Sometimes the truth has a way of just popping out. The usual line from our government is that possessing nuclear weapons makes us safe, so how refreshing to hear another perspective from our Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond.
Last week, referring to the North Korean missile test, he said:
‘North Korea seem to think possessing a nuclear weapon makes them safe. In fact it’s the opposite. Having a nuclear weapon makes them a target.’
I couldn’t agree more. And having Trident makes us a target.
It’s time for those who back Trident to start taking their own arguments a bit more seriously. It’s not enough to describe Trident as an ‘insurance policy’. Insurance policies pay out after the worst has happened. They don’t prevent it – so that’s just a sloppy argument.
And what about the ‘deterrent’ word? This seems to rely on our enemies not knowing whether or not we would press the nuclear button or when. To reduce our national security to a ‘will-they/won’t-they press the button’ game of bluff is plainly absurd.
Meanwhile, when faced with serious evidence of new technological developments that can render Trident redundant, the same people are happy to throw around insults. When shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry referred to the possibility that cyber attack could knock out Trident’s computer systems and make it unusable, Admiral Lord West said ‘Nonsense!’ but he needs to update his knowledge and thinking. This possibility was first raised towards the end of last year by former Defence Secretary Lord Des Browne, and his since been substantiated by computer experts.
So, those who want to base our security on a massive redundant piece of twentieth century kit that makes us a target and meets none of the security challenges we face today – like climate change and terrorism, need to explain just why they think this is a good use of British taxpayers’ money.