British nuclear strategy at the threshold of the 21st century

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This paper emphasizes the pertinence of the British government's claim that nuclear deterrent threats are still relevant in the four broad areas to which it addresses: deterrence against aggression towards British/NATO vital interests or nuclear coercion/ blackmail by major powers with large nuclear arsenals; deterrence against nuclear coercion or blackmail with other WMD by regional ‘‘rogue’’ states; deterrence against state-sponsored acts of nuclear terrorism; and as a general residual deterrent function to preserve peace and stability in an uncertain world.

British nuclear weapons are still important and very much relevant in all the four areas discussed. First of all, they play a role of a significant tool of political leverage as they continue to serve as an authentication of British military capabilities. In that regard, they still function much the same way they did during the ‘Cold War’. WMDs were, after all, a guarantee of their non-use, which does not mean that they were not useful. Secondly, it also authenticates the UK among its allies. Even though generally democracies do not wage wars with one another, they still have to face the challenges posed by non-democracies. In doing so, they need to support each other with the use of ‘ultima ratio’arguments in order to safeguard international peace and stability. The British nuclear deterrent should, therefore, be perceived as a general deterrent with a positive influence on international community and international security, overall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-97
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Security
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


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