There was a delicious moment on Newsnight recently. The entire programme was devoted to Trident. The usual suspects were on parade. Defence secretary Michael Fallon talking up the Russian threat, Admiral Lord West saying how “shocked” the Americans would be if we were to phase out Trident. Then up popped Nancy Soderberg, the former US ambassador to the United Nations.
Trident, she said gently, was only of “symbolic” value, and its disappearance would make no difference to the balance of power. Wouldn’t abolition make us vulnerable to threats from Russia, she was asked. “No,” she replied with a kindly smile, the UK was under the Nato nuclear umbrella and always will be. For good measure she added that it was difficult to persuade countries such as Iran that they didn’t need nuclear weapons when countries such as Britain and France insisted on retaining them.
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