The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, says that she is not afraid to use nuclear weapons if she becomes prime minister.
Truss said she was “ready” to hit the nuclear button if needed and that it was an “important part of being prime minister”, even though it would mean “global annihilation”.
The topic was introduced at a hustings event in Birmingham by host John Pienaar, who quizzed the candidates about the most important and life-changing decisions they could face, including those about the Russo-Ukrainian war.
Pienaar said: “One of the first things that will happen when and if you become prime minister, you’ll be ushered into a room, a very private room at Number 10, and there will be laid out in front of you what are called the letters of last resort.”
“Your orders to our Trident boat captain on whether you, prime minister Liz Truss, is giving the order to unleash nuclear weapons.”
“It would mean global annihilation. I won’t ask you if you would press the button, you’ll say yes, but faced with that task I would feel physically sick.”
He asked: “How does that thought make you feel?”
Truss responded: “I think it’s an important duty of the prime minister and I’m ready to do that.”
She reiterated again: “I’m ready to do that.”
The UK’s nuclear defence programme created by the Ministry of Defence is called Trident. It’s a submarine-launched missile system, created as a ‘last resort’ which could “deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life, which cannot be done by other means”.
Nuclear weapons remain a subject of ongoing debate. After the destruction caused by the detonation itself, radioactive dust spreads over the world and causes deadly levels of radiation. A ‘nuclear winter’ occurs, (the result of smoke and soot from the intensive heat of the explosion blocking the sun) where temperatures globally drop 20-30 degrees Celsius, causing deaths and famine across the globe.
Truss alluded to the use of nuclear weapons earlier this year. In February, she said in interview: “If we don’t stop Putin in Ukraine we are going to see others under threat – the Baltics, Poland, Moldova, and it could end up in a conflict with Nato,”
“We do not want to go there. That is why it is so important we make the sacrifices now.”
As a result of this comment, Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert.