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    we have all these great weapons and can't use them .

    I know war sucks, i'd never want to live in a warzone and don't wish that on anyone (particularly an irradiated one) but I'd love to see weapons systems like trident deployed.
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    (Original post by Supersaps)
    Also, a question to the OP - what's your source for all this very informative, somewhat technical information?
    Funnily enough, a lot of my information actually comes from CND-type sources. Most CND members don't have a clue, but they often do have some well-informed members who have a very good technical understanding.

    This PDF here from a CND/Greenpeace type source goes into extremely high level of detail about the Trident system. Not just the usual sort of information you can find online, but even down to specific information about the firing authority chain, the software blocks in the fire control system.

    http://www.swordofdamocles.org/pdf/future.pdf

    Iirc that document I cited is most detailed about the nuclear planning staff and goes into interesting detail about the software and computer systems they use to generate target sets for the Trident system. It's just one example. I've read a lot about it, bought books, I have an older friend who worked at Aldermaston in the late 80s and early 90s (when the UK carried out its last nuclear test)
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    Ahaha, I'm currently at my parent's house for Eastertide and "childsafe" settings have blocked that PDF!


    Let's see if I can download it on my phone...
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    (Original post by Zargabaath)
    Damn, that's impressive. I must admit, I do find nukes in particular quite fascinating. Not even from an edgy "I love destruction" point of view, the engineering and physics involved is just impressive to me.
    I totally agree. There is something fascinating about the mix of chemistry and physics, high-level engineering, game theory and strategic psychology, military organisation, etc. I don't know many other subjects that marry up so many disparate subjects in a single field.

    I also find the psychology and anthropology of nuclear scientists working at facilities like Aldermaston and Los Alamos very interesting. Particularly in the Cold War when they were almost like secret cities. Los Alamos put out a three-part documentary on YouTube a couple of years about nuclear design (lots of talking head interviews with the scientists who were there in the 60s/70s). One of them involved in the early tests talked about how they were all really kind-of geeky boys who were out in the Pacific in their short-shorts messing around with megaton yields.

    Anyway, I don't have to explain it to you, I can see you get it
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    (Original post by Supersaps)
    Ahaha, I'm currently at my parent's house for Eastertide and "childsafe" settings have blocked that PDF!

    Let's see if I can download it on my phone...
    I'll quote here a small section of the document that provides a sense of the sort of technical information it has

    Nuclear Operations and Targeting Centre

    Planning for nuclear weapons is within the remit of the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy)(ACDS (Pol)).266 The Director Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Policy (DCBRNPol), a Commodore, has specific responsibility. The UK Liaison Officer at Omaha and his deputyare also responsible to ACDS (Pol). A list of naval positions refers to the Officer in Charge of theNuclear Operations and Targeting Centre (NOTC), a Commander.267 There is also an OperationsOfficer at NOTC, a Lieutenant.268 The location of the NOTC is “MoD, London”.

    NOTC houses a computer system that produces British nuclear target plans. Until the late 1990sthere will have been a system to prepare nuclear attacks from aircraft using WE-177 bombs andanother for Polaris. Since the early 1990s there has also been a special system for Trident.

    Official statements in 1994 and 2004 refer to the software and hardware of “the UK shore-basedtarget planning system” for Trident, although they do not mention NOTC by name.269 In 1994 theMoD said the decision that Trident should take on a sub-strategic role would require “minorenhancements” to the hardware and software of this system. In June 2004, in response to aParliamentary question, the Armed Forces Minister said that the system had not changedsignificantly since 1993, but that modifications had been made “to update the hardware andoperating system in accordance with good industry practice”.270

    In 1993 it was said that the hardware and software changes required for Sub-Strategic Tridentwould initially cost £1 million, followed by annual support costs of around £150,000 per year for 10years
    As I said, the level of detail you find in some anti-nuclear org docs is fascinating
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    (Original post by BeastOfSyracuse)
    Very interesting comment. My own view is that we could far more profitably spend money on reducing the W76 yield (maybe even down to 0.05 kilotons). Realistically, we know how to do that.
    Yes, but the political ramifications are numerous.

    Isn't any use - no matter what size of yield - of a nuclear weapon regarded as the use of a weapon of mass destruction and therefore classified as a war crime? How could you get around that without opening Pandora's box?

    From a military point of view it makes reasonable sense (though it should be noted there are many other area denial weapons out there which could do the same job, the US' MOAB comes to mind).
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    (Original post by BeastOfSyracuse)
    X
    The first obvious counterargument is that this isn't what Trident exists for. Trident is a nuclear deterrent. It exists to attempt to prevent a nuclear attack on the United Kingdom through the threat of mutually assured destruction, helped by the fact that it would be incredibly difficult to eliminate the entire UK nuclear arsenal in a single first strike if you have nuclear weapons on submarines. Even if, for a moment, we assume that the scenario you've thought of is worth taking seriously, there are other more cost-effective ways of dealing with the situation. You do not need submarines, nor do you need nuclear warheads. All you need are long-range missiles with conventional explosive warheads.

    Secondly, "It's impossible to say what kind of threats to the UK will emerge in the next 40 years" is not a particularly great argument because you could theoretically use that to justify anything. You've raised the idea of biological warfare which I actually think is a very good point and something people need to take a lot more seriously, but the fact of the matter is that you've got to do cost-benefit analysis to make sure your preparations are proportionate to the risk. And maintaining a nuclear deterrent for risks that could be adequately dealt with using conventional missiles doesn't make any sense.

    My final, and main argument, is that the financial cost isn't even the most important reason why we need to get rid of nuclear weapons. The main reason is that nuclear weapons are a very real potential catastrophic risk for human civilization. Mutually assured destruction by itself actually works very well. The problem is that the risk doesn't come from the danger of an intentional all-out strike from Russia or China, the danger is from an error - either intentional or by accident - leading to nuclear escalation. This has already almost happened on several occasions and a lot of experts in the field of catastrophic risk analysis think that nuclear war triggered by an error or a third party/non-state actor is one of the greatest threats to humanity with the potential to destabilise civilization. In fact, possessing nuclear weapons makes us significantly more vulnerable to terrorism because it creates the potential for terrorists to trigger a nuclear strike between nuclear nations (the risk of terrorists themselves developing a nuclear weapon is incredibly low). This risk is substantially greater than any enhanced counter-terrorism potential we'd get from possessing nuclear weapons.

    So no, I don't think this supports the existence of Trident in the slightest.
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    (Original post by Plagioclase)
    The first obvious counterargument is that this isn't what Trident exists for. Trident is a nuclear deterrent.
    If Trident was never envisioned to have any kind of practical use the government wouldn't have bothered to introduce the sub-strategic variant. Trident's primary function is as a nuclear deterrent but the US, UK and France have never committed to a no-first use policy and there is no question that each would use the system if it involved a question of national survival.

    Trident D5 with the Mk4a re-entry body is not a city-buster like Polaris, it was specifically designed to be an accurate, warfighting nuclear system not a second-strike capability to be used after we ride out a Russian first-strike. Trident is equipped to conduct accurate pre-emptive strikes.

    There are certainly scenarios where the UK may need to use the accuracy, swiftness and striking power of Trident to hit an adversary before they hit us. We cannot predict what kind of government will exist in Iran, for example, thirty years from now and what their nuclear status would be. If we detected preparations for an attack on us Trident is equipped to conduct a pre-emptive first strike and has the capability to do so against hardened targets like missile silos and command bunkers. That's not a capability I would wish us to give up, and the sorts of upgrades that have been applied to the Mk4a AF&F (Arming, Fuzing & Firing) system would indicate the UK and US governments see it the same way.

    There has been no war between great powers since 1945; any serious observer of history would struggle to argue that nuclear weapons haven't played the major role in that. You propose to get rid of nuclear weapons, thus lowering the threshold for war between great powers. That's not compassionate, it's idiotic

    You do not need submarines, nor do you need nuclear warheads. All you need are long-range missiles with conventional explosive warheads.
    This is where an understanding of the technical characteristics of delivery systems helps. A "long-range missile" (by which you presumably mean a cruise missile, because an ICBM/SLBM with a conventional warhead is a laughable prospect) would take up to 10 hours to reach a target in a remote area of Central Africa or the Middle East. That's assuming we already had an SSN on station to launch a TLAM-type missile. Thus your proposal fails to provide a prompt strike capability that could replace sub-strategic yield uses of Trident.

    Secondly, "It's impossible to say what kind of threats to the UK will emerge in the next 40 years" is not a particularly great argument because you could theoretically use that to justify anything.
    That we can't predict what threats will emerge in the next 40 years and that we are in a period of transition certainly can't be seriously used to argue against retaining a stabilising major capability like Trident, given that once we give it up we won't be getting it back again

    The main reason is that nuclear weapons are a very real potential catastrophic risk for human civilization
    How many people have died from nuclear weapons in the 20th century? About 150,000. How many died in World War 2? About 60 million. I'd rather keep nuclear weapons given their obvious role in deterring major conventional wars between great powers. Statistically speaking, wars between great powers are much more dangerous to human life and health than the nuclear weapons that have contributed to preventing said wars.
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    (Original post by Plagioclase)

    My final, and main argument, is that the financial cost isn't even the most important reason why we need to get rid of nuclear weapons. The main reason is that nuclear weapons are a very real potential catastrophic risk for human civilization. Mutually assured destruction by itself actually works very well. The problem is that the risk doesn't come from the danger of an intentional all-out strike from Russia or China, the danger is from an error - either intentional or by accident - leading to nuclear escalation. This has already almost happened on several occasions and a lot of experts in the field of catastrophic risk analysis think that nuclear war triggered by an error or a third party/non-state actor is one of the greatest threats to humanity with the potential to destabilise civilization. In fact, possessing nuclear weapons makes us significantly more vulnerable to terrorism because it creates the potential for terrorists to trigger a nuclear strike between nuclear nations (the risk of terrorists themselves developing a nuclear weapon is incredibly low). This risk is substantially greater than any enhanced counter-terrorism potential we'd get from possessing nuclear weapons.

    So no, I don't think this supports the existence of Trident in the slightest.
    The problem with your argument is that it does not follow we would be safer if there was some sort of mass global disarmament. In fact I think such a situation would be more likely to create a nuclear conflict for two reasons. Firstly you have the threat of a conventional war breaking out between major powers. The possibility of a US or Russian miscalculation in Eastern Europe or the Middle East is going to be much higher, either nation would be emboldened by the disappearance of a nuclear threat. You also have the South China Sea and the possibility of conflict between China and the host of powers it is currently antagonizing, that situation would worsen in the event a substantial portion of the US security umbrella disappeared. You remove nuclear weapons from the equation and I have no doubt the possibility of a conventional war would spike. The only difference would be the destruction of the planet moves into taking weeks, not minutes.

    Next you have the other major problem with removing nuclear weapons, the science is relatively simple, what is to stop another nation simply rebuilding a nuclear weapons program? Barring some sort of global, one nation planet, or massive spirit of cooperation to wipe out nuclear weapons and destroy any attempt to rebuild them someone would hide a weapon or build their own, the advantage is simply too great. In that situation it becomes a question of how soon before someone gets nuked?

    Global disarmament (not that you've proposed it but I assume this is where you line of thinking is going) seems to flag up as many problems as the status quo
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    (Original post by BeastOfSyracuse)
    If Trident was never envisioned to have any kind of practical use the government wouldn't have bothered to introduce the sub-strategic variant. Trident's primary function is as a nuclear deterrent but the US, UK and France have never committed to a no-first use policy and there is no question that each would use the system if it involved a question of national survival.

    Trident D5 with the Mk4a re-entry body is not a city-buster like Polaris, it was specifically designed to be an accurate, warfighting nuclear system not a second-strike capability to be used after we ride out a Russian first-strike. Trident is equipped to conduct accurate pre-emptive strikes.

    There are certainly scenarios where the UK may need to use the accuracy, swiftness and striking power of Trident to hit an adversary before they hit us. We cannot predict what kind of government will exist in Iran, for example, thirty years from now and what their nuclear status would be. If we detected preparations for an attack on us Trident is equipped to conduct a pre-emptive first strike and has the capability to do so against hardened targets like missile silos and command bunkers. That's not a capability I would wish us to give up, and the sorts of upgrades that have been applied to the Mk4a AF&F (Arming, Fuzing & Firing) system would indicate the UK and US governments see it the same way.

    There has been no war between great powers since 1945; any serious observer of history would struggle to argue that nuclear weapons haven't played the major role in that. You propose to get rid of nuclear weapons, thus lowering the threshold for war between great powers. That's not compassionate, it's idiotic

    This is where an understanding of the technical characteristics of delivery systems helps. A "long-range missile" (by which you presumably mean a cruise missile, because an ICBM/SLBM with a conventional warhead is a laughable prospect) would take up to 10 hours to reach a target in a remote area of Central Africa or the Middle East. That's assuming we already had an SSN on station to launch a TLAM-type missile. Thus your proposal fails to provide a prompt strike capability that could replace sub-strategic yield uses of Trident.

    That we can't predict what threats will emerge in the next 40 years and that we are in a period of transition certainly can't be seriously used to argue against retaining a stabilising major capability like Trident, given that once we give it up we won't be getting it back again

    How many people have died from nuclear weapons in the 20th century? About 150,000. How many died in World War 2? About 60 million. I'd rather keep nuclear weapons given their obvious role in deterring major conventional wars between great powers
    I'm not going to claim to be an expert on the technical specifics of Trident but I have absolutely no idea why being launched from a submarine makes a missile any faster than if it were launched on land. There are two reasons why we have missiles on submarines. Firstly, it gives you flexibility with your launch location, but submarines are not particularly fast so this wouldn't help you if you're in a time-critical situation. Secondly, it makes it impossible to destroy a country's nuclear arsenal in a first strike. Neither of these reasons are at all relevant to the situation you're talking about.

    Your response to my main argument makes absolutely zero sense. As I think I made completely clear, I am not opposed to nuclear weapons because of what they have done, I am opposed to nuclear weapons because of what they're capable of doing. This isn't particularly difficult to understand. The consequence of an all-our nuclear war would be cataclysmic. I've been to several talks about this at the Future of Humanity institute and everybody working is this area believes that they potential they have to destroy civilization is more than enough reason to get rid of them.

    Again, I will reiterate this point - the threat of nuclear war is not some abstract scare-story I've made up. We've nearly had a major nuclear war between the US and the USSR/Russia on several occasions. This is one of the greatest catastrophic risks humans face - indeed, that is the conclusion reached in Bostrom and Circovic's Global Catastrophic Risk.
    (Original post by Aj12)
    The problem with your argument is that it does not follow we would be safer if there was some sort of mass global disarmament. In fact I think such a situation would be more likely to create a nuclear conflict for two reasons. Firstly you have the threat of a conventional war breaking out between major powers. The possibility of a US or Russian miscalculation in Eastern Europe or the Middle East is going to be much higher, either nation would be emboldened by the disappearance of a nuclear threat. You also have the South China Sea and the possibility of conflict between China and the host of powers it is currently antagonizing, that situation would worsen in the event a substantial portion of the US security umbrella disappeared. You remove nuclear weapons from the equation and I have no doubt the possibility of a conventional war would spike. The only difference would be the destruction of the planet moves into taking weeks, not minutes.Next you have the other major problem with removing nuclear weapons, the science is relatively simple, what is to stop another nation simply rebuilding a nuclear weapons program? Barring some sort of global, one nation planet, or massive spirit of cooperation to wipe out nuclear weapons and destroy any attempt to rebuild them someone would hide a weapon or build their own, the advantage is simply too great. In that situation it becomes a question of how soon before someone gets nuked?Global disarmament (not that you've proposed it but I assume this is where you line of thinking is going) seems to flag up as many problems as the status quo
    First of all, as obviously important as it is to prevent any kind of global conflict, a conflict with nuclear weapons (specifically a conflict involving all-out nuclear strikes, rather than strategic use) is going to be incomparably more damaging than a conflict without nuclear weapons. As long as there is a chance for a global nuclear war, given enough time, it is going to happen. This statement is meaningless if the annual chance is low enough to be negligible but it isn't. A lot of people studying this believe it's perfectly possible to happen within a century and let's remember, the consequence of this is the collapse of modern civilization. The direct impacts of an all-out nuclear strike may not be global but the ensuing environmental impacts will be.

    I went to a seminar series on this topic at Oxford's Future of Humanity institute and their conclusion, essentially, was that a world where peace is maintained through mutually assured destruction is unsustainable and the only way a technologically advanced world can survive is through international cooperation. The evolution of a sentient species is essentially a competition between cooperation and technological development. If technological development is allowed to continue without sufficiently strong international cooperation, the conclusion is destruction.

    So, assuming you want a long-term future for the human race, the only sustainable option is to work on international relations and international cooperation to a point where peace does not have to be maintained through mutually assured destruction. A lot of people have proposed a world government as a solution to this. I know some people find this an absolutely unbearable concept but unfortunately, it's a conclusion you can't escape assuming you think further technological development is a good thing.
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    (Original post by 999tigger)
    the enemy has to believe it will be used. there are some in the military who dont believe it would be. I think and hope it would be. In any event the amount of nuclear explosions is most likely to cause a nuclear winter as well as mass radiation which will kill everyone except the cockroaches.
    The radiation argument you make is severely overstated, nuclear weapons tend to have very little lasting radiation, further, nuclear winners tend to be overstated, during the first Gulf War a nuclear winter was predicted from the potential oil fires, when those fires actually started and burned for many months the effect was not there

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    (Original post by Drewski)
    Yes, but the political ramifications are numerous.

    Isn't any use - no matter what size of yield - of a nuclear weapon regarded as the use of a weapon of mass destruction and therefore classified as a war crime? How could you get around that without opening Pandora's box?

    From a military point of view it makes reasonable sense (though it should be noted there are many other area denial weapons out there which could do the same job, the US' MOAB comes to mind).
    The funny thing with nuclear weapons is that even according to the UN their use is not illegal, however nor is it legal, as any laws referred to are for conventional weapons, further, they state that the use of nuclear weapons is likely acceptable if it prevents the destruction of the state using them, or at least in the event that not using them would certainly lead to the destruction of the state.

    There was an ICJ thing about the use of nuclear weapons in the 90s

    Also MOAB does barely anything compared to even a very low yield nuclear area denial.

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    (Original post by Jammy Duel)
    The funny thing with nuclear weapons is that even according to the UN their use is not illegal, however nor is it legal, as any laws referred to are for conventional weapons, further, they state that the use of nuclear weapons is likely acceptable if it prevents the destruction of the state using them, or at least in the event that not using them would certainly lead to the destruction of the state.
    Even on the WMD level there's nothing? I find that odd.
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    (Original post by Drewski)
    Even on the WMD level there's nothing? I find that odd.
    Like white phosphorus it would depend on its use, using it on a city is going to be illegal regardless, except in the survival of a state scenario. Using tactical or low yield strategic nuclear weapons in the battlefield is a grey area. I'll try to find the page about it shortly.

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    (Original post by BeastOfSyracuse)
    Could Trident ever be used?
    It's made in Britain, so probably not. :lol:
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    (Original post by Dropout_06)
    It's made in Britain, so probably not. :lol:
    Actually it's made in America.


    (Original post by Drewski)
    Even on the WMD level there's nothing? I find that odd.
    http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index....4&case=95&p3=5

    Sorry, it's mainly regarding the threat of use rather than actual use.
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    A deterrent is not a deterrent if it cannot or will not be used. If we faced sufficient aggression, it absolutely would be used and would send a clear message to the world that nuclear war is undesirable. Though I think Trident is excessively expensive, unnecessarily so.
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    (Original post by Sequin Rugby)
    A deterrent is not a deterrent if it cannot or will not be used. If we faced sufficient aggression, it absolutely would be used and would send a clear message to the world that nuclear war is undesirable. Though I think Trident is excessively expensive, unnecessarily so.
    I don't think we would even use it. I think that if the UK was wiped of the map, but the MP's survived, they still would not use them, as is their weakness as people.
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    (Original post by The_Opinion)
    I don't think we would even use it. I think that if the UK was wiped of the map, but the MP's survived, they still would not use them, as is their weakness as people.
    It wouldn't be up to MP's.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_of_last_resort
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    (Original post by The_Opinion)
    I don't think we would even use it. I think that if the UK was wiped of the map, but the MP's survived, they still would not use them, as is their weakness as people.
    Since when did MPs make all decisions in war?

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