My Department regularly receives representations covering a wide range of views on defence matters, including the replacement of the independent nuclear deterrent.
North Korea recently announced that it had tested a hydrogen bomb and only yesterday boasted that it had the capacity to obliterate the United States. To what extent does my right hon. Friend think North Korea would be deterred in its nuclear ambition by the knowledge that somewhere below the surface of the East China sea an unarmed submarine was lurking?
First, let me strongly condemn the nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, which seriously threaten regional and international security. I can assure my right hon. Friend that this Government will not gamble with the long-term security of our citizens. We remain committed to maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent. The only thing a nuclear submarine without nuclear weapons is likely to deter is anybody who cares about our security from ever voting Labour again.
If the UK were to go down the route of decommissioning its warheads, in the so-called Japanese style, and then were to decide it needed to recommission them at some future point, is it the Government’s assessment that it could do so and remain compatible with the non-proliferation treaty?
First, let me make it clear that Japan does not have nuclear-powered submarines and does not have nuclear weapons, so talk of some Japanese option is entirely farcical. So far as the hon. Gentleman’s question is concerned, we have no intention of decommissioning.