Counting the cost of nuclear deterrent

By Robert Forsyth

As a former Royal Navy submarine commander, I read with interest Hugh White’s suggestion that Australia may, in the decades to come, need to confront the issue of whether it should have its own nuclear weapons. In his new book, How to defend Australia, White argues that Australia can no longer rely in the long term on the US’s ‘nuclear umbrella’.

I’ve spent some time post-service researching the justification for the UK’s decision to acquire, and sustain, a submarine-launched nuclear-armed ballistic-missile system, and the negative effect that decision has had on our armed services and the navy in particular. The UK experience provides some lessons for any state that’s thinking of acquiring a ‘nuclear deterrent’ for the first time.

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