‘Virtual’ arsenal could replace Trident

Ian Davis, NATO Watch, letter, Financial Times, 10 January 2013

Sir, Your excellent review of potential alternatives to “like-for-like” Trident replacement omitted one other option for weaning our political elites and the Ministry of Defence off their addiction to nuclear weapons (“The price of deterrence”, Analysis, January 10). This would involve moving the UK from so-called “minimum deterrence” to “virtual deterrence”.
By working with the Obama administration on realising the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve it, the British government could defer the Trident follow-on indefinitely. Adopting a virtual nuclear arsenal (ending the deployment of nuclear warheads but retaining the expertise at Aldermaston to reconstitute a rudimentary nuclear weapon quickly) is by far the cheapest insurance policy. It would also be more consistent with Britain’s obligation under the non-proliferation treaty to pursue disarmament negotiations in good faith, an international obligation consistently ignored by government ministers.