Fox opens door to non-Trident based deterrent

Analysis of Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s speech to the Conservative party conference this afternoon.

Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox opened the door to a non-Trident based nuclear deterrent in his conference speech today.

Calling for a “minimum nuclear deterrent” that guarantees a “round the clock, submarine based nuclear deterrent,” Dr Fox did not reference a renewal of the controversial Trident system.

Indeed, if the objective is a “minimal nuclear deterrent” this could be achieved through a shift to a nuclear missile armed Astute-class model of deterrence.

He said:

“Some things cannot change. In a world where unpredictable and rogue states are developing nuclear weapons it would be indefensible for Britain to give up its minimum nuclear deterrent.

“We cannot know what risks we might face in the future. That is why a future Conservative Government will never leave this country open to nuclear blackmail and we will guarantee a round the clock, submarine based nuclear deterrent for as long as it is needed.”

On the other hand, if Conservative policy continues to call for the renewal of Trident this would create a potential contradiction between Dr Fox’s stated objective of a “round the clock, submarine based deterrent” and his previous support for a cut in the number of Trident armed submarines from four to three. Defence experts have raised doubts about whether this would be sufficient for a 365 days a year submarine based deterrent.

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