Committee to scrutinise the UK nuclear deterrent and assess threat of unconventional weapons
The House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee will continue taking oral evidence for its new inquiry, “Defence concepts and capabilities: from aspiration to reality”. They will hear from two experts in the use of nuclear and unconventional weapons.
The Committee will ask questions exploring the UK nuclear deterrent and its strengths and limitations, in particular in light of the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper, both published in 2021. Questions will focus on the cost and efficacy of a seaborne arsenal, especially in relation to existing allies and potential adversaries. Questions will also probe on wider CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) threats in the global context today.
- The Integrated Review has reversed the previous downward trajectory of the UK’s nuclear-warhead stockpile ceiling. What do you believe was the rationale behind this, and do you find it compelling?
- Does the Government’s policy of strategic ambiguity over its nuclear posture improve the efficacy of the deterrent, especially in the face of the challenge posed by Russia and China? Or conversely, may it lead to misperceptions and misunderstandings?
- What is your assessment of the UK’s deterrent posture more broadly? Is our capability and resolve adequate to credibly deter across the full spectrum of potential hostility?
- What is the impact of the increase in the warhead stockpile and reliance on strategic ambiguity on the UK’s nuclear diplomacy, especially for the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? Will our allies welcome or fear such a move?
- What is your assessment of the UK’s ability to maintain its nuclear arsenal in terms of cost? How much should we rely on US and French burden-sharing versus paying for our own capability?
- How severe do you assess the CBRN threat to be, how prepared is the UK to respond to a CBRN event, and are the appropriate responses military or non-military?