability of residual occupancy. Contrast this to the Germans who maintain a standing army of 175,000.

f. The US are ever diplomatically pressing the UK to adopt the same nuclear profile as other members of NATO giving up Trident in favour of the protection of the US nuclear umbrella allowing the allocation of the entire 2% of it’s national budget to support of conventional forces, (as do the Germans). This would allow the UK to properly contribute to the NATO, “smart defence” policy. The British Army would be increased to 150,000, (reducing unemployment at a stroke). Other arms would also be increased in measurable terms. The UK economy would be boosted significantly and the UK would stand proud in the family of nations once more.

g. Ed Miliband and The Labour Party has in it’s grasp the ability to declare a change of policy and declare it’s intention to give up Trident and Nuclear weapons within the lifetime of the parliament. Such a declaration would ensure a sweeping election victory in May 2015. Other measures enabling introduction of, Smart defence” could then be introduced. I fully expect Jim Murphy, if elected will demand such a policy change as a condition of support of Scottish Labour Party MP’s, (such as they are). The SNP has already stated the removal of Trident is a condition of the provision of support to the Labour party.

2.August 2009; The Obama-Kennedy Nuclear Policy – Ted Sorensen – former Special Council and Advisor to President John F. Kennedy.

a. Let us “bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations,” said Kennedy in his Inaugural Address in January 1961. “Weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us,” he told the United Nations General Assembly later that year. “…No longer is the quest for disarmament a sign of weakness, (nor) the destruction of arms a dream — it is a practical matter of life or death. The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.”

b. McNamara supported President Kennedy’s decision not to use nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Crisis or on any other occasion; and JFK’s success in ending those crises without initiating a nuclear exchange or even firing a shot convinced all of us who served with him never to rely on nuclear weapons in the future, never, as he put it, “to risk a nuclear war in which the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth.”

c. The old Eisenhower-Dulles policy of threatening massive retaliation, he told Congress in January 1963, reflecting upon the Cuban Missile Crisis, “may not deter piecemeal aggression; but a line of destroyers in a quarantine (like that around Cuba) or a division of well-equipped men on a border (like that around West Berlin) may be more useful to our real security than the multiplication of awesome weapons beyond all rational need.”

d. In the single best speech of his presidency, delivered at American University’s 1963 Commencement, he declared that “the acquisition of idle stockpiles which can only destroy and never create is not the most efficient means of assuring peace.”

e. As for America’s own military strategy, Kennedy — a World War II hero, no pacifist — declared that we have “deliberately chosen to concentrate on more mobile and efficient weapons with lower but entirely sufficient yield,” and thus “(our) security would not be diminished by a reduction of our nuclear stockpile.”

f. Ronald Reagan in his 1984 State of the Union message spoke directly to the people of the Soviet Union: “A nuclear war cannot be won… it must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?” His wife Nancy said he “had many hopes…to create a world free of nuclear weapons.”

g. There are a formidable number of steps facing the US reaching the Kennedy dream, involving a host of controversial issues. But the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons is not only a diplomatic issue, although it will require masterful diplomacy; not only a military security issue, although we must keep our conventional weapons ready; and not only a political issue (although the nay-sayers will try to make political hay out of it). It is a moral issue — indeed, a moral imperative.

3. July 2010; Like for like renewal of Trident will come at expense of conventional forces

a. The UK Government, driven by institutional and political momentum rather than by strategic necessity, is committed to maintaining a nuclear-armed missile submarine on deterrent patrol at all times (Continuous At-Sea Deterrence, or ‘CASD’) Plans at present are to order a new generation of submarines after 2015 but this threatens to be at the expense of a deep reduction in conventional forces and there is now a pressing case for re-examination of whether alternatives to current CASD policy could yield significant financial savings while continuing to meet this agreed objective.

b. Highlighting the ‘stark’ disconnect between current conventional and nuclear planning, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) argues that fiscal pressures, coupled with the reduced threat of surprise nuclear attack, mean the cost equation of maintaining CASD is now changing:

c. ‘There is now a stark gap between the assumptions on which planning for the UK’s conventional and nuclear forces, respectively, are based… The current Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) is based on the assumption that a significant threat of attack on the UK homeland by other states will not re-emerge without an extended period of strategic warning. In contrast, the commitment to maintain a nuclear-armed missile submarine on patrol at all times (known as Continuous-At-Sea-Deterrence or CASD) has remained largely unchanged since the 1960’s, when a surprise attack on Western Europe by the Soviet Union was a central driver for UK force planning.’

d. ‘Given the severe costs that Trident renewal would require… there is now a strong case for a re-examination of whether alternatives to current CASD policy could yield significant financial savings while continuing to meet this agreed objective. The fiscal situation facing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is significantly worse than was assumed in 2006, when current renewal plans were drawn up by the previous government’. With the Treasury insisting that additional costs for Trident renewal be met from the MoD core budget, the effect of this on conventional capabilities will be ‘further multiplied’ by expected real term deep cuts in defence spending.

e. ‘MoD planners may decide upon the unsafe option further shifting resources out of other areas (such as personnel) in order to help to pay for the increased strain on the equipment budget after 2015. What is clear is that the inclusion of Trident renewal in the core budget, on current plans, could require the MoD to plan for a further significant real reduction in annual conventional spending by 2020, over and above any reduction that the Spending Review decides to make over the next four years.

4. January 2012; Strategic Defence and Security Review Discussion Westminster – Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East, Labour)- Gordon Brown’s old Arm Twister

a.I want us to look again at the case for Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. I know that that will probably not be popular on either side of the House; others can make their points as the debate progresses. Given the current circumstances, it is time to consider the question again. The Government projects a total cost of £15 billion to £20 billion for the Trident successor programme. Independent research has suggested that the total cost would come in at three or four times that figure and our past experience with such big defence programmes suggests something similar. No matter how one looks at it, this is a very large sum of money to spend. My point is that we should look carefully at whether we should spend it.

b. The maingate decision on final renewal has been pushed back until after the next general election. The cost of that is said to be an additional £1.5 billion to refurbish and prolong the lifespan of the existing fleet. Parliamentary answers from Defence Ministers show that upwards of £2 billion has already been spent on preparatory work for the manufacture of the new submarines. The Government clearly intends to press ahead with Trident renewal. In my opinion, they should seek explicit parliamentary authority for doing so. The failure to hold a vote in Parliament on the renewal of our independent nuclear deterrent is because of the inability to reconcile different views in the coalition. The question that faces us is whether an independent nuclear deterrent is a good use of such a large sum of public money in the present circumstances. The arguments, which were never that strong, are now moving away from Trident renewal.

c. The current Trident system relies heavily on US logistical, capacity, technological and military know-how. It is nearly impossible to imagine any circumstances in which we would launch a nuclear attack, much less that we would do so independently of the Americans. Likewise, were Britain to be attacked by a nuclear power, the terms of our membership of NATO would require a joint response by all members, including the US. NATO is a mutual defence pact. It is a fundamental strength that its armoury includes the nuclear capability of the US. There has always been a question over why Britain needs to duplicate NATO’s nuclear capability, rather than more usefully supplement its conventional capacity. When I first entered Parliament in 1983, I resisted joining the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I did not support our decision to go ahead with an independent submarine-based system of our own. However, I did support Britain’s membership of NATO, which CND did not. At the time, that was regarded in the Labour party as a very establishment and right-wing position. It is a small irony of Labour politics that the same position is today seen as very left-wing.

d. When the decision was taken to adopt the Trident system in the early 1980s, there was an understanding that in exchange for non-proliferation by the non-nuclear powers, there would be restraint by the existing nuclear powers, in particular the US and Russia, when it came to further weapons development and upgrades. That idea was enshrined in article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It can be argued that that has been more honoured in the breach by countries that did not possess a nuclear capability, but that do now. The underlying principle, however, seems to me still to be sound.

e. The large financial outlay that the Government are committed to in planning to replace our independent deterrent could be better spent in a number of ways. During the economic boom, I argued that we ought to better equip our troops, invest in the specialist field of anti-terrorism capability in line with the real threats that we face, and supplement our existing overseas aid budget. We now face new threats. To take one example, the money that we spend on Trident could be used to bring down substantially the tuition fees of every student. I think that cutting a generation adrift from higher education poses a bigger threat to our nation than the idea that a foreign power with nuclear weaponry would uniquely threaten to use it against us, and not the rest of NATO, and would somehow be able to disapply NATO’s founding terms. The real nuclear dangers of the future come from rogue states and terrorism. The possession of an independent nuclear deterrent does not make us safer. A better investment would be in anti-terrorism capabilities.

f. Three main arguments are put forward by proponents of Trident replacement. The first is that it is the best weapon that money can buy. The second is that it guarantees a seat on the United Nations Security Council. The final argument is that it contributes to our ability to punch above our weight in the world. I argue that it is not much of a weapon if the circumstances in which it may be used cannot be envisaged. Fundamental reform of the United Nations Security Council is long overdue and the difficulty, as we all know, is getting agreement on what that reform should be. I also think that other countries might like us more if we stopped punching above our weight in the world. We might be better thought of by the international community if we settled for being the medium-sized European nation state that we are, rather than the imperial power that we used to be.

g. We have a choice as a country: do we want to continue to drift into spending billions of pounds on supplementing a nuclear capability that we already possess through NATO or do we want to spend that money on tackling the problems that Britain actually faces in squeezed economic times? Surely we should resolve this issue now with a vote in this Parliament. A comment: If Britain demands that states without nuclear weapons commit to never acquiring them, then it has a duty (and a self-interest) in taking the necessary steps towards removing it’s own nuclear weapons. It is the bargain at the very heart of the non-proliferation treaty.

5. January 2012; The Westminster Consensus On Trident Is Dead

a. With the main decision on building new submarines due in 2016, could a new Strategic Defence and Security Review following an election in 2015 be the opportunity to change course? Before Christmas there was growing disquiet from MPs when the MoD announced it had no plans to publish the Trident Alternatives Review – the Cabinet Office review ordered to fulfil the agreement in the coalition agreement that Lib Dems could continue to argue for alternatives. The terms of the review are narrow, they don’t challenge nuclear weapons, only the delivery system and its costs. Meanwhile any discussion about public spending always raises the question why spend billions on Trident rather than our public services? Opposition to Trident is going to have a loud airing in the next few months and years.

b. The Labour Party appears to be adopting a more open-minded approach to Trident. Ed Miliband clearly has an open mind. During the leadership election he said, “Defence should not be exempted from the tough spending choices we need to face. We should look at the totality of our conventional and nuclear capabilities, considering both our defence needs and what our priorities are in the changing economic climate”.

c. Jim Murphy, Shadow Defence Minister said, “I’m really not wedded to something. I didn’t get involved in politics or join the Labour party because I love a weapons system. But I’m not a unilateralist, and the Labour party is not a unilateralist party. And you either have a credible nuclear deterrent or you don’t. Iran and North Korea are going in one direction. Does that increase or decrease the need for Britain to have a nuclear deterrent? I think most people would say, my gosh, in a world of Ahmadinejad and North Korea, we should continue to have a nuclear deterrent.” Whilst they are saying different things, whether it is Nick Brown’s backbench intervention or Ed Miliband welcoming the Trident Review. The previous Westminster consensus on Trident – that it is a non-negotiable facet of the politics of the centre ground – is dead.

6. August 2012; Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis at Fifty

a. Fifty years ago this month, the world teetered on the precipice of a nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union during the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis. We were fortunate to have survived that crisis, thanks largely to the restraint shown by President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev.

b. Now, fifty years later, there is no immediate crisis such as that in 1962 over Soviet nuclear-armed missiles being placed in Cuba. There are, however, still some 19,000 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of nine nuclear-armed nations: the US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Approximately 95 percent of these weapons are in the arsenals of the US and Russia. Some 2,000 of them are kept in a state of high alert, ready to be immediately launched upon an order to do so at any moment of any day or night.

c. Although the Cold War ended more than 20 years ago, the possibilities for crisis are still with us. NATO has expanded to the Russian borders, despite US promises not to do so, and has begun placing missile defense installations near the Russian borders. Despite US and NATO assurances to Russia that these installations are to protect against an Iranian missile launch, Russian leaders view these installations as undermining their strategic deterrent force by making them vulnerable to a first-strike attack. They have said that they will target these US missile defense installations.

d. In another US-Russian confrontation over Georgia, such as occurred in 2008, or some other regional dispute, it is possible that tensions could rise to the point of nuclear crisis between US and Russian military forces. Of course, this would be crazy, but it is far from impossible. What would make the world safer? What might we expect from national leaders who should have learned from how close the world came to nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

e. First, for the US and NATO to make Russia a partner in any missile defense plans focused on Iranian missiles. Second, for the US to remove its approximately 180 remaining tactical nuclear weapons located in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey). Third, for the US and Russia to take seriously their legal obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date, for nuclear disarmament in all its aspects and for a treaty on general and complete disarmament.

f. We know now that a regional nuclear war would have global consequences. Atmospheric scientists have modeled a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan in which each side used 50 Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons on the other side’s cities. Such a war would put enough soot from burning cities into the upper stratosphere to reduce warming sunlight for a decade, lowering surface temperatures on earth to the lowest levels in 1,000 years. This would result in shortened growing seasons, crop failures and famine that would kill hundreds of millions of people, perhaps a billion, throughout the world.

g. The scientific modeling showed that there would be a Nuclear Famine, and it would be triggered by using less than half of one percent of the world’s nuclear explosive power. Such a famine could be initiated not only by India and Pakistan, two countries that have been to war over Kashmir on several occasions, but by any of the Nuclear Nine. The US and Russia could each trigger a far more devastating Nuclear Famine by a nuclear attack on the other side’s cities, an attack which would be suicidal even if the other side did not respond in kind.

h. When thinking about nuclear weapons and their dangers, we would do well to remember the words of General George Lee Butler, former commander-in-chief of the United States Strategic Command, responsible for all US strategic nuclear weapons: “Nuclear weapons give no quarter. Their effects transcend time and space, poisoning the Earth and deforming its inhabitants for generation upon generation. They leave us wholly without defense, expunge all hope for survival. They hold in their sway not just the fate of nations but of civilization.”

i. Nuclear weapons do not protect us. Rather, they make us vulnerable to annihilation. It is relatively easy to put them out of our minds, but to do so is to evade our responsibility as citizens of the world and of nuclear-armed countries. Nuclear weapons imperil our common future – they imperil our children and their children and all children of the future. They imperil all we hold dear. We must speak out for a world without nuclear weapons. It is a moral and legal imperative and we would be well advised to act now before we are confronted with the equivalent of another Cuban Missile Crisis.

7. April 2013; Washington Responds – Shrinking Europe Military Spending Stirs Concern

a. Alarmed by years of cuts to military spending, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, issued a dire public warning to European nations, noting that together they had slashed $45 billion, or the equivalent of Germany’s entire military budget, endangering the alliance’s viability, its mission and its relationship with the USA. That was two years ago. Since then, with the Afghan war winding down and pressure from the European Union to limit budget deficits, Europe has only cut deeper. Now, as President Obama wrestles with his own huge budget deficit and military costs, the responsibility for keeping NATO afloat has fallen disproportionately onto the United States, an especially untenable situation as priorities shift to Asia.

b. The United States finances nearly three-quarters of NATO’s military spending, up from 63 percent in 2001. And yet among the alliance’s 28 nations, experts note, only the United States, Britain and Greece are meeting NATO’s own spending guidelines of 2 percent of gross domestic product. Even Britain and France — the two leading European nations willing to project military might — are slipping further. France says that by 2014 it may cut deeper still — to just 1.3 percent of G.D.P., down from 1.9 percent this year. By comparison, the United States spent 4.8 percent of its G.D.P. on the military in 2011.

c. In 2012, for the first time, military spending among Asian nations, in particular China, exceeded that of the Europeans. “We are moving toward a Europe that is a combination of the unable and the unwilling,” said Camille Grand, a French military expert who directs the Foundation for Strategic Research. “European countries are continuing to be free riders, instead of working seriously to see how to act together.” Increasingly, without United States assistance, military experts said, Europe’s armed forces have trouble carrying out basic operations as its dwindling financial and political commitment has derailed multiple initiatives intended to make the continent more self-reliant.

d. NATO’s deputy secretary general, Alexander R. Vershbow, a former senior Defense Department official, said that “the financial crisis has been corrosive to the alliance” and that relations between the European Union and NATO remained “dysfunctional.” Even as Britain and France have boasted of operations in Libya and Mali, those interventions have revealed Europe’s weakness more than its strength. In Libya, the United States supplied intelligence, drones, fighter and refueling aircraft, ammunition stocks and missiles to destroy air defenses, and in Mali the French required American intelligence, drones, and refueling and transport aircraft.

e. Senior American officials have warned that unless European countries spend more on defense, they risk “collective military irrelevance.” A senior American official said that Washington was eager for partnership in the Middle East and Asia, but that “Europe’s decision to abdicate on defense spending increasingly means it can’t take care of itself, and it can’t be a valuable partner to us.” While the United States would like to be able to rely more on its European allies, many experts doubt that even the strongest among them, Britain and France, could carry out their part of another Libya operation now, and certainly not in a few years. Both are struggling to maintain their own nuclear deterrents as well as mobile, modern armed forces. The situation in Britain is so bad that American officials are quietly urging it to drop its expensive nuclear deterrent.

f. “Either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else or a real military partner,” a senior American official said. The challenge is particularly acute as NATO pulls its forces out of Afghanistan after a long, wearying and unsatisfying war, with results widely seen as fragile, even unsustainable. After Afghanistan, with Europeans looking inward and the Russian threat considered more rhetorical than real, some wonder once more about the real utility of NATO.

g. James M. Goldgeier, dean of the School of International Service at American University in Washington, thinks that NATO has some considerable soul-searching ahead if its European members become increasingly unwilling to operate abroad. “If NATO isn’t outward looking, it’s got nothing to do,” he said. “It can’t go back to managing a threat from Russia, because it’s not a real threat.”

h. A decade of halting European efforts to create a Common Security and Defense Policy has yielded little. A NATO Response Force, agreed to in 2002, was supposed to be an all-terrain rapid reaction force, with rotating membership for land, air, naval and special forces, ready to go anywhere and do most anything with at least 13,000 troops. But it has never been used, except in part to add security to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the 2004 Afghan elections and to provide disaster relief.

i. The European Union had a 1999 goal of 60,000 troops available for battle in a “Eurocorps.” That has been quietly abandoned, replaced by battle groups of 1,500 to 2,500 troops, also on a rotating basis among the many and differently equipped member states. The “lead” country is supposed to take the political risk and provide most of the troops and most of the money. “Not every battle group has been what it’s made out to be,” said Tomas Valasek, a defense expert and president of the Central European Policy Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia, with diplomatic understatement. “Some are more ready than others.”

j. But the will to participate has also declined. While the intent was to have two battle groups, a shortage of countries willing to participate has meant a quiet halving of ready forces to one battle group. There is also a French-German brigade, formed in 1987, of some 5,000 men, which proudly marched down the Champs-Élysées on Bastille Day. But it, too, has remained unused. When the French wanted to use it for Mali, the Germans objected. “It’s given military cooperation a bad name,” Mr. Valasek said. The brigade was supposed to be the foundation for the Eurocorps, the abandoned goal of 60,000 troops ready to deploy for two months, but the reality has been embarrassing.

k. The Germans also objected to fighting in Libya, and even the European Union’s effort to come up with 550 military trainers to help reconstruct the Malian Army became a slow slog of negotiations and preparations; the first of those trainers has only now arrived. There have been many discussions of how smaller European countries can share capabilities, the way the Baltic States do, and the Dutch and Belgians do for naval training and ship purchasing. There is an old debate about whether some countries will give up their own capabilities — air forces or navies, for example — so long as partners agree to protect them.

l. “The way forward is to permanently pool training, procurement, logistics and maintenance,” Mr. Valasek said. “We won’t find any more money any time soon.” In the meantime, a lack of procurement means a steady decline as older weapons systems become obsolete. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of NATO member Estonia, said that “it’s time for a serious rethink about security policy.”The United States “has made it clear that it won’t continue to pay what is now 75 percent of all NATO military spending,” he said. “That should be sufficient for the European members of NATO to understand that this can’t work as now,” especially with the rise of China.

m. A Western European ambassador to NATO said that “we need to think more about how to share the burden and rebalance it, both in decision-making and responsibility,” especially with the pivot to Asia. France, he said, sees the pivot “as an opportunity, while the East Europeans see it as a threat.” After Afghanistan, he said, “we need an adult conversation about rebalancing.”James B. Steinberg, a former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser, now dean of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, said that Washington could cope. “There’s less strategic focus on the remaining security problems in Europe itself,” which he described as mostly residual, including the Balkans and a post-Soviet equilibrium. That means Washington will not put more resources into Europe, especially as it concentrates on China.

n. But on broader strategic challenges, including China, Washington “likes the partnership with Europe for political legitimacy, which is not a function of its military capacity,” he said. European political support allows the United States to take a broader position in East Asia that is not simply bilateral. No one knows where the next crisis will emerge, Mr. Steinberg said, but it is useful to have NATO there, even acting as a limited coalition, as in Libya. If the United States represents 75 percent of NATO spending, “that’s a modest price to pay when the next crisis comes along.” Whatever NATO’s weaknesses, “if it were gone, it would be very, very hard to recreate.”

8. April 2013; America Tells Britain – Be A Real Military Partner – Do Not Replace Trident

a. As debate continues about the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system, many just assume that the United States automatically supports a new generation of British nuclear weapons – or even that they may not “let us” disarm. Those backing the retention and replacement of Britain’s nuclear arsenal often cite our obligations as part of NATO – a US-led nuclear alliance – and of our commitment to our allies in “an uncertain world”. Indeed some even see nuclear cooperation with the US as the keystone in our “special relationship”.

b. So it was interesting to read the following passage in the International Herald Tribune – “NATO at a turning point” under the heading, “Sharing Capabilities”. As for Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron is insisting on keeping a nuclear deterrent on a new generation of submarines, even as U.S. officials are pushing London to consider abandoning the idea. As one U.S. official said privately, “They can’t afford Trident, and they need to confront the choice: either they can be a nuclear power and nothing else or a real military partner.”

c. As the article clearly conveys, there are many in high places that would prefer Britain to be a well-equipped and viable conventional military force, capable of twenty-first century interventions and keeping up the European end of NATO military capacity. This lays bare one of the main arguments – whether implicit or explicit – put forward by those in favour of Trident replacement: that while times may be hard economically, maintaining a nuclear arsenal is the strong choice for defence policy. So it’s interesting to note that allies may see it as making us a bit of a military lame duck. In fact, such a view is increasingly widespread here, as well as in the US, given the drastic reductions in personnel and capabilities as a result of cuts to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

d. In the first instance, no-one should be in any doubt about the impact of Trident spending on UK defence equipment budgets. The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has said that by the early 2020s, ‘submarine and deterrent spending is set to account for around 35% of the total core procurement budget’. And by 2017, cuts to defence personnel will see regular troops reduced from 102,000 to 82,000 – with increasing reliance on reservists.

e. We are now starting to see previously pro-Trident news outlets such as London’s Evening Standard and the Telegraph raising concerns about the government’s approach to defence priorities. The Evening Standard has written two excellent editorials on the question of Trident and defence spending, here and here, stating, “Defence must take its share of cuts and choices must be made. Something has to give. it is worth asking again whether renewing the Trident nuclear missile system, on which design work alone will cost £350 million, is as good a use of defence funds as more boots on the ground. Given our present challenges, the answer must be no.”

f. While many are still right to put forward the moral and humanitarian arguments against nuclear weapons, they are increasingly joined by those who see the strength in the economic and strategic arguments against Trident. These are people with serious concerns about the thinking behind the government’s defence spending and security strategy. And of course they’re right that the costs will be astronomical and devastating. The MoD puts the build cost of the “Successor” submarines alone at £20-25bn, which, given its track record of delivering major projects around 40 per cent over budget, might be more accurately predicted as £28-35bn. The maintenance costs will be £3bn per annum (not factoring in inflation) for 30-40 years according to former Minister for the Armed Forces Sir Nick Harvey MP. Then there’s the estimated £25bn decommissioning cost.

g. £100bn is now a considerable underestimation of Trident replacement costs. It is clear it will be more. But even without the grim economics, Trident replacement seems at odds with both government analysis – the National Security Strategy downgraded the threat of state-on-state nuclear attack – and with the ability to fulfil government policy. As the Standard rightly points out, “The Foreign Secretary talks tough about North Africa and David Cameron regards Libya as one of his foreign policy successes. Yet they must know that interventions like that in Libya, or a British version of France’s exploits in Mali, would be impossible with drastic reductions in troop numbers. And this is precisely what is being called into question in the US administration. What use is an ally which becomes incapable of action through a dearth of personnel and equipment? How would Britain’s nuclear weapons play any useful role in US operations?

h. This dilemma should be ringing alarm bells for Labour, whose shadow Defence Minister Jim Murphy MP recently outlined his vision of a flexible, dynamic, military with “adaptable units” to head off emerging security threats around the world. Labour needs to understand that it will not be able to afford both that and Trident. The debate on Trident will continue, to the general election and beyond. But those who still think we are well-served by nuclear weapons would do well to heed the view of former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo: Trident, he says, is completely past its sell-by date and a tremendous waste of money. I can’t say fairer than that.

9. Apr 2014; Developing a Rational Strategy on Trident

a. The possession of nuclear weapons, threatening death and destruction to millions, is widely accepted as immoral and the assertion that possessing such weapons constitutes a deterrence is, to say the least, highly questionable. The description of Britain’s nuclear weapons as being “independent” can also be called into question given that Trident is leased from the US, guided by US satellites and overhauled at Kings Bay in Georgia. Most analysts consider it inconceivable that the system would be deployed outside the realms of US foreign policy aspirations or without authorisation from Washington. And then we have the fact that the development and possession of ever-larger and increasingly accurate nuclear weapons systems directly contradicts the aims and objectives of international treaties on proliferation.

b. There are clearly difficulties in dissuading countries such as North Korea or Iran from developing nuclear weapons if British defence policy appears to promote the “value” of such weapons and a belief that they can ensure influence in the international arena. Perhaps the most powerful argument for opposition to nuclear weapons is on the grounds of cost, particularly at a time of austerity and service cuts. When people face job losses, wage freezes, wage reductions, privatisations, cuts to terms and conditions and are being continually told to “tighten your belts,” proposals to spend up to £100 billion on a weapon of mass destruction, which will hopefully never be used, makes no economic sense.

c. It is important to remember however that advocates of maintaining Britain’s nuclear arsenal consistently emphasise the likelihood of job losses if the arsenal is abandoned. A starting point therefore is to take seriously defence workers’ concerns over their job security and to recognise that Scottish defence jobs have been hemorrhaging over many years. Significantly, these jobs have been reducing over the lifetime of the existing Trident programme. Over that period, 40,000 (35 per cent) of defence jobs have been lost, when overhaul responsibility shifted to the US, including 250 at Faslane, principally as a consequence of Babcock privatisation. The clear message is that Trident and expenditure on nuclear weapons is costing, and will continue to cost, jobs in the defence sector.

10. June 2014; Time To See The Light On Nuclear Weapons

a. The next UK strategic defence and security review won’t be held until 2015, but debate about whether or not Britain should retain its expensive Trident ballistic missile nuclear deterrent is already hotting up. The Shadow Defence Secretary, Vernon Coaker MP, has called for an “open and inclusive” debate over Britain’s future role in the world, with greater focus on “long-term strategy and smart power”.

b. Last year the Prime Minister said that we needed Trident because of the existing potential threat from North Korea and developing threat in Iran. Conservative MP Julian Lewis recently put the case for maintaining a nuclear deterrent in light of the political situation in Ukraine, which brings back cold war memories of the way international relations were conducted when the stakes were mutually assured destruction.

c. Yet curiously, despite being surrounded by these bellicose nations, in the government spending plans for 2015-16 Chancellor George Osborne announced an eight per cent cut in the Foreign Office resource budget. Now is when our need for exemplary and well-funded Foreign Office diplomacy is at its greatest.

d. Monet painted the same view of Rouen Cathedral more than thirty times; in each picture the stones remain the same while the shifting and changing light reveals a different character. In a similar way, if the light falling on international relations presages a violent storm, then relations between states might be construed as anarchic. The function of trade becomes economic gain to be used for creating and equipping armies to defend against ever present threats. The very existence of ‘statehood’ is the result of frightened people coming together to build ever-higher walls and forming governments whose primary purpose is to dedicate the economic and political apparatus to home security.

e. Seen in another light, without a constant threat of war, the function of a state is to provide a platform for diplomacy. Here, trade is a means to enhance cooperation, treaties are forged for the purpose of mutual benefits, arrangements are jointly profitable, and compromise is not a weakness but a means of reaching common goals. Like the stones of Rouen Cathedral, the countries are the same, but the approach of government must be completely different.

f. It doesn’t take an art lover to realise that liberalism, trade and diplomacy are preferable to military isolationism, or that organisations such as the European Union are preferable to the destruction unleashed between neighbours twice in the same century. The cold war polarised politics and economic activity in the second half of the 20th century to the extent that trade, finance and science was coerced into building weapons of annihilation so potent that their use would have blasted civilised life off the planet – hardly the best way for our shrinking planet and its expanding population to survive. Trident, our fleet of ever-vigilant nuclear submarines, is a relic. What purpose could ever be usefully served by retaining a weapon so powerfully destructive that it could never be used?

g. Did the silent deadly presence of Trident lurking in the depths of the oceans hold aggressive North Korean nuclear posturing at bay? Were Iranian negotiators convinced to come to an agreement on their nuclear programme by the knowledge that the UK held a trump card in the game of mutually assured destruction? Did Russia, rather than nuking Ukraine for wanting to become a member of the EU, merely annex Crimea as it feared the unleashing of terrible reprisals? Probably not. The intense diplomacy that surrounded North Korea, Iran and now Russia, tends to suggest that Trident is not playing a major role in the active resolution of these political hot spots. In this, the cold light of reason, it seems clear that the money would be better spent on the foreign office than a nuclear deterrent.

11. September 2014; The USA Speaks – The UK Should Disarm It’s Nuclear Weapons

a. In the run up to Scotland’s vote on independence, pundits predicted that independence could lead to the end of the U.K.’s nuclear weapons program. Most of the attention was focused on the need to relocate British nuclear submarines, currently stationed in Scotland, in the event of a “yes” vote. Conventional thought held that since the Scots have now decided to preserve the union, the U.K.’s nuclear program can continue as normal. However, this would be a dire mistake for the United Kingdom and its allies. The U.K. should move ahead to dismantle a program that wastes precious resources on weapons that do not contribute to Britain’s national security.

b. First, nuclear weapons are a drain on national resources. Even with the economic might of Scotland, the union is struggling to maintain both conventional and nuclear forces. Britain’s current fleet of nuclear submarines is reaching the end of its service life and will need to be replaced over the next decade. This is an incredibly complex process that is estimated to cost roughly $58.1 billion, nearly one fourth of Britain’s defense budget. This comes at a time when the U.K. is already struggling to find the funds to maintain its conventional forces.

c. Years of deep budget cuts have taken a heavy toll, leading the military to recently lay off 20,000 regular army personnel, roughly 20 percent of its total force. With a sizeable national debt and a slow-growing economy, the U.K. can scarcely afford to spend more on defense. Thus, the billions spent on nuclear weapons are diverting funds from other crucial areas such as education, healthcare and conventional forces.

d. Second, nuclear weapons have failed to make the United Kingdom safer. Nuclear weapons provided no defense or deterrence against the 1996 Manchester bombings, the 1988 Lockerbie bombing or the 2005 London subway bombings, the most serious attacks on the U.K.’s territory in recent memory. Nor do nuclear submarines guard against the growing threat of cyber-attacks, a mounting concern for the future.

e. The U.K.’s nuclear program is built for a one purpose, to respond to the inconceivable event that an advisory launches an unprovoked nuclear strike on Britain. There is simply no evidence that this has ever been a realistic threat. Furthermore, if the U.K. were to disarm, it would still be protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella. If American nuclear weapons are sufficient to protect South Korea, whose capital is within artillery range of North Korea, then it should be more than capable of reassuring the British, who are thousands of miles away from any hostile nuclear nation.

f. Finally, Britain’s leaders should recognize that the escalating cost of nuclear weapons damages their standing with NATO allies. The United States has no need for the U.K.’s nuclear program, having 14 nuclear submarines and more than 1,825 deployed nuclear warheads of our own. Meanwhile, NATO’s other major members also care little about Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet. France has its own nuclear arsenal, while Germany is predisposed against nuclear weapons. Thus, the continuation of Britain’s nuclear forces does little to strengthen its alliances.

g. In contrast, Britain’s allies care about reinforcing economic ties to the U.K. By spending billions on nuclear weapons, the United Kingdom is diverting money away from international trade. This harms the economies of both the U.K. and its major trading partners including the United States. Similarly, Britain’s allies are concerned about its inability to maintain conventional forces. The U.K. has been a stalwart American ally and member of NATO, contributing significant forces to the campaigns in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. The U.K.’s allies are concerned about the British forces stationed beside them rather than a fleet of submarines that have done little but cruise around the Atlantic Ocean for 40 years. While Scotland has elected to preserve the union, Britain’s leaders should abandon their nuclear weapons program.

12. December 2014 Biggest Faslane March Against Nuclear Weapons For 30 Years

a. The Scrap Trident demonstration at Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde yesterday was the “biggest in three decades,” according to organisers. Around 1,500 protestors marched from Faslane Peace Camp to the gates of the Trident submarine base to call for the weapons to be scrapped. David Mackenzie of Scrap Trident told the Star: “This is the biggest Faslane demo I have seen in three decades. “We were aware during the independence referendum that opposition to Trident seemed to be growing exponentially. “This was the first real test of whether that is true — and it is clear there is a change afoot.”

b. Buses brought campaigners from all over Scotland, including several from Glasgow and Edinburgh, contingents from as far as the Borders, Fort William and even a minibus from Assynt in the north-west Highlands. “There’s a feeling of the whole of Scotland being here today,” Mr Mackenzie said. “Previously on weekend demos you would get a couple of hundred folk — but this is different. “There is a massive age range too, with lots of young people — it’s not just all old peaceniks.” The Scrap Trident coalition includes Scottish CND, Trident Ploughshares, Radical Independence Campaign, the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party.

c. Mr Mackenzie said that a clear majority of the people in Scotland want to see Trident scrapped. “Although opposition to Trident was a central part of the Yes campaign, which attracted 45 per cent of the vote, there was also a significant percentage of No voters who believe passionately that there is no place for Trident in Scotland,” he said. “With spending on health, education, pensions and disability benefits being slashed we believe that squandering £100 billion on even more nuclear weapons is immoral and unreasonable and we call for Trident to be scrapped and human needs funded.” The Faslane demo was the first of a series of actions by the coalition designed to ramp up pressure on Westminster MPs who will be taking the decision in 2016 of whether to go ahead with replacing the current Trident system. A demonstration in Glasgow is planned for March 28 followed by a full blockade of the Faslane Trident base on April 13.,500-join-biggest-Faslane-march-against-nuclear-weapons-for-30-years


The waters of the Clyde – Forth – Tay Estuaries and Many Other Offshore Areas are contaminated after many years of illegal dumping of Toxic Waste by the MOD and others – And they ain’t done yet – The legacy our children will inherit





Archive files have revealed dumping sites.



13 July 2016: Shocking extent of radioactive waste dumped in Scottish seas

Documents have emerged which show more than 75,000 luminised dials coated with radium were tipped into the Tay Estuary after the Second World War.

Archive files from the 1950s also reveal how radioactive waste from a Dundee plant was secretly dropped into the waters below the Forth Bridge, less than a mile from a radium-contaminated beach at Dalgety Bay in Fife.

The archive files also show other dump sites around Scotland and how waste and sludge from nuclear submarines based at Rosyth Dockyard was regularly being deposited in the Firth of Forth during the 1960s.

Documents at the National Records of Scotland show the now-defunct electronics firm Ferranti Ltd dumped scrap from its Dundee radio valve manufacturing plant in the Firth of Forth at North Queensferry every three or four months between 1954 and 1956 without permission.

Minutes from a Government meeting in 1957 show how national chief chemical inspector Eric Birse concluded Ferranti “had simply decided on their own that it would be a good place for dumping”.

During a visit to the plant in October 1956, the Radiological Protection Service told Ferranti that “the quantities involved could well present a hazard and that you should obtain approval for your dumping point and quantities to be dumped”.

The dumping spot is close to the beach in Dalgety Bay which has been closed because of radium contamination.

The beach was used to break up to 800 planes after the Second World War and the contamination there is thought to come from the instrument dials on the aircraft which had been illuminated by paint containing radium.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency last year blamed the Ministry of Defence for the contamination, which is being released as the headland erodes.Defence chiefs have disputed its findings.

Documents at the National Records of Scotland also show how the now-defunct Dundee firm UK Time a forerunner to Timex arranged a deal with local fishermen to put 35,000 luminised dials coated with radium into drums and dump them in the Tay Estuary in 1949.

The arrangement, according to Scotland Office papers, continued for eight more years at an estimated 5,000 dials a year before dumping was switched to the UK Government’s site at Beaufort’s Dyke between Northern Ireland and Scotland.”











August 1994; Rosyth to become ‘nuclear graveyard’ says local MP Gordon Brown

The Tory government insisted that ‘storage afloat’ of Britain’s decommissioned nuclear submarines would not compromise safety, after leaked defence documents revealed proposals to moor the vessels at Rosyth naval dockyard indefinitely.

Local MP Gordon Brown, said the plans would turn Rosyth into a ‘nuclear graveyard’. The leaked proposals came as an ironic second blow for dockyard workers who were told last year that Rosyth, Fife, had lost a drawn-out battle with Devonport for the £5bn order to refit the Trident submarines.

Brown, whose Dunfermline East constituency includes Rosyth, attacked as ‘totally unacceptable’ plans to moor seven decommissioned nuclear submarines at the dockyard, while long-term policy was formulated.

Brown said the documents showed safety restrictions at the site were to be downgraded. One proposal was to set aside only £30,000 a year until 2004 for the upkeep of the submarines.

The document suggests that the body for dealing with safety questions will be moved almost 100 miles to Faslane, Strathclyde, and tugs suitable for moving the nuclear submarines are to be located 600 miles away at Devonport.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman emphasised that no decision had been made about future storage of the submarines at either Rosyth or Devonport. Four decommissioned nuclear submarines are already moored at Rosyth with another three at Devonport.

Brown said that the proposals were contained in a leaked government document marked ‘Urgent Restricted’, which he was confident was authentic.

The Government had promised to produce a consultative paper setting out its options for disposal of decommissioned submarines. But this has not yet appeared.

Brown said: ‘My fear is that they have no intention of making proposals at all, and that short- term proposals will turn into medium-term proposals, which will turn into long-term proposals.’

Decommissioned submarines have their highly radioactive nuclear fuel removed, and sent to the BNFL site at Sellafield. The reactor itself is less radioactive and is left in place within the hull.

The MoD said that once the highly radioactive fuel was removed, decommissioned submarines ‘present no hazard to residents near the dockyards or to the workforce. Safety is paramount’.

Brown said: ‘We will not allow the Rosyth area to be frozen by nuclear dumping or becoming a nuclear graveyard. The Government proposals cannot be allowed to go ahead.’

Update:  at 2016 the decommissioned submarines remain dumped at Rosyth








August 2004; Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd’s strategy for decommissioning the Rosyth nuclear licensed site

The Rosyth Dockyard in Fife, Scotland comprises a nuclear licensed site and a non-licensed site, both of which contain facilities used to support the refitting and maintenance of nuclear powered submarines.

Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd (RRD) is the owner of the facilities on both of these sites and is responsible for decommissioning of these facilities, including management of the resulting waste. RRD is the holder of the nuclear site licence.

Ownership of the waste rests with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which bears the cost of decommissioning and waste management.









October 2008; Just where the hell are we with nuclear submarine dismantling and disposal

In the UK there are around 27 nuclear submarines awaiting decommissioning, de-fuelling and dismantling. Political decisions surrounding the disposal of nuclear compartments, radioactive wastes and spent fuel are proving to be a major headache for successive governments due to outstanding quantification and preventative measures required to resolve, to the satisfaction of the public risks associated with long-term water storage of the boats, radioactive and chemical contamination, spent fuel and waste management, and handling and recycling reactor compartments.

It is anticipated the works will take around 300 years to complete.








September 2009; Babcock to Buy UK Govt.’s Commercial Decommissioning Arm for £50 Million

Babcock International last week agreed to buy the full commercial arm of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)—a UK government body that provides nuclear decommissioning, waste management, and new nuclear build support services—for £50 million.

The sale follows the government’s announcement in March this year that the UK Atomic Energy Authority was seeking a buyer for UKAEA Ltd.

Its decision to withdraw from the clean-up side of its nuclear sector marked a departure from policies to keep decommissioning and waste management services state-owned.

“The sale of the business will help to reinforce the UK’s strong heritage in the nuclear industry and provide a platform for the further development of skills in this important marketplace,” the government said in a press release on Friday.

“The new ownership structure will help give UKAEA Limited greater commercial focus on its operations, allowing it to capitalise on its core skills, strong track record and brand and I am confident that it will continue its growth in the UK and internationally under Babcock International’s ownership,” said Business Secretary Peter Mandelson.








November 2009; Deep Sea Burial off Barra – Final disposal of nuclear waste

Inexpert work and inexperienced operatives are more likely to cause accidents and take wrong decisions on the hoof. Deficiencies in these areas would aggravate any environmental risk arising from such activity.

For evidence of the phenomenon we are identifying here, one has only to look at the hicksville that was Doonreay in its pomp – chucking nuclear waste down a rock cleft. This is the real issue for watchfulness into the future.

At the moment, nuclear waste goes into containers and his held secure in a number of open sites in Scotland. But this is a holding operation, albeit a mid-term, (2040) holding operation.

According to the experts, we are at least 30 years away from having a secure deep-burial final location for such waste.

Unable to neutralise radioactive material, the existing primitive risk ridden solution is all there is, operating at little more than best guesstimates of the time-frames within which the material can be assumed to remain secure.

Deep-burial will involve drilling 1,000 metres down into rock shown by geological surveys to offer stability, then inserting nuclear waste in secure jacket containers and sealing up the facility.

It is obvious how many points of potential failure exist in such a proposed procedure. We know that Scotland’s seabed south of the archipelago of the Isle of Barra has shown the sort of geological reassurance the MoD is looking for. And we know that the imperial mindset will always look to dispose of risk in what are perceived as the colonies.

The procedures that would apply should the MoD wish to use deep-burial procedures for nuclear waste in a marine location in Scottish waters require the permission of the Crown Estate, (not devolved to the Scottish parliament) which owns and generates revenue from the UK’s seabed out to the 12-mile limit.

Since there is little doubt that the current Scottish Government would not be minded to offer such permission Westminster may introduce changes in the law so that they would not need to seek consent from the Scottish Government, through Marine Scotland, under the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) to dump such waste in this way.

Such solutions are untested, short-term responses to a very profound problem. They will do nothing other than get the stuff out of sight and, in political terms, out of mind.

We would be – literally and irresponsibly – burying time-bombs. The Scottish nation should be ever watchful and stand ready to resist the introduction of a policy to locate deep burial sites for nuclear waste disposal on Scotland’s land or marine territory.








October 2011; Submarine Dismantling Project

Following public consultation, the Ministry of Defence decided that initial dismantling of the submarines will take place at both Devonport and Rosyth Dockyards and that the Reactor Pressure Vessel from each submarine will be removed and stored whole.

Further public consultation, on the selection of a site for the interim storage of Intermediate Level radioactive waste from the submarines, is planned to be carried out in 2014.








August 2012; MoD planned to dump old nuclear submarines in sea

A secret MoD briefing found in the UK National Archives reveals the ministry’s “technical preference” was to dispose of the radioactive hulks at sea without dismantling them. Dumping in this way, however, would raise “many environmental and other issues”, it said.

Since Britain’s first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, was taken out of service 30 years ago,(still to be found in dock at Rosyth) the MoD has been trying to work out how to get rid of its reactor. Over the decades it has been joined at Rosyth by six other retired nuclear submarines.

Since 2000 the MoD has conducted a series of prolonged public consultations on what to do with all the submarines’ radioactive remains. The latest in the last year suggested that the reactor pressure vessels should be removed from the submarines at Rosyth and Devonport.

But what would then happen to them is still unclear. The MoD says it wants to work with the Government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on whether to build a new waste store, or to use current or planned stores at nuclear power station sites, like the one at Hunterston, Ayrshire.

The briefing unearthed from the UK National Archives by nuclear researcher Brian Burnell shows that the MoD has not always been so indecisive. Marked “confidential” on every page, it was prepared for Dr Dov Zakheim, a senior US defence official, ahead of a meeting in London, and sent in August 1981 by Newman Beaumont, an MoD section head.

How to get rid of defunct nuclear submarines was a “major issue”, the briefing warned. “Disposal by cutting up and burial on land in the UK or long-term laying up at UK berths are not favoured due to practical, financial and environmental reasons.” It continued: “The MoD technical preference is for dumping the whole defuelled submarine at sea, which is considered to be the cleanest, safest and most practical solution.” Defining the submarine as low-level radioactive waste, the briefing concluded, “should mean that there is no strictly legal bar to its disposal at sea but this raises many environmental and other issues”. The MoD dumped thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste in the English Channel and the northeast Atlantic from 1946 to 1983. In 1993 the MoD agreed to an indefinite ban on dumping radioactive waste at sea.









March 2013; Rosyth: No to a nuclear dump.

It was announced in March 2013 that Rosyth will be one of two sites in the UK (along with Devonport ) where decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines will be dismantled. Radioactive waste will be removed from the boats at the site, but no plan is yet in place for what to do with this dangerous material.

This kind of activity carries the risk of radioactive leaks contaminating the local environment, with possible adverse health and safety effects on the local community.

It is therefore particularly worrying that this is set to take place in Rosyth, which is very close to Edinburgh the capital city of Scotland with a population of around a half a million people.

The base, which is situated alongside housing estates, does not have a good safety record, with various accidents in the past possibly causing radioactive substances to leak into the Forth.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced a new Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) policy in March 2013, following a public consultation. There are 27 submarines which are nearing the end of their shelf life and need to be decommissioned.

After an initial trial of the radioactive waste removal process at Rosyth, the submarines will be dismantled both there and in Devonport. Submarines will be de-fuelled before the dismantling process begins. De-fuelling facilities at Devonport are currently being upgraded with funds from the MoD’s Future Nuclear Facilities programme. De-fuelling is the most dangerous operation of the entire decommissioning process.

Radioactive Reactor Pressure Vessels (each the size of two double-decker buses and weighing around 750 tonnes) will be removed from the nuclear-powered submarines at both Devonport and Rosyth Dockyards and stored intact, prior to disposal in a planned – but as yet non-existent – Geological Disposal Facility.

The MoD is yet to find a location for storing intermediate level radioactive waste. Concerns have been raised that if a suitable site is not found, Rosyth could find itself being used as a ‘temporary’ solution.

The MoD has indicated that no submarines will be dismantled until a storage site has been agreed. It remains to be seen, however, if they will maintain this position if no progress is made in locating a site, especially as a significant delay in the dismantling process would have an adverse economic effect. The next step is for the government to seek regulatory approval for the initial dismantling at Rosyth.

Local people are increasingly anxious at the possibility of increased radioactive contamination of their environment. In the recent government consultation on the submarine dismantling project, many of the responses from the community complained that it was ‘inappropriate’ to use an urban location for dismantling, due to the risk of an accident.











July 2013; MoD can’t be trusted in Rosyth either says Brown after Bay radiation row

Gordon Brown, in parliament said, “if the MoD cannot be trusted to deal with radiation contamination at Dalgety Bay, how can they be trusted with the work of dismantling and breaking up of submarines at Rosyth?” MOD assurances about the safety of Rosyth’s nuclear submarines won’t be believed after their denials in Dalgety Bay.

The MoD, which has conceded responsibility for the contamination of Dalgety Bay has refused to pay for the clean-up of the polluted beach.











December 2013; MoD to be held to account as more than 1000 radiation particles discovered at Dalgety Bay

Gordon Brown MP is to complain that action promised in Dalgety Bay by the MoD by May this year has still not happened. He will reveal the recommendations of health experts that work to clean up the bay should be carried out as soon as possible – and not be subject to further delays.

Dalgety Bay is the first area in the whole of the UK to have a polluter ‘named and shamed’ in this way – and under the legislation which saw the MoD named as the responsible party, it is at risk of being named the only radiation-contaminated area in the UK, blighting the houses and local amenities.

Waste from Dalgety Bay is being stored in the special waste facility at Rosyth but there can be no agreement to long-term storage of nuclear waste from decommissioned submarines at the site as long as local fears about safety along the coast at Dalgety are not properly addressed.








A town meeting of Dalgety Bay community has been called by the Community Council. This will see the community vote on the Ministry of Defence’s plan to clean up radiation from the beach. The pollution resulted from the dumping 800 wartime planes with radiated dials and other hazardous equipment, and subsequent coastal erosion that has brought the pollution to the surface.

The people of Dalgety Bay have won their long campaign to guarantee that the beach area covered in radiation particles would be the subject of an extensive clean up. The work will include removing many of the radiation particles and engineering work will be carried out to build a wall to entomb the remaining materials, preventing them coming to the surface as a result of coastal erosion.









December 2013; Fears over Rosyth nuclear submarine waste

Scotland has been chosen for the pilot project to break up some of Britain’s old nuclear submarines, prompting fears it could become a dumping ground for radioactive waste.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials will test the removal of reactors in Rosyth, but politicians and anti-nuclear campaigners have hit out at the plans, fearing nuclear waste will be dumped in the area. A total of 27 submarines are to be dismantled at UK naval bases, with one at Rosyth the first to be cut up.

The Fife yard has been home to the old vessels for years, but concerns have been raised that the site could become a toxic dump after the MoD ordered the “demonstration of the radioactive waste removal process”.

However, the pilot will not go ahead until a storage facility for the waste is identified and further consultation is undertaken, expected to start next year.

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP said: “The Ministry of Defence’s approach to nuclear safety in Scotland clearly leaves a lot to be desired.“ Instead of experimenting with cutting up these submarines and worrying about the consequences later, the MoD needs to put a credible plan in place for what to do with the radioactive parts of these subs before it begins work.”

The Nuclear Submarine Forum, a coalition of pressure groups, has called for an end to building such vessels until a proper way of dealing with the resulting waste is found.









January 2014; Gordon Brown escapes scrutiny from BBC over Dalgety Bay scandal despite inaction when Prime Minister

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has escaped questions over his role in the scandal that has led to the radioactive contamination of Dalgety Bay after the MoD was formally named as the polluter.

Brown, who is the local MP, refused to act when warned about the contamination five years ago when he was UK Prime Minister. Despite this, the former Labour leader is now attempting to portray himself as a leading campaigner calling for the MoD to clean up the mess. Locals are angry amid mounting fears that the area may now be closed down to the public.

In a report on BBC Radio Scotland, the former PM faced no questions from reporter Glenn Campbell over his inaction. The BBC Scotland reporter told listeners the Labour MP was someone “who has been campaigning on this”.

The lengthy piece heard Brown say he was “shocked and dismayed” at the lack of action from the MoD. Mr Brown called on the MoD to clean up the mess and remove risky contaminated material, claiming “it’s not too expensive”.

However, as revealed by Newsnet Scotland as far back as December 2011, Gordon Brown did little to facilitate a clean-up of the area when he was Prime Minister, despite being made aware of the issue two years earlier.

In 2009 when Brown was Prime Minister, the MoD’s own scientists refused to analyse material from the site because of the risk it could give them cancer. Despite this, the MoD continued to resist pressure to pay for a clean-up of the radioactive pollution.

In 2011, the Ministry also continued to play down the possible health risks for members of the public even though official minutes from a meeting in 2009 revealed that MoD scientists had such grave concerns over the contamination that they refused to handle it.

In 2011 after losing the general election, Brown made a rare appearance in the House of Commons and bizarrely gave a speech calling for a debate on the issue, suggesting the seriousness of the situation was new.

Speaking in front of MPs, Mr Brown said: “I call this debate for one purpose and one purpose only, to persuade the Ministry of Defence of the need for urgent action in an area in my constituency where radioactive materials have been discovered.”

The naming of the MoD as the culprit follows years of investigation work carried out by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). According to SEPA, the area around the bay was contaminated by radioactive material caused by the dumping of components from old World War 2 aircraft.

Concerns for the Fife beach rose after hundreds of radioactive contaminated fragments were discovered by scientists working for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of the material discovered was been described as being so radioactive that it would cause burns if touched. The Dalgety Bay discoveries were made after the MoD had conducted a survey of the area in September 2011, discovering only 33 radioactive fragments.

SEPA scientists carried out their own survey and discovered over four hundred contaminated fragments, some 76 times more radioactive than the previous discoveries.

In November 2011, the MoD refused to accept responsibility for the contamination, something condemned by SNP MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Annabelle Ewing.

In December 2011, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the MoD’s failure to act was “entirely unacceptable”. Ms Sturgeon also revealed that the Cabinet Secretary for rural affairs and the environment Richard Lochhead had already written twice to the UK Secretary of State for defence urging the MOD to take immediate action, but had received no reply.

In 2012, Annabelle Ewing also revealed how Westminster knew of the contamination half a century ago, (Dalgety Bay is built on the old RNAS Donibristle/HMS Merlin airfield.

After the Second World War the airfield was used to break up redundant aircraft and the waste was used to reclaim land. Included in that waste was traces of radium from the luminous paint used on instrument dials) but kept the revelations secret.

Responding to reports that the MoD was still trying to get out of its obligation to clean up radiation at Dalgety Bay, Ms Ewing said: “Local residents of Dalgety Bay and Fifers from across the Kingdom have been waiting decades for this mess to be cleaned up. “A SEPA investigation last year found the MoD were solely responsible for the contamination.

Any suggestion from the MoD that this matter can be resolved via fences and warning signs is an insult to both local people and all who care about Scotland’s environment. “There can be no more excuses from the MoD – they need to fund and carry out a clean-up at Dalgety Bay immediately.”









February 2014; How Babcock plans to decommission UK nuclear submarines at Rosyth

Rosyth Royal Dockyards Ltd. (RRDL), a subsidiary of Babcock International Group, has applied for consent to begin the dismantling project in January 2016.

The UK nuclear regulator initiated a formal, three-month consultation on the project in late January (for which comments must be received by 21 April 2014.) after what it calls ‘considerable consultation’, the UK Ministry of Defence has chosen to remove radiated waste in-situ at Rosyth and Devonport Nuclear Licensed Dockyards.

But because of delays expected to develop an intermediate-level waste store for the Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) of ultimately 27 decommissioned nuclear submarines, MOD and Babcock have decided to split the d&d operation into two stages. (The ILW site is now expected to be identified in 2016, and operational in 2019.)

Stage one is docking a submarine and removal of low-level waste, primarily within the reactor compartment (RC). Stage two will involve removing the reactor pressure vessel and surrounding primary shield tank.

Stage 2 will only commence when the ILW interim storage solution is agreed. The plan is to dismantle a first demonstration submarine entirely, and study the process, before contracting for dismantling the remaining units. The initial project is expected to take 12 years to complete.







February 2014; Chapelcross Group of discuss submarine plan

Chapelcross Site Stakeholder Group will meet in Annan town hall on Friday to discuss the potential for storing radioactive waste from the UK’s submarine fleet at the former nuclear power plant.

The Ministry of Defence’s Submarine Dismantling Project has shortlisted the site near Annan – whose nuclear rods were removed last year after a major de-fuelling project – along with four others across the border at Sellafield in Cumbria, Capenhurst in Cheshire and at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire.

A public consultation will take place later this year to determine which of the five sites will be ultimately chosen to store reactor components from disused submarines. The chosen site will be used as an interim storage site for the reactor components until after 2040 when the UK’s geological disposal facility is planned to come into operation.











March 2014; Statement on Hazardous incident at Vulcan Nuclear Test Establishment

The MoD has on Scottish soil, and in Scottish waters, an operational test reactor; a fleet of redundant submarines awaiting dismantling; and an operational fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are Trident armed. All significant environmental hazards.

Vulcan is the test-bed for the pressurised water reactors used in Britain’s nuclear submarines. As the Defence Secretary put it, the reactors at Vulcan are “hammered”, so that any faults will show up there rather than in an operational submarine.

In January 2012, low levels of radioactivity were detected in the cooling water of the reactor. This took place in a sealed circuit, and we were reassured by the Ministry of Defence last week that there was no detectable radiation leak from that circuit.

However, there should be no radioactivity in the cooling water, and the incident was of such significance that the reactor was shut down for much of 2012 until tests and trials could be carried out. The reactor was only restarted in November 2012 – 10 months later.

The MoD believe that the problem lay in a microscopic breach of fuel element cladding, but they do not know what caused that breach. Nevertheless, they appear to be confident that the reactor can be operated safely until decommissioning begins next year.

The Defence Secretary indicated that this incident would be rated at Level 0 on the 8-point International Nuclear Event Scale, indicating that it is a mere “Anomaly” with no safety significance. Whilst that may sound somewhat reassuring, the incident led to the significant decision to shut down the reactor as a precaution for 10 months.

During 2012, SEPA became aware of an increase in discharges of radioactive gases from the site. Those discharges, at 43% of the annual limit, were within the threshold permitted by SEPA. However, they were much higher than the previous year, when emissions were only 4% of the permitted limit.

We now understand that this was probably due to the testing that took place following the shut-down. That is why the Defence Secretary was wrong when he told the House of Commons that there had been “no measurable change in the radiation discharge” – a publicly reported ten-fold increase is most certainly measurable and I am sure he will want to correct the record.

SEPA were first contacted by the MoD in September 2012 seeking a meeting, but with no details being divulged at that point. A SEPA officer responsible for Vulcan was then summoned to a meeting which took place on 11 December at the site.

At that meeting, SEPA were told about the incident; the tests that had been carried out; and the suspected cause. By then the incident had been classified as one with no safety or environmental impact, and the MoD instructed that the issue must be kept on a strict need to know basis.

Accordingly, neither SEPA senior managers nor the Scottish Government were informed. The UK Government’s own Office for Nuclear Regulation similarly confirmed what was said to SEPA as according to their own spokesperson, “We were required to keep the information on a need to know basis for security reasons.”

We now know that SEPA and Ministers weren’t the only victims of the UK Government’s veil of secrecy. When my own officials visited the site in February 2012 to discuss its decommissioning, there was no mention of any problem.

Let’s be clear. It was the responsibility of the MoD and the UK Government to inform the local community, this Parliament, and the Government, of the events at the test facility. No-one else. We therefore propose to use the forthcoming regulations under the Regulatory Reform Act to leave behind the Crown exemption for MoD sites.

We are fortunate that what we are discussing today is not a nuclear incident, but the failure of the UK Government to be open and transparent about an incident at Vulcan. Where we can act to restore public confidence, in shedding the Crown exemption, we will.

But the MoD’s handling of it – keeping SEPA in the dark for months, and Ministers, Parliamentarians and the public for much longer – is a major concern.

The MoD has again demonstrated a deep-seated culture of secrecy. This raises questions about what else they know but are not telling us. The MoD is in control of facilities which present a great potential hazard in Scotland and it appears that we cannot rely on them to volunteer information.








June 2014; Scottish independence: ‘Yes’ vote could scupper nuclear clean-up

At present, only the seven out-of-service submarines that are currently floating at Rosyth are scheduled to be dismantled there. However, space at Devonport is tight and it is expected that Rosyth would eventually have to take on much more of the dismantling work. There are a further 20 Nuclear submarine hulls at Devonport awaiting dismantling.

A number of engineering companies have registered their interest in dismantling and removing waste from 27 submarines in Devonport near Plymouth and Rosyth on the Firth of Forth. But they are understood to be concerned that a “Yes” vote for independence could complicate the 60-year programme of de-fuelling and breaking up the submarines.

The MoD has refused to draw up any contingency plans.

One industry insider said that delays were “absolutely” a risk, but that the Navy just “laughs off independence as something that isn’t going to happen”. The US has large decommissioning facilities, but these are nearly full to capacity. Sending vessels there would also add to the cost, said to be about £60m a submarine.





17. September 2014; Adverse effects of exposure to Low level radiation underestimated

Insufficient research of low level radiation risks, a matter of much voiced concern was addressed at a recent conference. Speaking during a panel session at the World Nuclear Association’s (WNA) 2014 Symposium, Roger Coates, vice president of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA), said that the nuclear industry and governments “have not been honest in presenting the risks of radiation at low levels”.

He suggested the nuclear industry should encourage its radiation protection practitioners to join the debate on presenting the risks of radiation. “If we express risks of radiation in what is defined as ‘normal’ … we will be in a more honest and better situation,” Coates said, rather confusingly. More revealingly, Willie Harris, Director of Radiation Protection at the US utility Exelon Nuclear, stated that the nuclear industry “does not have a significant amount of research in low-dose areas” in its studies and concepts, and that, in some cases, there had been a ‘mis-communication’ of radiation risks.






October 2014; Managing the use and disposal of radioactive and nuclear substances and waste

Five UK nuclear facilities have been confirmed as potential sites to store waste from decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines. A public consultation process will run from 14 November 2014 until 20 February 2015 to help determine which site is selected.

The sites, which already hold radioactive materials, are either owned by MOD, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) or industry. They are:

i. The MOD owned Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site at Aldermaston

ii. The MOD owned Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site at Burghfield

iii. Sellafield in west Cumbria, owned by the NDA.

iv. Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire, owned by the NDA.

v. Capenhurst in Cheshire, which is run by Capenhurst Nuclear Services.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, said: “When the submarines in the Royal Navy fleet reach the end of their lives we need to dispose of them in a way that is safe, secure and environmentally sound. This open and transparent public consultation process provides the opportunity to work closely with local communities near to potential sites to listen carefully to their views with the aim of delivering a solution that achieves these objectives. We value the views of those who have something to say about the submarine dismantling project. All of them will be considered properly as part of our decision-making process. After consultation we will publish a report on our findings and after we have selected a site, we will explain why we reached that decision”.

The submarine dismantling project will oversee the disposal of 27 Royal Navy nuclear submarines that are due to have left Naval service by the mid 2030’s and be defuelled, including 19 submarines that have already left service and are stored afloat at Rosyth and Devonport. The submarines can only be completely dismantled once reactor components, which are categorised as radioactive waste, have been removed. The initial dismantling process will support up to 60 skilled jobs.

There will be a series of exhibitions and workshops close to all 5 sites – which were previously announced on a provisional shortlist on 13 February 2014, plus 2 national workshops. The site chosen will be used for interim storage of reactor components until after 2040, when the UK Geological Disposal Facility (a deep geological site for the permanent disposal of spent fuel and nuclear waste) is complete.

The Scottish government is furious that a site north of the border, Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire, has been shortlisted as a location that could store radioactive waste removed from the submarines. When the shortlist was revealed in February, Holyrood environment minister Richard Lochhead wrote to UK Defence minister Philip Dunne demanding that the waste should not be dumped in Scotland.

Dismantling cannot start until a storage site for the 90-to-135-ton reactor pressure vessels, which hold the submarines’ nuclear cores, is agreed upon.





October 2014; SEPA’s Approach to Regulating Civil and Ministry of Defence Premises

The MoD has a specific programme for deciding on the most appropriate way of dismantling and disposing of submarines. It is called the Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) and includes an Advisory Group (on which SEPA is represented) to ensure effective stakeholder involvement.

The public were consulted on the MoD’s proposals for dismantling the UK’s redundant and de-fuelled nuclear-powered submarines and its assessment of any environment effects it will have.

Submarine dismantling will be closely regulated by a number of independent bodies, including SEPA, to ensure it is conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible way.







November 2014; Dounreay Prototype Fast Reactor Sodium Fire

The Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) sodium tank farm houses four tanks that contain sodium residues from the operation of the reactor. On October 6, following operations in the PFR sodium tank farm to remove the residue sodium from a redundant tank, the tank was left overnight under surveillance. In the early hours of October 7, the Dounreay fire brigade was alerted by an alarm from the tank farm. About the same time, an operator undertaking surveillance heard banging noises and saw smoke, and also called the on-site fire brigade. The fire brigade arrived promptly and quickly extinguished the fire. The area was monitored by the fire brigade until it was deemed that there was a low probability of re-ignition. We continued to monitor the situation and the area was kept under surveillance, until the residues from the fire were cleared up.

The initial investigation confirmed the probable mechanism for the initiation of the fire and concluded radioactivity may have been released, via an unauthorised route. SEPA were informed. It also indicated that there were a number of aspects that required further investigation. The level of the investigation was increased to ensure that the full picture of the reasons for this incident were understood. The investigation thoroughly checked each aspect of the work and identified procedural non-compliances and behavioural practices that were factors in the incident, and fell short of the values and standards expected of our people. It also confirmed the release of radioactivity via an unauthorised route.

Direct action has been taken to stabilise the situation and stop work in the tank farm area. It will not be re-started until the authority is satisfied with improvements. A dedicated team led by a senior manager will be responsible for a safety improvement plan focused on learning lessons from this and other incidents and ensuring there is improvement in the way we undertake work. This improvement plan will be wide ranging and ensure the whole site recognises the improvements that must be made. chapelcross