Last week, the British government announced an Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (the Integrated Review) to set the tone for the country’s global strategy in the post-Brexit era. It is regarded as the most important review of its foreign and defence policies since the end of the Cold War. Of the plans proposed by the Integrated Review, the one that has aroused the most discussions is about increasing the overall cap on the number of nuclear warheads from 180 to 260 in the coming five years. As soon as the news was out, not only was the plan denounced strongly by domestic anti-nuclear groups in the UK, but it also drew strong reaction from the international community. The German foreign minister criticised the UK’s decision as running counter to international nuclear disarmament efforts. A UN spokesman even warned that London’s move could have a damaging impact on global stability and efforts to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons.

For many years, the UK has been one of those western countries which have made the loudest call for nuclear disarmament. Even last year, the British authorities still emphasised that the number of nuclear warheads in their inventory would decrease further from 225 to 180 by the middle of the 2020s. But this policy was changed unexpectedly by Johnson all of a sudden — the UK will expand its nuclear stockpile for the first time in more than thirty years.

Defence Secretary Wallace said on Sunday that in the last few years Russia has deployed new types of nuclear weapons and invested heavily in ballistic missile defence, thus the UK has to maintain its nuclear deterrent as a counterbalance. However, it is noteworthy that Wallace also mentioned the UK’s nuclear deterrent has to adapt to and reflect the current capabilities of ”the Russians and others”. What the word ”others” refers to has inevitably led to some speculations.

The core of ”Global Britain” suggested by Johnson’s government as the new positioning of the country is about ensuring the UK’s global influence in the post-Brexit era. The Integrated Review shows that the UK still wants to do more business with China after leaving the EU. The report names China a ”systemic challenge”. But the US-UK special relationship is still the axis of British foreign policy. The ”Indo-Pacific tilt” emphasised by the report reflects both a shift of the international stage’s gravity ”from the West to the East” and the fact that Britain will closely follow the lead of the US. The UK wants money from China but it also wants to collaborate with the US in constraining China. The room for improving the Sino-UK relationship will be limited.

明報社評 2021.03.23:英國大增核彈頭四成 中俄法不會無動於中






■/ Glossary 生字 /

subdue /səbˈdjuː/:to bring sb/sth under control

set the tone (for sth):to establish a general character, attitude or atmosphere for sth

deploy /dɪˈplɔɪ/:to move soldiers or weapons into a position where they are ready for military action



作者: HK in UK