This Survival Seminar addressed the questions raised in William Walker’s article ‘Trident’s Replacement and the Survival of the United Kingdom’ published in the October–November 2015 issue. Walker argues that by ignoring Scottish parliamentary opposition to Trident’s renewal and its basing in the Clyde, the UK government would risk contributing to pressure for Scottish independence. He suggests that if Scotland were to become independent, the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent would be jeopardised. ‘The irony of ironies’, he concludes, ‘is that a system designed to guarantee the UK’s survival could hasten its political demise.’

Is there a way out of this dilemma?

William Walker is Professor Emeritus of International Relations at the University of St Andrews. He worked at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, before moving to St Andrews in 1996. His many publications on nuclear affairs include, with David Albright and Frans Berkhout, Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium: World Inventories, Capabilities and Policies (1997); Nuclear Entrapment: THORP and the Politics of Commitment (1999); with Malcolm Chalmers, Uncharted Waters: The UK, Nuclear Weapons and the Scottish Question (2001); Weapons of Mass Destruction and International Order (Adelphi Paper, 2004); ‘Nuclear enlightenment and counter-enlightenment’ (International Affairs, May 2007); ‘The UK, threshold status and responsible sovereignty’ (International Affairs, March 2010); A Perpetual Menace: Nuclear Weapons and International Order (2012); and, with Nicholas Wheeler, ‘The problem of weak nuclear states’ (Nonproliferation Review, November 2013).

This meeting was chaired by Dr Matthew Harries, Managing Editor, Survival, and Research Fellow, IISS. It took place in the Trafalgar Room at Arundel House, 13-15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London WC2R 3DX.


Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is one of the world’s leading forums for analysis and debate of international and strategic affairs. Shaped by its editors to be both timely and forward thinking, the journal encourages writers to challenge conventional wisdom and bring fresh, often controversial, perspectives to bear on the strategic issues of the moment. With a diverse range of authors, Survival aims to be scholarly in depth while vivid, well written and policy-relevant in approach. Through commentary, analytical articles, case studies, forums, review essays, reviews and letters to the editor, the journal promotes lively, critical debate on issues.

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Event details

Survival Seminar
Professor William Walker, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of St Andrews
Arundel House, London
Friday 4 December, 1.30pm-2.30pm

Trident and the Survival of the UK

A nuclear-weapon system designed to guarantee the UK’s survival could hasten its political demise, argues William Walker in the August-September 2015 issue of Survival.