F8: The UK’s Nuclear Deterrent

Policy Motion as passed by conference

Submitted by: 10 Members.
Mover: Richard Foord MP (Spokesperson for Defence)
Summation: TBC

Conference reaffirms:

  1. The universal liberal values of internationalism, human rights, the pursuit of peace, and the rule of law.
  2. The duty of the United Kingdom to keep its people safe.
  3. Our long-held desire to negotiate towards a world where nuclear weapons are put beyond use.
  4. Our belief that the United Kingdom is safer and more prosperous when working with multilateral institutions, including NATO.
  5. The United Kingdom’s long-standing legal and moral obligations to pursue global disarmament.

Conference notes:

  1. Our 2017 policy on nuclear weapons, policy paper 127 Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, which recommended a change in the UK’s nuclear posture from Continuous At-Sea Deterrent (CASD) to a medium-responsiveness posture with no continuous deployment.
  2. That the global security environment is characterised by new levels of instability, including rising tensions over Iran and the fragmentation of nuclear arms control agreements, and has deteriorated following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
  3. Russia’s veiled threats as to its readiness to use nuclear weapons, on the battlefield or elsewhere.
  4. That the UK’s nuclear weapons are declared for the defence of NATO and so play a key protective role for our allies.

Conference believes that:

  1. Vladimir Putin’s Russia poses a clear threat to our national security and that of our NATO allies.
  2. We have no wish to see the current conflict in Ukraine escalate, yet in these circumstances NATO must retain all the necessary elements of a credible nuclear deterrent.
  3. Abandoning the current posture of continuous at-sea deterrence (CASD) would send the wrong signal to Vladimir Putin - and to our European allies about our willingness to come to their defence, weakening the credibility of the UK’s nuclear deterrent at a delicate time.
  4. Taking a step down the nuclear capability ladder at a moment when it is so unlikely to be reciprocated will sadly do little to further our ambition of global disarmament.
  5. The challenging security environment and rising nuclear risks should embolden the UK to make a renewed push for global disarmament, and while the strategic context is challenging, opportunities which arise in the future must not be squandered.
  6. The UK Government’s approach to global disarmament has been at best counter-productive and at worst in breach of legal and moral obligations.

Conference therefore calls on the UK Government to:

  1. Maintain a minimum, credible nuclear deterrent.
  2. Maintain the current posture of continuous at-sea deterrence.
  3. Examine the option of a future move down from continuous at-sea deterrence to a medium-responsiveness posture as a credible step to demonstrate leadership on nuclear disarmament, if and when the strategic environment is more conducive to progress.
  4. Reduce nuclear risk by establishing a declaratory policy of ‘No First Use’ for the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Conference urges the UK Government to pursue global disarmament, including by:

  1. Reversing plans to increase the cap on the stockpile of nuclear weapons; and associated reductions in transparency commitments;
  2. Publicly recommitting to the UK’s obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty;
  3. Making global disarmament a diplomatic priority for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office;
  4. Looking to engage further with non-Nuclear Weapon States on disarmament initiatives, including the Stockholm Initiative and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (while acknowledging that the UK cannot sign that Treaty).
  5. Halt plans to reduce the size of the regular Army from 82,000 personnel to 72,500 by 2025.
  6. Urgently review the overall scale of all branches of UK armed forces in light of newly established NATO commitments.
  7. Given the unlikelihood of disarmament developments with Russia under the present Russian Government, Conference believes that the UK Government should also explore opportunities to pursue disarmament initiatives with other Nuclear Weapon States, including:
    1. Engaging with other Nuclear Weapon States regarding bilateral adoption of transparency measures.
    2. Continuing engagement with Nuclear Weapon States which are yet to engage with the proposed Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.
    3. Encouraging remaining countries which have not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty, which Russia has already ratified, to do so.

Applicability: Federal.

This website uses cookies

Like most websites, this site uses cookies. Some are required to make it work, while others are used for statistical or marketing purposes. If you choose not to allow cookies some features may not be available, such as content from other websites. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the website to function properly.
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Marketing cookies are used by third parties or publishers to display personalized advertisements. They do this by tracking visitors across websites.