Trident is not just a weapon of mass destruction

Many of the reservations about renewing Trident coming from retired generals and others focus on the fact that as a mass destruction weapon of last resort it is very unlikely for that reason ever to be used.

However Trident’s outstanding feature as a weapon is that it fires a ballistic missile from anywhere in the world with a mix of separately targetable warheads, some of which can be decoys.

One or more of these warheads could be of conventional high explosive (HE) with the capacity to destroy a precisely targeted site without the huge collateral damage and fallout from even a small nuclear warhead.  Unlike Cruise missiles, or manned bombers, the ballistic nature of the Trident missile and its huge speed makes it virtually unstoppable en route to the target.

Possible targets for such a surgical HE strike could well be the nuclear facilities of a rogue state bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, or as a warning to a state threatening British bases in Cyprus or the Falklands.

This idea of exploiting the Trident missile’s ballistic character is just about the only novel contribution to the Trident debate which has been made in years.  Too novel for the Times, alas, which has published endless letters recently from establishment figures rehashing the well-worn arguments of cost (it is equal to one year’s housing benefit spread over 10 years), hankering after undefined alternatives (there are no practical alternatives) and seemingly oblivious to the fact that not renewing Trident would leave France as the only nuclear weapons power in Europe (and put Britain under irresistible pressure to give up its permanent seat on the UN’s Security Council, which is the only locus of real power the UN actually has).

Giving up Trident in favour of housing benefit may play well at the LibDem annual conference, but it will signal to the rest of the world Britain’s irredeemable decadence (see also Defence or Housing Benefit below).

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One Response to “Trident is not just a weapon of mass destruction”

  1. Richard Tebboth says:

    Given the shock and awe from precision delivery of HE warheads, one might question why the so-called independent deterrent is needed at all. If deemed essential (to preserve our seat on the UN Security Council?) submarine launched cruise missiles could also deliver ‘the bomb’ much more cheaply. There are reports that our froggy friends have already developed this capability.

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