Theresa May’s dangerous plan to link nuclear trade with security
Britain’s secret Brexit nuke http://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2017/apr/06/britains-secret-brexit-nuke-1590353–1.html By Tom Arms 6th April 2017
May’s attempt to link trade and security sets a dangerous precedent for the world. Will she now offer N-protection to Saudi Arabia?
British Prime Minister Theresa May has linked Britain’s nuclear deterrent to Brexit negotiations. And in doing so she has pointed the way for India and other nuclear weapons states to use their irradiated umbrellas to secure their own lucrative trade deals.
Until now it has been accepted that nuclear weapons are the ultimate deterrent, and are to be used only in that capacity. Linking them to trade, as May has done, has added a new and dangerous level to the nuclear playing field.
The link came in the British prime minister’s letter to the European Commission triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the start of Brexit negotiations. In just one letter, she explicitly linked economic concessions with security issues nine times.
Alright, the n-word has yet to be dropped on a public stage, but it is being talked about behind closed Whitehall doors. The whispers have been loud enough for me to hear them and to contact the UK’s Department for Brexit negotiations. I pointedly asked them, “Is the government considering offering a nuclear deterrent—probably incollaboration with the French—to EU countries in return for trade concessions?” The reply was neither a confirmation nor a denial but an email pointing me to the links in May’s Brexit letter and a speech in which the British PM said, “The third … reason I believe we can come to the right agreement is that cooperation between Britain and the EU is needed not just when it comes to trade but when it comes to our security too.”
“Britain and France are Europe’s only two nuclear powers. … Britain’s armed forces are a crucial part of Europe’s collective defence.”
“… After Brexit, Britain wants to be a good friend and neighbour in every way, and that includes defending the safety and security of all of our citizens.”
Quick phone calls to embassies and European ministries of foreign affairs elicited a wall of no comments, until I came to the Poles where a spokesperson said, “Yes that’s right.”
But if the negotiating ploy is successful in Europe, what is to stop the British from offering the same protection to other regions of the world? Does Britain strike a deal with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to protect them from Iran? The British have just reopened a permanent naval base in Bahrain. How about East Africa? The Americans lease Diego Garcia but the British still own it. London has great relations with Singapore, an excellent base for an Asian presence.
And what about other nuclear weapon states? What is to stop India, Pakistan, France, Russia, China, and the US from using their nukes to extract trade concessions. It will cost more but the trade deals, or should I say protection money—should more than cover the costs, with a profit—adding a new and dangerous element to the problem of nuclear non-proliferation.
A stronger nuclear Britain willing to flex its muscles fits in nicely with the Trump view of the world. During his campaign, The Donald shocked analysts by floating the cost-cutting proposal that America supply nukes to Japan and Saudi Arabia. And although the US is making more positive noises about the NATO, the initial talk of obsolescence has left Europeans deeply worried.
Beefing up the British nuclear deterrent and tying it closer to Europe would save America money. However, it would also put several more links in the defensive chain that ties the US to the protection of Europe.
Trump may favour such a change, but it is not in the interests of either side of the Atlantic. Two World Wars have proven that. In both, the US adopted a hands-off role at the start. However, the fact is their interests were so intertwined with the European democracies that Washington was eventually forced to intervene to protect its national interests.
It is the growing American isolationism that makes it possible for May to test thendangerous nuclear waters. The EU is worried about losing its American nuclear umbrella. The UK is worried about losing their European market. Britain has nuclear weapons. The EU has markets. There is a clear fit.
Dr Ian Lesser, vice president at the German Marshall Fund, said it is “not incredible” that Britain is considering using its nuclear deterrent as part of the Brexit negotiations. He added, “But it would certainly be controversial.”
Trump’s foreign policy has prompted widespread calls for greater European defence cooperation, including—at the suggestion of the Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski—a German-funded European nuclear deterrent. This was firmly and immediately rejected by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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