Former nuclear submariner explains why nuclear deterrence doesn't always work

11 November 2019, 13:01

The caller warned that nuclear deterrence doesn't work when leaders have a "crazy ideology".

A former nuclear submariner told James O'Brien: "The basis of the sort of mutually assured destruction that is in operation now and when I was serving was, against the Russians because that was the big Cold War enemy at the time, was that they won't fire us because they know if they do, then we'll reply.

Because it was supposed to be only a reply weapon, a second strike weapon, never a first strike weapon and then that will be the end of the world."

Deterrence only works on the basis, he said, that leaders don't want to end the world. That's because nuclear warfare would contaminate the world and make the world an unliveable place.

Former nuclear submariner explains why nuclear deterrence doesn't always work
Former nuclear submariner explains why nuclear deterrence doesn't always work. Picture: PA

James O'Brien asked why he worked as a nuclear submariner.

The caller said that he was "young" and "impressionable".

He then spoke about the power a nuclear submarine Captain has at their disposable.

He explained how they have a letter, locked away in a safe, unless they get a direct order from the UK.

If there wasn't regular communication, then the Captain has to make the decision himself.

He outlined the hypothetical scenario in which weapons were let go.

He said: "Say goodbye to your children, kiss your arse goodbye and then once you've let the weapons go, you know it's the end of the world. And then you just toodle off and, in our case, we used to discuss which sunny island are we going to go and sit and wait for the inevitable death from the nuclear cloud."

The deterrent does not work against an insane opponent or somebody with a "crazy ideology".

He said that, "without doubt" Donald Trump is the "biggest risk to stability".

He "genuinely" believes that Donald Trump would use a small 'first trike' and would "initiate the process".

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