For the last 30 years, the UK Government has been slowly reducing its nuclear arsenal. That initiative ended on 16 March 2021 when it was shockingly announced that more nuclear warheads would be added to the Trident stockpile
This news dismayed many who support the cause of nuclear disarmament. Although some might argue differently, realistically it's a blow to the chances that other countries will continue to shrink their stockpile. A nation as politically and globally prominent as the UK choosing to increase the amount of nuclear weapons they hold sends a clear message to other countries that it is a viable option.
While the aim of nuclear disarmament campaigners is to completely rid the world of the atomic threat, it is an increasingly difficult goal. Since the devastating use of nuclear weaponry in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, warheads have increased in their nuclear yield. The following years have seen those nations that already possessed nuclear weaponry concerned with two things: the maintenance and improvement of their own stockpiles, and the sanction of nations that might aspire to join them.
This is, of course, the catch-22 of the nuclear deterrent. Mutually assured destruction may well keep us safe from the sight of a mushroom cloud in the distance, but it also leads those nations into a clear hypocrisy and elitism that will only foster envy and mistrust. For example, increasing our own stockpile may make it politically difficult to challenge Russia on the development of their catastrophic Poseidon torpedoes. The ability to retaliate to any nuclear attack with one of your own is considered essential, and yet it stands against the principle of the global community of which we all are members.
There is also the growing issue of Scottish independence. At present, Trident submarines are maintained at HM Naval Base Clyde, which in the case of Scottish independence would return to solely Scottish waters. Some 520 civilian jobs depend on the Trident programme at that site. In the event that the Scottish Government chose not to lease the site to the Ministry of Defence, the programme would potentially need to be hosted by our allies
in the United States. This could mean that in order to remain working for the programme, those civilian workers may need to contact immigration attorneys
to arrange visas for themselves and their families
There is growing concern that this decision will lead to a renewal of the nuclear arms race, which shows the real issue with stockpiles of this nature. The UK presently has around 180 warheads, averaging a 100 kiloton yield. While these bombs are in no way a match for the explosive potential of some held by the United States or Russia, the collective warheads in just one of the UK's four vanguard submarines would be enough to cause severe damage and problems on a global level.
Research and modelling
explored the effect of a Trident submarine payload being detonated over populated cities. It suggests that the weather effects seen as a result of the nuclear detonations would disrupt global food supplies severely throughout the entire northern hemisphere, including the UK. Without taking into account the initial violence of the use of a nuclear weapon of this type, the aftermath of these devices would be as bad for the UK itself as for its intended target.
So, if nuclear conflict is impossible without seriously altering everyone's quality of life, why is it ever considered as a possibility?
There are many reasons why we consider nuclear war to be a very real possibility. There is the unavoidable fact that as soon as the technology was available to a major power during conflict, it was used; not once but twice. Whilst the explosive force of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs was small compared to what we are capable of today, the result of the explosions could be seen as proof of concept for future use.
Another factor to consider is that there has been an agreement to reduce the availability of nuclear weaponry since 1968. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was created to ensure that countries that did not already have access to a nuclear arsenal would not be able to gain one; and those that did would reduce theirs. In the years since the adoption of the treaty, the five countries that signed, who possess warheads, have reduced their stockpile. However, they still hold enough combined firepower to eliminate all life on earth. Just think about that for a moment. In the 53 years since the treaty was written, the countries involved have not, and do not intend to, give up the power they currently wield.
So what benefit does increasing the Trident cap have for the UK? Put simply, it sends a message both to those at home and abroad. It serves as a reminder that although Brexit has removed the UK from its long-established partnerships, it is still one of the world's major nuclear entities. In the game of geopolitics, the message will be read differently depending on the bias of those who see it.
For those who are caught up in the new nationalist thrust, it will reinforce that the UK can stand alone. Isolationism sends an exclusionary message to the brain gain of skilled workers
who might once have been attracted to settle in the UK.
Others will see it as a desperate act; an attempt for the UK to flex its military power as its global political strength wanes.
Whatever the truth behind this change in policy, it's unlikely to be ignored by other nations whether they have a nuclear option or not. Only time will tell how the world will respond to the UK's decision, but one thing remains certain. While nations continue to develop and stockpile nuclear weapons, the clock will continue to tick towards midnight.
Tom Huggins-Teasdale is a Political Correspondent for immigrationnews.co.uk, a website dedicated to highlighting immigration injustice and news