A portrait photo of Kate Hudson
Dr Kate Hudson
CND General Secretary
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of CND since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation's Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.

Last month the government published its latest ‘Defence Command Paper’, entitled Delivering the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent as a National Endeavour. This glossy publication spins the sorry story of imperial delusion, nuclear proliferation and international law breaking, into a breathless hype of ongoing attempts to replace Trident, develop a new warhead, and build a successor to the Astute class subs, preferably to be paid for by the Australians.

Little more than a Public Relations exercise, it ignores the reality of Britain’s nuclear weapons system. That massive drain on public resources, that is endlessly plagued with problems, from failed missile tests, to security breaches, to massively extended submarine tours of duty that put personnel at risk in dismal circumstances.

Despite the government’s best efforts to seem like a serious nuclear contender, most of the Paper is recycling old information, like the replacement of the Trident submarines, which was agreed by parliament in 2016. Reference is also made to the replacement nuclear warhead which the government committed us to in 2021 – but here we do have some news! The warhead is now referred to as ‘our sovereign warhead’, presumably to disguise the fact that it is a co-production with the US’s new warhead, and to offset observations that the system isn’t actually ‘independent’ at all. And it has a name now, too: the A21/Mk7, known as Astraea. A bit of a misnomer however: in classical mythology, Astraea is the goddess of justice, innocence, purity, and precision.

AUKUS gets a mention too – supposedly the agreement by which the US and UK facilitate the provision of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia. Reading the small print it’s now pretty clear that Australia will be making ‘a significant investment into the UK’s submarine industrial base’, for the privilege of being tied closer into the US’s military expansionism.

Some additional money is announced for infrastructure modernisation, and to help improve the quality of life in Barrow-in-Furness, where the submarines are built, but these are relatively small sums. Noticeable by its absence is any overall balance sheet of spending on nuclear – information which has been promised but not yet forthcoming.

What does seem like a change is the emphasis on tying military nukes and civilian nukes together; usually they have been kept well apart in the government narrative. Now it has been announced that the MoD will be working with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to ‘coordinate our defence activity with investment in the civil nuclear sector’. This cross-funding isn’t new, but now it’s out in the open. Senior academics have made this point very clearly in recent times – money wasted on dead-end nuclear power is in effect going to subsidise the nuclear weapons establishment. Time to redouble our work against both.

Photo credit: US Navy