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The British bomb and NATO: six decades of contributing to NATO's strategic nuclear deterrent
Ian Davis

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UK strategic nuclear weapons have been a constant contribution to NATO nuclear doctrine since the late 1950s, but the exact nature of that contribution has become increasingly obscure since the end of the cold war. This report reviews the NATO political and military structures that influence the UK's nuclear weapons policy, how the UK's contribution to NATO's nuclear forces is valued by NATO allies, and the implications for NATO-UK relations of a decision not to replace Trident. The author finds that the British Government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) should clarify in public statements how they see the United Kingdoms nuclear weapons contributing to NATO’s continuing effectiveness and deterrent capability. In particular, the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) provides the perfect opportunity for the British Government to explain how it sees the proposed Trident replacement system contributing to NATO going forward. This discussion should be part of a wider debate on the future of deterrence.


Dr. Ian Davis(United Kingdom) is SIPRI's Director of Publications. He blogs on NATO-related issues at www.natowatch.org and has been following transparency and accountability issues in multilateral security organizations, especially NATO, for over twenty years.

Publisher: SIPRI
46 pp.
November 2015


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