Stepping Closer to Nuclear War

Lost in the overwhelming mainstream media coverage of all things COVID-19 was an interesting study that was released by the United Kingdom government entitled "Global Britain in a competitive age – The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy" as shown here:

Given the recent formation of the AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States) trilateral security pact to counter the influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region and the accompanying announcement that Australia will receive nuclear-powered submarines to replace its existing fleet as shown here:

"The first initiative under AUKUS is for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology, leveraging decades of experience from the US and UK.

Under AUKUS, the three nations will focus immediately on identifying the optimal pathway to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.

Over the next 18 months, Australia, the UK and US will intensely examine the full suite of requirements that underpin nuclear stewardship and demonstrate a clear pathway to becoming a responsible and reliable steward of this sensitive technology. Australia will establish a Nuclear-Powered Submarine Taskforce in the Department of Defence to lead this work.

Nuclear-powered submarines do not have the same limitations that face conventional submarines on weapons storage, speed and endurance. They can stay completely submerged for many months, limiting the opportunities for detection by adversaries.

As a three-ocean nation, it is necessary for Australia to have access to the most capable submarine technology available. As a nation, we are ready to take the step to pursue the most advanced submarine technology available to defend Australia and its national interests.

While Australia claims that it will remain nuclear weapons free as quoted here:

"Australia has no plans to acquire nuclear weapons and this proposal will remain consistent with Australia’s longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.  All three nations are deeply committed to upholding leadership on global non-proliferation."

…with the United States and the United Kingdom being nuclear powers, one should never say never, particularly since the Australian Defence Force will acquire long-range strike capabilities as follows:

1.) Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, to be fielded on our Hobart class destroyers, enabling our maritime assets to strike land targets at greater distances, with better precision.

2.) Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (Extended Range) will enable our F-A-18F Super Hornets and in future, our F-35A Lightning II, to hit targets at a range of 900km.

3.) Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (Extended Range) (LRASM) for the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

4.) Continuing collaboration with the United States to develop hypersonic missiles for our air capabilities.

5.) Precision strike guided missiles for our land forces, which are capable of destroying, neutralising and suppressing diverse targets from over 400km.

6.) Accelerating $1 billion for a sovereign guided weapons manufacturing enterprise – which will enable us to create our own weapons on Australian soil.

With this in mind, let's go back to the study mentioned at the beginning of this posting.  In this study, the current Johnson government releases its vision for 2030, outlining a framework of four issues:

1.) sustaining a strategic advantage through science and technology.

2.) shading the open international order of the future.

3.) strengthening security and defence at home and overseas.

4.) building resilience at home and overseas.

Under point 3 we find the Johnson government's vision for countering state threats which includes the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons program.  Here is how the UK will develop its already in-place nuclear deterrence:

Here are the key sentences:

"In 2010 the Government stated an intent to reduce our overall nuclear warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid-2020s. However, in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats, this is no longer possible, and the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads."

As background, here is the estimated nuclear weapons inventory for the world's nuclear-armed states:

 

While the growth from a maximum of 180 (the original planned reduction level which was announced in 2010 and again in 2015 to 260 nuclear weapons not a significant increase given the massive size of the total global inventory, it is still a rather stunning development given that the UK states the following (with bolds being mine):

"We remain committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons….We are strongly committed to full implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in all its aspects, including nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; there is no credible alternative route to nuclear disarmament. The UK has taken a consistent and leading approach to nuclear disarmament….We will continue to press for key steps towards multilateral disarmament, including the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and successful negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament. We will continue to take a leading international role on nuclear disarmament verification; this is an essential step for nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control."

It would certainly appear that the United Kingdom is planning to take the world closer to the nuclear brink as both the United Kingdom and, in particular, the United States take actions such as the AUKUS trilateral agreement with the goal of defending their positions at the top of the unipolar world, acting together to ensure that both Russia and China remain secondary military powers.  Unfortunately, Russia and China have made clear that their position will not be neutralized as shown in this recent article on Russia's TASS website:

 

Here is a quote from Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister regarding the United Kingdom's expanding nuclear arsenal and the signing of the AUKUS security agreement:

"We are concerned especially by the statements produced earlier in the year in London on future prospects for expansion of its nuclear capabilities. [We’re] also concerned by the most recent announcement by the US, the UK and Australia to develop a technologically advanced partnership that could allow Australia after eighteen months of consultations and some years of practical efforts to acquire nuclear-powered submarines in sufficient numbers to become among the first five to possess this type of similar capability."

The world is sliding closer and closer to a nuclear confrontation and with China and Russia proving that they can do far more for far less when it comes to arming their national militaries, the United Kingdom and the United States may find that they have bitten off far more than they can chew when it comes to waging war on these well-armed and very determined foes, all in the name of preserving the current unipolar world where Washington is in control of everything.

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