Titel: Nuclear Papers
Autor/en: David Owen
LIVERPOOL UNIV PR
1. Februar 2010 - gebunden - 296 Seiten
Published in advance of the 2010 Inter-governmental Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, "Nuclear Papers" makes available for the first time newly declassified government correspondence from David Owen's tenure as Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, in which capacity he worked closely with high-ranking U.S. officials. Offering fascinating insight into the culture of secrecy in the upper echelons of government and a forceful polemic on nuclear weapons policy, David Owen argues convincingly that progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons can be made by skillfully tying the events of thirty years ago to the present.
Dramatis Personae Terminology and Acronyms Editorial Note List of Documents Introduction: The Need for an Open and Informed Debate on Britain's Nuclear Deterrent 1. The Nuclear Deterrent 2. Nuclear Weapons Policy 3. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty 4. Enhanced Radiation Weapons 5. The Future
Lord David Owen was Foreign Secretary from 1977-79. He was one of the founders of the SDP and has held a number of senior international appointments. The most recent of his many books are In Sickness and in Power (Methuen, 2008) and The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair and the Intoxication of Power (Politicos, 2007)
As UK foreign secretary from 1977 to 1979, Owen was deeply involved in the last major strategic study of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent in 1978. In this volume he presents newly declassified government papers from that period and calls for nuclear abolition before the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Survival 201009 In this book David Owen, formerly British Foreign Secretary and one time Minister for the Navy, has put together a collection of official government papers with his own correspondence etc, concerning British nuclear weapons policy. Most of this is pretty esoteric, and will only interest those studying the minutiae of government thinking on the subject. For the general reader the most interesting material is to be found in the author's more recent reflections, which are to be found in the introduction, in Chapter 1 (on the nuclear deterrent) and in Appendix E, on 'the future'. Lord Owen was one of the four British political 'heavyweights' (along with Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind and George Robertson) who published an article in The Times on 30 June 2008 advocating the 'ditching' of the British bomb in order to promote eventual global nuclear disarmament. In this they were following a similar move by Henry Kissinger and others in the United States. So it is clear that Lord Owen is in favour of getting rid of nuclear deterrence altogether. Furthermore, he argues (pp. 17-19) that it is extremely important to make some unambiguous moves in this direction before the beginning of the forthcoming review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty early in 2010, otherwise there is a danger that the Treaty will crumble and consequently some states will decide to develop their own nuclear weapons capability. This would be a disaster. But Lord Owen has no objections to the strategy of nuclear deterrence as such. His concern is largely with practicalities, including costs. His preference, which shows through in a number of places in the book, is for Britain to rely for its deterrent on nuclear-armed cruise missiles. These are nowadays extremely accurate, and can pretty well be guaranteed to hit individual buildings, not to mention other very small targets. Furthermore, they can be mounted on the submarines which the navy already has, or will soon acquire. They do not need the huge, specially dedicated, submarines which any replacement for Trident will require (and which will form the biggest part of the cost). He is confident that the issue of cancelling the proposed Trident replacement will have to be addressed in any case, whichever government is elected in 2010. But he also thinks that for the next 10 years or so, while there is no chance of global nuclear disarmament (as distinct from a steady reduction of warhead numbers in the two biggest arsenals), the United Kingdom should persist with its own deterrent, but in the cheaper cruise-missile form. Unfortunately Lord Owen shows no sign of recognizing the enormity of the fact that any nuclear deterrence strategy entails the deterrer being willing intentionally to kill huge numbers of innocent people. True, he recognizes that even with very accurate cruise missiles, the actual use of the deterrent would inevitably kill many innocents. But perhaps to encourage widespread self-deception, he discusses this (like many other 'experts' do) in terms of 'counter-value' as distinct from 'counter-force' targeting (p. 52). Such euphemisms for mass-murder are perhaps necessary if the deterrer is to remain sane amidst the horrors. But not all the 'experts' have talked in this way. One exception was the late Sir Michael Quinlan, whom Lord Owen dubs 'the high priest of nuclear theory' (p. 295). Quinlan tried to show that the innocent killings the deterrer has to be willing to undertake are not intended. They would only be the side effects of what has to be done if deterrence fails. While this argument is fallacious, at least it shows that some of the 'experts' see that there are profound ethical difficulties with any deterrence strategy - something that Lord Owen does not discuss at any length in this book. Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 26:3, 235 - 246 David Owen's Nuclear Papers provides some formerly top secret documentary gems and shrewd insights into the agonizing decisions that Britain's Labour government faced in the latter half of the 1970s as it struggled to maintain an independent strategic nuclear deterrent. But first a little background information. In the late 1960s, the British Government was becoming increasingly concerned about the U.S. commitment to Europe, as more U.S. troops were withdrawn to fight in Vietnam and doubts grew about the U.S.government's willingness to extend its "nuclear umbrella" to protect its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). British concerns were exacerbated by the development of the Soviet antiballistic missile (ABM) system that threatened to reduce Britain's ability to destroy Moscow, long the central requirement for the British nuclear deterrent. Although the United States had more than enough missiles to swamp Soviet ABM defenses, the British did not; they needed to enhance their Polaris submarine-launched warheads so that they could reach their targets. In 1973 the United States canceled the Super-Antelope project that was intended to do just that. When the Conservative government of Edward Heath decided to go it alone, Defence Secretary Lord Carrington said that the project should have a new codename that was British or at least Imperial. Enquires with the London Zoo revealed that the only big antelope meeting that requirement was South African-and was called Chevaline. Lord Carrington was not put off by a name that was sometimes used by French establishments selling horsemeat. Harold Wilson, who headed the minority Labour Government that came to power in 1974, decided to press ahead with the Chevaline project, with the support of a small group of ministers and senior officials. The intense secrecy surrounding the project stemmed not simply from fear that Moscow might learn about the doubts surrounding the viability of the British nuclear deterrent, but also because of strong opposition within the Labour Party to any further enhancement of British nuclear forces. A leak could have brought the government down. The need for secrecy was all the greater after 1975 when the chief of the Defence Staff informed the defence secretary that the Moscow ABM was more effective than had earlier been thought. This meant that until Chevaline came into service seven years later, Britain "could have no assurance" of destroying Moscow (p. 6). This judgement highlighted the question of how much damage the United Kingdom needed to inflict for its deterrent to be credible. Some argued that Britain should sidestep Moscow and concentrate on obliterating other major Soviet cities. After becoming foreign secretary in 1977 Owen joined the "Chevaline Group" and the debate about deterrence. At a meeting with senior Foreign Office officials on 17 October 1977 he said the central question was not whether Britain could be 100 percent certain that in all circumstances its missiles could hit Moscow, but whether the Soviet leaders could be 100 percent confident that the missiles would not strike Moscow. Less than a 100 percent probability might still be adequate for deterrence purposes. He also believed that the Soviet leadership would be deterred if Britain had the capability to destroy other major cities. For those officials responsible for nuclear policy, the driving formula on percentages was that there had to be only a 5 percent risk that Britain would use strategic nuclear weapons for the Soviet Union to be deterred-provided there was a 100 percent certainty that, if used, the weapons would inflict "unacceptable" damage. Owen's assessment of what would deter the Soviet Union led him to argue that Britain should consider switching from a "continuous at sea deterrent" based on submarine- launched ballistic missiles to one using cruise missiles that would also be armed with nuclear warheads. This idea gained little support among officials dealing with nuclear strategy. They argued that cruise missiles could not guarantee success; nor did a non-Moscow criterion that covered only a small number of cities. The other members of the inner circle agreed with this view and pressed ahead with Chevaline despite the enormous financial cost. Doubts over the ability of Polaris to penetrate Moscow's ABM defenses were kept from Denis Healey, the chancellor of the exchequer, for fear that he would cancel the project; meanwhile, the escalating costs of the program were secretly hidden away in the Ministry of Defence budget. At times, Owen says, the deviousness of officials was reminiscent of the Yes, Minister television sitcoms. The good news was that Chevaline proved to be a technological triumph. The British were very confident that their new warheads could destroy Moscow; and U.S. officials were impressed. We now know that Soviet leaders had grave doubts about the likely effectiveness of the Moscow ABM and were horrified by the prospect of nuclear war. If Britain and the United States had had reliable intelligence on these two points it might have been possible to make more headway in arms control negotiations, but there were many other issues that fueled the strategic rivalry during the Cold War. Another fascinating story in Nuclear Papers is Owen's account of his dogged efforts to secure the declassification of the above-mentioned papers to facilitate a proper debate on "the nature of a minimum deterrent for the twenty-first century" (p. 3) before negotiations began on the renewal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2010. Many papers were released, though some were heavily redacted by the Ministry of Defence on security grounds. Owen's personal contribution to the debate is a lengthy chapter that sets out the case for Britain to replace its Trident D-II missiles with submarine-launched cruise missiles. Most experts in the field do not share his confidence in the ability of the current generation of cruise missiles to provide a convincing deterrent, either militarily or politically. Although, as Owen notes, work is being done in the United States to develop a long-range, hypersonic cruise missile, we are unlikely to know for another 10- 15 years whether that will be a credible deterrent-and, if so, at what cost. Nuclear Papers is an appropriate title for this book, which skips across several different nuclear issues. Fortunately, what the book lacks in coherence is more than compensated for by Owen's account of the Chevaline debates and what can be learned from them. -- Gordon S. Barrass Journal of Cold War Studies 2012