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.

3 Responses to “Fox opens door to non-Trident based deterrent”

  1. Politics Summary: Friday, October 9th | Left Foot Forward

    […] world … The thing that does need to be reviewed is the deterrence.” Left Foot Forward reported yesterday that Liam Fox had not, in his speech, mentioned Trident by name opening the door for a […]

  2. JRT

    No, as usual you are being ‘economical’ with the truth. What Dr Fox said was this: “Whether we have three or four, it’s something that would be dependent on the technology. We’re talking quite a few years ahead.” That is not giving support to a cut! There may be other evidence, but it’s not in that article. The point is that he has committed the Conservatives to providing a round-the-clock nuclear force and that can’t be based on Astute and probably can’t be based on 3 Vanguard-type subs with Trident. There is nothing, repeat NOTHING in his speech to indicate that he does not want a continuation of Trident. You are simply clutching at straws.

  3. Marcus Roberts

    JRT, why don’t we try to keep this debate going without questioning each others motives or ethics? I think the argument is interesting enough!

    On Tory support (especially from Cameron, Osborne and Clark!) for a cut from four to three:
    //www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/5267912/Trident-nuclear-replacement-could-be-cut-by-Tories.html
    //www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6845247.ece //www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6829750.ece
    I hardly think that whatever Fox may want in his heart of hearts he’s really going to prevail in a battle to make Tory policy support 4 new son-of-Trident types rather then 3.

    On converting Astute for deterrence purposes: David Davis MP //www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0907/doc14.htm Alan Whitehead MP //www.alan-whitehead.org.uk/articles/articles_2009/trident2.htm BAE Systems DSEI exhibition proposal (Concept 35: modified Astute/Vanguard hybrid) //www.dsei.co.uk/janes/07Showdaily3.pdf and BAE Systems again //www.leftfootforward.org/2009/09/budgetary-constraints-may-force-defence-spending-rethink/ as well as //www.leftfootforward.org/2009/09/replacing-trident-with-astute-could-save-45-billion/

    On leaving the door open to deterrence through means other then Trident: He could have said “Trident” but didn’t choosing to speak instead about “round the clock” “minimum” deterrence.” A Shadow Cabinet approved compromise line if ever I heard one. I personally rather think they will affirm Trident redux which as I also noted, and I think you indicate your agreement towards (“probably can’t be based on 3 Vanguard-type subs”), would certainly point to a contradiction between Fox’s desire for a “round the clock deterrent” and just 3 subs.

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