Nuclear Narratives: Reflections on Declaratory Policies


RUSI Report - Nuclear Narratives: Reflections on Declaratory Policies

As Foreign Secretary William Hague  announces an overhaul of UK nuclear declaratory policy, a new report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) shows that it must fundamentally reconcile declarations of nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament.

'Nuclear Narratives: Reflections on Declaratory Policies' analyses the government statements about when and for what purpose nuclear weapons may be used; statements which form a central element of both nuclear deterrence and disarmament. These declarations range from security assurances and 'No First Use' to hypothetical terrorist scenario responses. However, as efforts are made to move towards a world where nuclear weapons are few or even non-existent, this timely report argues that there is an increase in the fundamental tension between the statements made to deter, and the statements made to disarm and reassure.

Written by Professor Malcolm Chalmers, this latest RUSI Whitehall Report explores the scope of nuclear declaratory policy developments and lays out possible options for future development. In particular, Chalmers suggests that further consideration be given to combining a commitment that nuclear weapons should only be used as a 'very last resort' with a clear acceptance of 'mutual vulnerability' between the five established nuclear weapon states of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The report, released as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference in New York draws to a close, follows the announcement by Foreign Secretary William Hague that the UK would conduct a full review of its nuclear declaratory policy to 'ensure that it is fully appropriate to the political and security context in 2010 and beyond', and increase transparency in its nuclear capability to help build trust between nuclear and non-nuclear states.

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