Britain and France have decided to share their missile submarines (SSBN) in order to deter a potential enemy. This idea, first put forward by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, aroused interest in the current British government. The British do not have enough money to upgrade their fleet of SSBNs, and they admit the possibility of alternate combat duty of their own and French submarines. If this project is implemented for the first time in stories two great powers will keep their hands on one nuclear button.
Sarkozy put forward the idea of sharing the strategic nuclear submarine forces of France and Great Britain back in March of this year. But the then Labor government of Gordon Brown immediately rejected this idea.
Now the new cabinet, led by Conservative Party leader David Cameron, is interested in this idea. The reason is simple - the existing missile boats have served their allotted time and must be replaced. The modernization of the existing submarine missile fleet of four SSBNs requires 20 billion pounds, but Finance Minister George Osborne does not have that kind of money. He said that funds should be found in the budget of the Ministry of Defense.
Under these conditions, the military department is forced to look for a cheaper version of modernization, and it seems that it boils down to reducing the number of submarines. As a result, the most important principle of deterrence may be violated - the continuity of the SSBN being on alert. While the British have at least one submarine is, as the Independent writes, “at the bottom”, waiting for the necessary command at any moment. The same is true of the French, who also have four SSBNs. If there are fewer submarines, it is impossible to avoid interruptions in combat duty of the most reliable component of the nuclear triad.
It is precisely because of budgetary considerations that London was forced to turn to the project put forward as early as March of this year. President of France Nicolas Sarkozy. He proposed to unite the strategic nuclear forces of the underwater bases of both countries so as to have at least one SSBN for the two countries at sea.
It was agreed that the Franco-British summit will be held in November, at which Sarkozy’s proposal will be discussed. As is known, the two countries have already reached an agreement on the joint use of their aircraft carriers - on the same principle. However, combining nuclear weapons is a fundamentally new moment. How can two nuclear powers, always emphasizing the independent nature of their means of deterrence, simultaneously keep their hands on the same nuclear button?
Answering this question by NVO, the former chief of staff of the Strategic Missile Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General Viktor Yesin, noted that projects for the joint use of nuclear weapons had appeared in the West before. So, in the 60-years, London advocated the creation of the "Atlantic Nuclear Forces" as part of the funds of the United States, Britain and France. At the same time, the proposal of Paris about the "European Nuclear Forces" of Great Britain and France appeared. Instead of all this, a NATO nuclear planning group was created, which, however, did not abolish the independent use by the nuclear powers of their forces.
According to the expert, the greatest difficulty in the implementation of this project will create a solution to the “double key” problem, and it is difficult to imagine how it will be. According to Yesin, most likely the case will be reduced to agreements on closer coordination of the actions of the submarine forces of both countries. The need for such coordination is obvious. This is evidenced by at least the recent clash of French and British submarines in the North Atlantic. Both submarines suffered, and they are still being repaired.
Independent notes the “explosive nature” of the project from a political point of view. Previously, such initiatives were wary. The question arose: will France, for example, decide to launch a nuclear strike on a country that has started a conflict with Great Britain, and thereby itself to face the danger of a retaliatory strike? However, back in 2008, after negotiations with then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Sarkozy stated that an attack on the vital interests of one of these two countries means an attack on the vital interests of the other. That is, each of the two countries is ready to protect the other with its own nuclear weapons.
One nuclear button for two
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