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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 7:37 pm 
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Part of this election centres on the replacement of the 4 Vanguard class Trident submarines with, well, more of the same. Basically old subs being replaced by new ones.

The idea is that the UK retains one sub on station, lost and invisible in the vast Atlantic spaces, while one is being readied for sea, one receives maintenance and one is overhauled. The deterrence being that the one sub always on station (continuous-at-sea), deterring a nuclear armed enemy from attacking in the knowledge they ensure their own destruction. These 4 subs are nearing their lifespan (25 years) and should start the decommissioning process towards the end of the decade (there is some debate of dates as maintenance systems allow extensions to missile lifetime).

The debate is whether the UK should maintain a similar fleet to the existing Vanguard subs. Tony Blair's government announced in 2006 that the UK should develop and maintain a viable independent nuclear deterrent. They chose a straight replacement, similar new subs with Trident missiles, both updated with modern electronics and design improvements. The cost then was estimated at £25 billion.

A long standing political opposition to nuclear weapons has been championed by the (old) labour party, but their opposition to nuclear weapons was dropped with the New Labour resurgence in the early 90s. The Lib/Dems opposition to the replacement for Trident disappeared with the chance of coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. The only opposition to nuclear weapons in the UK now resides outwith the main 3 parties.

The new con/dem government saw the spiralling costs of the Trident replacement (now estimated at nearer £100 billion), and announced that there needed to be a review of alternatives and cost reductions, due directly to the fact the UK treasury was empty!

It was a major discussion point approaching the Scottish referendum as the SNPs long standing opposition to Trident would have translated, on securing a Yes vote, in the closing of Faslane on the Clyde, which is the shore base facility for the 4 submarines. Without Faslane (or any other deepwater Scottish sealoch), the submarines would be unable to slip into deep water and disappear. They would have to remain on the surface in (relatively) shallow water, easily detectable by satellite and other means. Allowing tracking by foreign submarines to their patrol station, thus negating their invisibility and risking their destruction, removing their deterrent effect.

The opposition to nuclear weapons is complex. Moral objections to the existence of such appalling weapons is one, irrelevance of size compared to US and post Soviet stockpiles, cost compared to more effective conventional forces on the ground, lack of REAL enemies it would deter, Lack of real independence in the system (would US/UN allow us to use it anyway?).

Discuss!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 7:57 pm 
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For me personally it is not necessary to go beyond the moral argument.

The deterrent is only credible if you are prepared to use it. Using it would kill millions of innocent civilians.

You can call me naïve, but that is how I feel.

There are of course all sorts of practical arguments, in particular in terms of the nature of the threats we currently face and are likely to face in future, but to me these are subsidiary to the moral argument. Trident is an obscenity we need to put behind us.

As for the people who say we need the jobs - 500 jobs versus the lives of millions of innocents - come on, no-one really think s like that, do they? The jobs argument is so morally bankrupt it doesn't deserve a minute's consideration.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:24 pm 
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The moral argument is a powerful one but has never been enough after 50 year of CND proetsts.

This blogger, Lib/Dem campaigner puts up a good argument against nuclear deterrence - http://www.predictableparadox.co.uk/201 ... deter.html

the short version is that non of the countries with nukes have either the UK on their target list or the insanity to attack us without being attacked first. Something we wouldn't do.

So who is it deterring?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:33 pm 
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Stevie Jarron wrote:
So who is it deterring?


The pro-Trident faction must be delighted that Putin is misbehaving as the decision date looms.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:41 pm 
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But that has a bearing on the whole argument.

Why would Putin, for any reason ever attack the UK with nuclear weapons. Just us, nobody else? Surely he'd attack a wider (and US included list of enemies).

If and it is a huge if... he was mad enough to launch everything he had at everybody and everybody naturally lauches back at Russia (the Mutually Assured Destruction hypothesis), then Russia (and everybody else can expect to be glowing toast, WITHOUT the addition of the paltry (in comparison) payload of one of our subs (remember only one would be on station!).

How more destroyed does your enemy need to be that totally destroyed!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:50 am 
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Stevie Jarron wrote:
The opposition to nuclear weapons is complex. Moral objections to the existence of such appalling weapons is one, irrelevance of size compared to US and post Soviet stockpiles, cost compared to more effective conventional forces on the ground, lack of REAL enemies it would deter, Lack of real independence in the system (would US/UN allow us to use it anyway?).

The above statement is absolutely correct in every point made.
So why do our political masters insist on the need to replace the system when they know it will NEVER be used?
Would they build 4 new nuclear power stations with no intention of ever using them? no, of course not.
This is all about perceived 'National Prestige' and the desire of our leaders to have a 'Prime Ministerial Digit' on 'The Big Red Button' and nothing more.
We are being asked to pay (£25b in 2006, £100b now?) to allow the idiot who enters No. 10 in May the perceived right to swagger about the World and feel he's a member of some sort of exclusive club.
:saltire


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 3:18 pm 
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So there we have three proponents of the argument against Trident .
Just for the sake of redessing the balance, could I make these points.
A nuclear deterrent is a deterrent - it is there to DETER - and up to this point in time it has done so.
There are states who have this nuclear capacity, and more who aspire to do so, and despite anyone's best intentions they will probably be able to do so at some time in the future. So the number of states with this capability is likely to increase instead of decrease.
The chances of each state renouncing their nuclear capability, as an agreement by the whole, and also destroying the capability, are absolutely NIL.
Therefore, it is surely self evident that from bows and arrows up to gunpowder, biological weapons, sarin, and nuclear fusion, it is a fact that any aggressor who has a superior weapon for intiminated a victim will act as a threat to world peace.
The argument that nuclear wars would have large scale civilian casualties is indefensible, as the current non-nuclear conflicts have resulted in far higher civilian casualties than the armed combatants - and it could be argued that the proliferation of the human race, if allowed to go unchecked would soon exceed both the area and wherewithal to sustain them ( without any reference to climate change).
Coming back to the basic point of the argument - If I can deter a threat from an aggressor, I am able to lead a reasonably stress free existence, bar threats from volcano's, earthquakes, or extreme weather conditions, but these are beyond human control.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:20 pm 
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jimcee wrote:
it is surely self evident that from bows and arrows up to gunpowder, biological weapons, sarin, and nuclear fusion, it is a fact that any aggressor who has a superior weapon for intiminated a victim will act as a threat to world peace.

Quite correct Jim, the USA and the 'New' Russia are the countries in this category. So there really isn't any point in the 'Wee UK' running around with the equivalent of a nuclear popgun since we're so clearly outgunned.
But to pay for the privilage of a seat at the nuclear table we've reduced our armed forces to such an extent that the only way we could halt a conventional invasion from walking in under our nuclear brolly is to nuke it, and we can't do that for fear of 'nuclear escalation' . It's a ridiculous all or nothing situation.
I read recently that we have more Admirals than ships, if true we're in a laughably vunerable position.
The fact that the Human Race is heading for extinction by it's own hand doesn't mean we have to hurry it along with a nuclear holocaust.
:saltire


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:59 pm 
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The deterrent factor is unproveable.

I could as easily say that I have a smalll stone in my pocket that keeps tigers away! Don't believe me - have you seen any tigers around?

Yes there has been no nuclear holocaust since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but that is probably down to many factors and nothing to do with the UK deterrent. My worry is more about an accident or the theft of a device than any nutter being in charge trying to use them.

There are lots of papers out there that suggest that without direct US approval we couldn't launch. The US can just switch off the targetting satelittes that Trident uses and the things would drop from the sky. They only "let" us have them so they don't look bad on their own. So it's not an independent capability as it is sold to the UK tax payer.

I just think they are a sickening waste of money, always have been. Who are we deterring against?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:15 am 
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John F Kennedy said " Mankind will have to finish with wars, before wars finish off mankind"
We have had nuclear capability for 70 years now, yet it has never been used since it was instrumental in finishing off the last World War.
And all other conventional offensive weapons have been in plentiful supply and used prolifically in outbreaks of disagreement almost continuously since then.
There is a thriving Arms industry eager to supply anyone with the wherewithal to pay for them.
We are fortunate in that nuclear capability, although widely available technically, is only the province of states - currently.
There are still nutters around who think that sabre rattling is good for business, and are willing to push their capabilities to the limit.
The current Israel/Iran standoff is a good example of how an escalation could get out of control.
So the fact that this ultimate weapon has not been used for 70 years suggests that maybe it's presence is a deterrence to it's use.
The cost could agreeably be put to better use, but I suspect that the M.O.D. would appropriate it for more conventional use. More soldiers would certainly help the employment statistics, but a large army (unless employed successfully in peacekeeping) is of little use with the advances in long range weaponry.
It was Neville Chamberlain, I think, who said " Peace in our time", and look how long that lasted.
But since that Hitler threat was eliminated, we have had 70 years of peace here in the UK, and I suspect that the threat of "mutually assured destruction" promised by Trident, has paid a large part in deterring any would be aggressor.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 12:03 pm 
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Although I can agree with most of your post Jim, I take issue with this bit:
jimcee wrote:
But since that Hitler threat was eliminated, we have had 70 years of peace here in the UK, and I suspect that the threat of "mutually assured destruction" promised by Trident, has paid a large part in deterring any would be aggressor.

If 'Mad Vlad' decided to invade the UK for whatever reason, he wouldn't use his nuclear capability, because if he did there would be nothing to invade and not much to go home to.
He would go traditional and send his troopships/tank transports after gaining air superiority.
i.e. nobody, not even the USA in our support would go nuclear because any outcome is better than a M.A.D. outcome
This means our nuclear 'deterrent' is no deterrent at all to a belligerent power who wishes us ill. It's an irrelevance that has nothing to do with our 70 years of relative peace.
It's a tragedy that other parts of our little planet haven't been so lucky.
:saltire


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:42 pm 
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There is absolutely no proof that deterrence has worked.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:15 pm 
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OK, both the current posters suggest that deterrence is not an issue in the nuclear debate.
Perhaps they can cite the reason we have had 70 years of peace on the European Continent?
Here I am discounting what happened in the Former Yugoslavia - which was an example of what can happen when a bit of independence is forthcoming


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:44 am 
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I'm not saying that deterrence isn't and issue. I'm saying it is a red herring sold for £100b to the public that doesn't exist.

There has been no nuclear exchange since WW2 because the damage done by even small nuclear weapons is huge that the moral and military use of them is pontless. To win a war (as we did against Japan) with the aid of nuclear devices, means you have to rebuld a country and deal with 100s of thousands of injured and dying civillians at great cost to yourself and your eternal shame. No country has used nukes because no one is stupid enough to inflict that on themselves or their enemy.

UK retaliation after a strike is not even guarenteed - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8691377.stm, we may choose not to retaliate! So a non deterrent at a huge cost.

And Jim, to suggest that an democratic vote for independence in Scotland may cause a civil war with rape camps and organised genocide is a bit sick isn't it. We didn't see it happen in Ireland, Norway, Canada, Audtralia, New Zealand and many other countries that took the plunge and secceeded. Why would you instantly delve into the sewer of humaniy for your metaphor of our great country and fine people seeking independence?

Is that really what you think of your neighbours and friends? That the second we pay our tax to Holyrood instead of Westminster we'll round up different races and religions and shoot the men and boys then queue to rape the women and girls?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:16 pm 
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In reply to Steve J.
He concedes that the Nuclear deterrent may have had some influence on the fact that we have had 70 years of peace in our time, but has not cited any other reason for this situation, yet if it does some bearing on the issue, might it not be a good price for this security?
But coming back to his suggestions that my scenario of a UK split would develop into anarchy as happened in Yugoslavia - I am quite sure that the inhabitants of that fair country were similar upright citizens like our own, yet their leaders were able to incite them into a bloodbath. Our own leaders may be above reproach currently, but that is no guarantee for the future.
And those other parts of the world, cited, - Canada has a simmering problem with PQ - still unresolved, and Australia is still toying with Federalism ,maybe not quite so serious as it might just put the kybosh on future Royal visits.
I have deliberately kept clear of independence achieved from former European Colonial powers in most parts of the world, but would be delighted to enlarge on this if there is anyone out there who thinks that independence is the route to utopia.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:43 pm 
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jimcee wrote:
. . . we have had 70 years of peace in our time . . .

Really?

I seem to remember Korea, Vietnam, Iran/Iraq, the 7 Day War, 1st Gulf war, 2nd Gulf war, Falklands, Balkans, Afghanistan - just to name a handful off the top of my head.

About the only thing you can say about the last 70 years is that here has not been a nuclear war.

To claim that nuclear weapons deter nuclear war is a bit of an absurd thing, is it not?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:52 pm 
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Jim,

"He concedes that the Nuclear deterrent may have had some influence on the fact that we have had 70 years of peace in our time, but has not cited any other reason for this situation, yet if it does some bearing on the issue, might it not be a good price for this security?"

I did not concede to that! I clearly stated that selling it as deterrence was a red herring, and (as Nick points out) there has been no peace in our time. Nuclear deterrence is the crux of the debate. Why have a nuclear deterrent that does not provide a deterrent.

The UKs nuclear arms have not deterred a nuclear war. The reason we've not had one is that no one is stupid enough to use them. They are of no use to as strategic or tactical weapons as we can only use them in retaliation after a direct nuclear attack on the UK. At which point it will all be too late.

Look at the countries that have nukes China, India, Pakistan, Israel, France, Russia and the USA. None of those countries either can or would ever gain by attacking the UK with nuclear weapons. What would they ever achieve? If the UK relieved itself of the burden of nuclear weapons, the Non-proliferation treaties that most other UN members are signatories AND our status in NATO would provide us with USA cover as it does with most other NATO members. An attack on one is an attack on us all.

Your whole line on political change leading to anarchy is totally idiotic. Changing one democratic system for another is completely different to the power vacuum of a collapsed communist state into one led by warlords. You are merely being obtuse to have a dig at your utter intolerance of the other 3 debater’s wider political views.

Try and stick to the debate in hand.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:35 pm 
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Many in the military and former military men agree that the UK'ss nuclear deterrent is an anachronism

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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 12:35 pm 
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This is a must read...

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/media/2015/05/520575.pdf


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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 5:28 pm 
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I read the Scotsman and Sunday Herald articles on this and was mildly concerned, as in ," Umm, that's not so good!!"
But now having read Mr McNeilly's original report I feel there is something 'iffy' about his rather hyperbolic account that doesn't 'read well'.
Unlike Edward Snowdon, it's not backed it up with any documentary evidence, corroboration or facts, it's wholly one bloke's opinion.
While I can't condone the continued pouring of our hard earned taxes down the Trident plughole this contribution is only going to win the unfortunate Mr McNielly a lengthy spell in the Glasshouse.
:saltire


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