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Comfort Blanket or Weapon of War: What Is Trident for?

Michael MccGwire
International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-)
Vol. 82, No. 4 (Jul., 2006), pp. 639-650
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3874149
Page Count: 12
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Comfort Blanket or Weapon of War: What Is Trident for?
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Abstract

A hangover from the Cold War, Britain's nuclear capability has acquired a totemic quality and, in some unexplained way, is expected to shield us from unspecified dangers. There has been no serious attempt at cost-benefit analysis and such as there is ignores opportunity costs: policies or procurement foregone. The most important are political and the more significant-the things Britain could do or achieve if it did not have a nuclear capability-relate to our role in the world and, more specifically, to the NPT. This is a national issue which does not depend on international negotiations or agreement. In drawing conclusions, the article therefore ignores the larger question of whether the global elimination of nuclear weapons is both desirable and feasible. This international issue is addressed in a separate final section.

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