The government of Boris Johnson will end the established policy of reducing the nuclear military arsenal and will increase by 40% the number of warheads that can be stored in the United Kingdom. The controversial measure is part of the postBrexit vision reflected in ‘Global Britain in a competitive age’. The 114-page report includes the conclusions of a joint review on Security, Defense and Foreign Policy that was published this Tuesday after a delay of several quarters due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Few nations are better placed to navigate the challenges we face, but we must be willing to alter our approach and adapt to the new world that is emerging around us,” the prime minister writes in the foreword. A fundamental change will occur in the nuclear silos, which were being reduced from 225 to 180 heads in the next few years. This target, which was set in 2010, will now go to “no more than 260 warheads”, while the timetable for the renewal of the atomic submarine fleet for the beginning of the following decade is reaffirmed.
“The government announces the bankruptcy of the objective of reducing the nuclear arsenal, but does not explain why, when or what its strategic purpose is,” protested Labor leader Keir Starmer. Other deputies and directors of organizations against the proliferation of nuclear weapons condemned the new conservative position. The report refers to the threat of “some States” that “invest in new nuclear technologies and develop new systems of atomic ‘warfare’ that they integrate into their nuclear strategies and doctrines.”
- Reference to Russia.
It aims to prevent the threat of “some States” that “invest in atomic technologies”
The review of the geopolitical conjuncture points to Russia as the “most direct threat” and mentions Iran and North Korea among the security risks. It recognizes China as a “systemic competitor” with whom Johnson wants to maintain a “positive relationship in trade and investment”, in addition to cooperating on climate change and other global challenges. The conservative president resisted a barrage of reproaches from his own ranks, demanding a tougher policy towards Beijing as long as the apparent violations of democratic principles and human rights persist in Hong Kong and among ethnic and religious minorities. “We must achieve a balance and establish a clear relationship with China,” he defended.
Johnson was more irritated by the persistent complaints of the reduction of development assistance to below 0.7% of Gross National Product. The United Kingdom reached this international goal in 2013 and two years later adopted it legislatively, but it is another commitment that the prime minister has resigned. “I think we run the risk of belittling the country,” he snapped after reiterating that London is among the largest donors to developing countries.
Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’ will contribute to European security with its presence in NATO and in bilateral relations with France, Germany or Ireland. But it will turn towards the ‘Indo-Pacific’, which it identifies as the engine and stage of economic growth. India will be in April the first international destination of the ‘premier’ since the disconnection with the community bloc.
The inter-ministerial review identifies terrorism among the great threats that will persist in the decade analyzed. He affirms that there will be a “more diverse range of political causes, new sources of radicalization and changing tactics”, whether from Islamist, anarchist or radical groups of the extreme left and the extreme right. He warns that there is a risk of some elements trying to exploit the “political instability” in Northern Ireland. And it warns about the possibility that “some terrorist group will successfully launch an attack with chemical, nuclear, biological or radiological weapons by 2030.”
London guarantees the military protection of the Rock of Gibraltar
Boris Johnson has guaranteed the protection of the Rock of Gibraltar in the post Brexit. During the presentation of his vision of ‘Global Britain’ in the House of Commons, he assured that “the Armed Forces will continue to prevent and challenge incursions into British territorial waters of Gibraltar, they will continue to be present in the Falklands …”, he said regarding the two former colonies. The report pledges the “support” of the metropolis to the overseas territories and islands dependent on the Crown.
It also ensures “investment in strategic nodes” that provide logistical support to the British Armies. Infrastructures and facilities in Gibraltar, Cyprus and Germany are mentioned in particular, as well as Oman, Singapore and Kenya. The conservative government thus intends to consolidate the “overseas bases” and make clear its will to maintain control of the Rock.
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