Just realised that i have completely failed to mention my outing to the Scottish Parliament a few weeks ago to partake in a round-table discussion to gather public opinion on the Government’s proposal to replace our current nuclear weapon system – Trident.
Basically, it breaks down like this. The UK currently has between 165 and 200 nuclear warheads which are stored/fired from 4 vangaurd class submarines through the Trident II missile system. Each submarine can carry up to 16 missiles, which can each carry up to 12 warheads. Sounds like a shit load of power? It is!
The government is currently debating whether we should replace the current Trident system, as it is believed that it will be obsolete in around 15-20 years, and it will take around that time to design and build a new system. The main reason for having nuclear weapons is as a deterrent to other countries.
The UK is one of 5 signatories of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) which have nuclear weapons, the other 180 (or so) signatories do not. Pakistan and India did not sign the treaty and currently have nuclear weapons, Israel did not sign the treaty, and it is believed that they have nuclear weapons. North Korea originally signed the treaty, then broke their agreement and developed nuclear weapons as well.
As it stands – UK, USA, China, Russia and France are allowed to own nuclear weapons through the NPT, North Korea, Israel, Pakistan and India all have them outside the NPT and Iran possibly wants some. There is speculation that other countries might, but nothing is proven.
Supposedly, we have nuclear weapons as a deterrent against threats, and there is a view that we should replace the current system so that we have them as a deterrent for the future.
I strongly oppose this argument. I understand the benefits of having weapons as a threat, but that does not give us the right to have any. It reminds me of a fact i heard once, that if you own a gun, you are far more likely to get shot than if you do not.
No one should ever use a nuclear weapon. The US was wrong to use them on Japan and it should never happen again. The warheads that we have today are up to 10 times more powerful than those used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and one missile can carry up to 12 warheads! One nuclear explosion today would truly have a global impact.
If the UK was nuked, i would not expect us to fire back, so i disagree with having weapons as a deterrent. I understand that this is a controversial view, but an eye-for-an-eye doesn’t count when you are talking about taking millions of lives. A country does not fire a nuclear weapon, a person does. They may be responsible for their actions, but the people that live 100 miles down the road certainly are not.
Iran and North Korea are the two main states that are causing distress of the nuclear issue as generally we don’t like the political situations in those countries. My suggestion, let’s save the £15 or £30 billion that we would spend on a new weapons system to go about learning why these countries want weapons in the first place, and try to work out how we can stop that.
In my experience, people act aggressively when they are scared, or when they are pushed into a corner. If these countries didn’t fear their own safety, we wouldn’t have to fear ours.
I was going to post links to the Government’s petition page, however the treaty to not replace Trident closed on 17th Feb 07 with over 13,500 signatures. The treaty in support of replacing Trident is currently open with 77 signatures, but i will not post the link. A rather blatant display of public opinion!
At the close of the round-table discussions, all those that attended were asked to raise their hands, either in support of the NPT and to not replace Trident, or to build a replacement and continue holding nuclear weapons. 2 people out of over 100 voted for replacement.