'Bombs Away'? Britain and Nuclear Weapons under New Labour

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Chalmers, Malcolm (1999) 'Bombs Away'? Britain and Nuclear Weapons under New Labour , Security Dialogue 30(1): 61–74.

The new Labour government in the UK conducted a thorough re-examination of Britain'. nuclear posture and announced the results in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR), released in July 1998. The outcome of this review has both domestic and international significance. Domestically, the SDR has gone a considerable way to healing the rifts on nuclear policy that have bedevilled the Labour Party, and indeed the country, since the 1950s, and has consolidated a new consensus between the main UK political parties on nuclear policy. Internationally, the importance of the smaller nuclear powers, relative to that of the two old superpowers, may be increasing as a result of the move away from Cold War bipolarity. Although the UK already has the smallest nuclear force of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states, the SDR announced further cuts in size and readiness. As part of its commitment to increased international control of fissile material, Britain has become the first nuclear-weapon state to declare the total size of its own stock of unsafeguarded defence fissile material. Perhaps of greatest long-term significance, the government has stated its strong support for the eventual goal of global elimination of nuclear weapons.