- BBC World News
A turn that few could expect: the new chapter that the United Kingdom opens after its exit from the European Union (EU) will include an increase in its arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Boris Johnson’s government announced Tuesday that it was ending 30 years of nuclear reduction policy pushed since the end of the Cold War.
The British executive decided to increase its arsenal, raising in more than 40% the top of warheads of the Trident program, which will go from a maximum of the current 180 to 260.
The measure appears in the document “Global Britain” an “Integrated Strategy for Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy”, a roadmap to guide the course that the United Kingdom intends to occupy in the world in this new stage until the year 2030.
The British sentiment was summed up by his Foreign Minister Dominic Raab in a speech Wednesday at a security policy forum, where he warned of three “dangerous and dominant” trends:
- “Democracy is in decline.”
- “Tyranny is richer than freedom “.
- The world order that came out of World War II “is crumbling.”
Russia, the “gravest threat”
In the document, the British authorities put a name and surname to this diagnosis: “Russia continues to be the most serious threat to our security.”
“Britain respects the people, history and culture of Russia. However, until relations with their government improve, we will continue to respond in a deterrent way and defend ourselves against the full spectrum of threats from Russia“says the report.
Relations between the United Kingdom and Russia have been in tension since in March 2018 London accused the government of Vladimir Putin of being responsible for the attempted murder of the alleged double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in an attack with a nerve agent called a novichok .
Still, it is not the only threat the UK describes, calling a terrorist attack with a chemical, biological or nuclear agent “likely” before 2030.
To confront such threats, it will not only strengthen its traditional alliances in NATO, the document says, but it will make “the largest investment” in the “armed forces since the Cold War,” Johnson said when presenting the document Tuesday to the Parliament.
Thus, the increase announced for the 2024-25 horizons in defense would be 7,000 million pounds more per year (about US $ 9,700 million).
These military and nuclear plans have exchanged some internal and external criticism for the government.
“This strategic review destroys the goal of several previous prime ministers, as well as an ongoing bipartisan effort, to reduce our nuclear arsenal,” opposition leader Keir Starmer accused Johnson.
“We are facing a totally outdated defense policy,” said Scottish National Party spokesman Stewart McDonald, who accused the prime minister of “violate the commitments of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons [de 1968]”.
Angry in Argentina
The British report can also be seen as a declaration of intent on the relations it wants to establish with other regions, including Latin America.
He assures that the country “will continue to develop a solid set of partnerships” with the region based on “shared democratic” values and “mutual interest.” And he mentions countries like Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and also Argentina.
And upon arriving in the latter country, it touches a thorny issue for Argentines: the Malvinas / Falklands.
“We will continue to defend the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands, guaranteeing the protection of the interests of the 3,500 people who live there, in accordance with the principle of self-determination.”
Response from the Argentine authorities Do not be late:
“The considerations put forward by Prime Minister Johnson reiterate the traditional colonialist view of the United Kingdom on the Falkland Islands and the set of British possessions around the world, “the Argentine Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Argentina “maintains once again that the United Kingdom must listen to the international community that promotes the end of colonialism in the world and that in particular in the case of the Malvinas Islands it has proposed, through United Nations Resolution 2065, that the way to resolve the sovereignty dispute is bilateral dialogue. “
The document mentions China 27 times, well ahead of Russia (14 times), the United States (9 times) or European countries such as France (11) or Germany (7).
Britain regards China as “an authoritarian state”, but an inescapable fact is revealed for British strategists: “China will contribute more to world growth than any other country in the next decade.”
Thus, the report values ”trade and investment” between the two, but pointing to China as “the greatest state threat to the economic security of the United Kingdom.”
“There is no doubt that China poses great challenges for an open society like ours,” stressed the prime minister in his speech at Westminster.
“Those who call for a new cold war with China or ask for a hijacking of our economic relations are wrong.[…]. We need to be realistic in our relationship with China, “he said.
The Indo-Pacific turn and other keys
The post-Brexit UK foresees a shift in its foreign policy towards the Indo-Pacific region.
“It is fundamental to our economy,” the report emphasizes.
At least 1.7 million British citizens live in the area and UK officials have had their eyes set on it.
It is what Johnson has called “the Indo-Pacific turn”, a projection towards “the economic engine of the world, where half the population lives and generates 40% of the world’s GDP.”
The report reviews other interests of the country for the next few years, such as its commitment to becoming a “scientific and technological superpower” by the end of the decade, their plans to face new pandemics for the future
Other relevant sections of the strategic document, such as the one referring to the promotion of the scientific and technological capacity of the United Kingdom, the response to face the practically certain arrival of new pandemics in the future, or “giving priority” to the fight against climate change and loss of biodiversity.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.