ISBN: 978-3-03-067575-2

Christoph Laucht

Swansea University

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While nuclear disarmament has received considerable attention in International Relations, Paul Beaumont's book explores the hitherto largely neglected question as to 'how it is possible that a state maintains nuclear weapons' (p. 1). Focusing on the Thatcher government acquisition of the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile system in the 1980s and the Blair government decision to initiate its replacement in 2005–09, Beaumont examines the 'discursive maintenance of nuclear weapons in the UK' (p. 4). The book draws inspiration from the Foucauldian concept of 'regimes of truth' and analyses ways in which British governments sought to gain the interpretive primacy over the pro-nuclear deterrent narrative. After a concise introduction, three chapters develop the book's theoretical and methodological frameworks further: chapter 2 offers a deeper justification of the book's topic, demonstrating how it fills lacunae in the existing research on the UK's independent nuclear deterrent. Chapter 3 presents readers with a conceptualization of 'nuclear regimes of truth', before the next chapter locates the 'discursive maintenance' of the British nuclear deterrent within its wider international dimensions. The next two chapters contain discursive analyses of the Thatcher and Blair governments' justifications of the procurement and replacement decisions. Here, the chosen time periods enable Beaumont to reveal how official British 'nuclear regimes of truth' evolved between the Cold War and the early twenty-first century. Finally, a conclusion summarizes the main findings and formulates desiderata for future research. By approaching the British nuclear deterrent via its retention and through discourse analysis, Performing Nuclear Weapons makes an original contribution to the existing research on nuclear weapons states beyond the geographical and disciplinary contexts of the UK and International Relations.