The news is surprising: for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union more than thirty years ago, a Western country, in this case the United Kingdom, announced its desire to increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons. The announcement comes just a few weeks after the extension to 2026 of the START Treaty to Reduce Strategic Arms between Russia and the United States, and it is one of the few international governance documents still on the table to stop the arms race.
The UK’s decision to increase its stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the midst of a pandemic is irresponsible, dangerous and violates international law. Beatrice Finn, Director of ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) denounced. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) group believes that it is about ‘First step towards a new nuclear arms race’ And one “A major provocation on the world stage.”
260 nuclear warheads
In fact, the strategic security, defense and foreign policy review conducted across the channel indicates the possibility of increasing the stock of nuclear warheads from 180 to 260, that is, an increase of approximately 45%! To explain his position, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has indicated that the UK must maintain a reliable minimum level of deterrence in changing times: “It is the ultimate guarantee, the insurance policy against the worst threats of hostile nations ».
With this announcement, the British government is not violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as some NGOs claim. He affirms, loud and clear, that he belongs to the authorized nuclear powers such as France, the United States, Russia and China, and that he wants to remain at the center of the global game, despite his European marginalization. As for its analysis of the world’s gravity, which obligates it to reinforce its “insurance policy,” France has shared with it, which has just published a document updating its 2017 strategic review which also indicates intensifying competition between powers and challenging the international system.
Minimum deterrence with 4 submarines
With 260 warheads, London ultimately aspires to possess a weapon equivalent to France, which declares “fewer than 300 nuclear warheads”. In comparison, the Beginning Treaty limits the possession of nuclear warheads to 1,550 pieces of offensive weapons on the US and Russian sides. Besides the two nuclear superpowers, Paris and London remain in a purely defensive doctrine. But while France deploys the ASMPA air deterrence and the M51 naval deterrence carried by its four automatic launching submarines, the British are only resorting to their submarines. They have four, like Paris, but the last of them are equipped with American missiles.
“London is reviewing its goal in a transparent and specific manner in light of the diagnosis of the deterioration of the international environment, something that France shares.”Corentin Brustlein, Director of the Center for Security Studies at Ifri. However, that does not make him a champion of nuclear weapons. ”. The researcher states that China does not transmit any numbers for its nuclear warheads, nor India, Pakistan and Israel. To maintain a credible deterrent, London needs technology support from the United States and its announcement could also be interpreted as a cry for help while Washington considers new versions of its nuclear weapons.
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