The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
This talk will examine the UK’s decision to build a replacement for its current nuclear warhead. It explores the potential reasons for the decision, the choices that the UK is facing in its replacement warhead program, and the political, financial, technological and strategic implications of those choices. This includes consideration of the challenges of producing a new nuclear warhead in the post-CTBT era, the state of the UK’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, the UK’s cooperative relationships with the United States and with France, and the ways in which public scrutiny of the warhead program might be improved.