An excellent editorial in the Scientific American (March 2017)—"Take nukes off a short fuse" (PDF)—argues that, at the very least, the world's nuclear weapons should be taken off high alert.
Behind that motivation is the idea that we need nuclear weapons to keep us safe in a hostile world. But that idea is certainly wrong. There is now overwhelming evidence that, because of the risks of accidentally starting a nuclear third world war, and the risks that terrorists might be able to create their own nuclear weapons, we are much less safe with nuclear weapons than we are without them.
The UK government's obsession with nuclear power defies all evidence, unless the motivation is nuclear power as a means of underpinning nuclear weapons.
Here is evidence that that is indeed the motivation:
- Trident, nuclear submarines and the UK's nuclear power imperative (The Ecologist, 2016-01-15). The UK's nuclear power programme is driven by military demands, write Andy Stirling & Phil Johnstone - but not in the way you might think. The most essential need is not for plutonium or tritium, but for a nuclear industrial sector to design, build and maintain the reactors that power nuclear submarines. Without them, the Trident missile system would have no military credibility.
- Bombs ahoy! Why the UK is desperate for nuclear power (The Ecologist, 2014-08-26). ... now it's no longer plutonium we need - we have more than enough of that, with our 100 tonne plutonium stockpile. It is, rather, a supply of tritium that's needed. Produced as a by-product of operating nuclear power plants, it's essential to maintain supplies as it decays away at about 5% per year. ... The UK's military also needs high-enriched uranium as fuel for both Trident and hunter-killer nuclear submarines. The former are the deployment platform for the UK's nuclear missiles.