Posted on 25th June 2018
Trident, the UK’s nuclear submarine programme, must be scrapped to prevent nuclear annihilation, a former nuclear submarine commander has warned.
In a significant move, Rob Forsyth, who commanded nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered submarines in the 1970s for the Royal Navy, now thinks that the UK Government’s case for keeping Trident, which is located on the west coast of Scotland, is practically, legally and morally indefensible.
Speaking to Scottish newspaper, the Herald, Forsyth states:
“Trident is no longer a weapon of last resort to be used in extreme circumstances such as defence of the homeland. Present policy includes potential first use against rogue states if they ever used chemical or biological weapons against troops in the field. The general public are not aware of this.”
Forsyth also pointed out that Trident is very dependent on shared US facilities. “I cannot conceive Britain would ever fire its Trident missiles without the Americans’ political support” he added.
Some £2 billion a year is spent on ensuring that one of the four Trident submarines based at Faslane on Gareloch is always on patrol to ensure a Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD). Forsyth added:
“The UK’s conventional war-fighting capability is being sacrificed to preserve its nuclear one. Some serious questions need to be asked and answered by the national political and military leadership about not only the affordability of CASD, but also its necessity at all and/or – if it is retained – the moral context of its use.”
He called for CASD to be abandoned because, “There is no threat that justifies such an aggressive posture at present”, and said the UK, “Should offer to cancel the Dreadnought submarine programme as a significant bargaining tool in multilateral negotiations.”
Forsyth also argued that the UK should stop ignoring the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons agreed by 122 countries in July 2017. “This would demonstrate to the rest of the world that the UK is taking multilateral disarmament seriously – for the first time in more than two decades,” he said.
Asked why he changed his mind about nuclear weapons, Forsyth said, “Since commanding a nuclear missile capable submarine the 1970s I have thought hard and learnt much about Britain’s role today as a nuclear-armed nation.”
“What I have found out has convinced me that we now ought to rethink whether we need a nuclear deterrent. We should make clear we will not fire first, take Trident submarines off continuous patrol and be prepared to trade in our nuclear weapons as our contribution to multilateral disarmament.”
Last week more than 40 campaigners under the banner of Trident Ploughshares chained themselves to the railings outside the Houses of Parliament in London. They demanded that the UK Government sign the nuclear ban treaty to to get rid of ‘these horrific weapons’ and ‘de-nuclearise the world.’