Philip Hammond, the British Defense Secretary, recently announced a new £1bn investment into two new nuclear reactors – which are planned for a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines in the UK.
The announcement has come as a shock even within the coalition government, with the Trident Alternatives Report due for release later this year, seemingly already compromised by the sunk cost. The timing of the decision is not only odd because of internal division; there is also the matter of Scotland’s forthcoming referendum on independence, which, if passed, would spell the end of Scottish accommodation of the UK nuclear arsenal. With no credible alternative so far, billions could be squandered at a time when public funds are already stretched thin.
These considerations, coupled with the nearing expiration date of the UK’s nuclear weapons systems, present a golden opportunity for the British government to show bold leadership toward multilateral discussions on the elimination of nuclear weapons.