Trident is the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent. Except that it isn’t independent and it doesn’t deter anyone. It is nuclear though, so we do have that. Apparently, Trident is our ticket to sit down with the big boys, to strut around as part of the Nuclear Club, to be on the right side of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (the side that does all the shouting about non-nuclear states and quietly does nothing about its own disarmament obligations). Narrow-minded political commentators on the right in the UK regularly pull out this argument as a reason for keeping or renewing Trident, despite its obscene cost and highly dubious (at best) morals. And that tells you more or less all you need to know about international politics at the highest levels. It’s just Playground Bullies Redux. He who has the biggest stick wins.
Trident isn’t independent (the missiles are leased from the US, the warheads, although assembled at Aldermaston, are based very firmly on US technology, the re-entry vehicle navigation software is American, and so on), but Scotland might soon be. Which might pose a tiny little problem for the Royal Navy, since the only places in the UK where they can harbour and replenish their missile boats are in Scotland. Oops.
From the Guardian this morning:
Asked during the referendum debate in the Scottish parliament last week whether the government of an independent Scotland would do a deal to keep Trident, the first minister Alex Salmond replied: “It is inconceivable that an independent nation of 5.25m people would tolerate the continued presence of weapons of mass destruction on its soil.”
I don’t know if it will really happen. People tend to get all serious about nuclear weapons, and there might be some sort of “deal” done, backed by threats, but I honestly love the idea of Alex Salmond wagging his finger at David Cameron yelling “Oot! Oot, ya wee eejit! An’ tek yon dam’ missals wi’ ye!”.
My Freude is quite quite schaddly tonight...