UK Nuclear Deterrent Policy
The UK Trident Nuclear Weapon System

A series of four articles explaining why I changed my opinion about nuclear deterrence

  • Part 1 The theory of nuclear deterrence is flawed, unproven and poses significant dangers from accidental use

  • Part 2 The cost to the UK of maintaining the Trident Force has reduced our conventional forces to an unacceptably low level, the consequences of which have dangerously reduced the nuclear threshold

  • Part 3   Commanding Officers (COs) of Trident submarines are briefed that HMG policy of 'deliberate uncertainty' - which includes the possibility of First Use and not Sole Use gainst a nuclear attack -  is lawful; however, a majority of non-nuclear weapon States disagree and so do international humanitarian lawyers.

  • Postscript Subsequent to publishing Part 3, I engaged in an online debate with a former MoD nuclear policy officer. In answer to the question posed in Part 3 he stated that, uniquely, SSBN COs were lawfully absolved from responsibility such as those imposed by the Nuremberg Principles. I disagreed. This postscript explains why. I wrote to the MoD asking if this was official Government opinion. MoD reply declined to answer the question. 

 robertforsyth¬©2019   reproduction or publishing of these papers in whole or in part without my permission is not allowed


 I commanded a diesel-powered submarine HMS Alliance, was Executive Officer (2nd-in-command) of the Polaris submarine HMS Repulse (temporarily in command),Teacher to the submarine CO's Command Course aka Perisher and commanded a nuclear-powered attack submarine HMS Sceptre.

If you want to know what I and my contemporary submariners were doing in the Cold War view this Power Point Presentation

I left the navy in 1981 to seek broader horizons and worked in industry for over 20 years.


 HMS Repulse - test firing Florida 1973

Trident Weapon System

The total capability of the present Vanguard class submarines with a full load of missiles and their warheads embarked is 128 x 100Kt warheads giving a total explosive power many hundreds of times more powerful than Hiroshima - The UK Government currently (2020) has a voluntary limit of 8 missiles and 40 warheads to be embarked in any one submarine at the same time.

If you wish to see what a nuclear explosion will do follow this link and insert 100Kt as the bomb yield in the relevant box. Note this does not predict the enormous amount of radiation fall out that would travel down wind and potentially could kill hundreds of thousands more - as happened in Japan in 1945. 

Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development & Foreign Policy (2020)

My submission to this Government inquiry summarises reasons for UK to cancel the Dreadnought programme and proposes how this could be done in such a way to minimise financial loss while also adding strength to our conventional naval forces.

Questions and Answers

The answers to  key questions on the capability of the Trident Nuclear Weapon System, the effects of a nuclear weapon, the cost and impact of Trident on UK Defence and current UK policy for its use  can be found HERE

Further Reading

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell's address to the Church Synod in July 2018 when he was still the Bishop Of Chelmsford is particularly worth reading. It made a major contribution to ending years of ambivelence by the Church of England about nuclear weapons.

Further suggestions can be found HERE or please email me.

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