Special Relationship Sayonara; Приветище to Russian Reset

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , , , ,

This is not good and while I have been ripping the lips off the Telegraph for not having a clue, their new story about providing serious insight to Russia regarding the UK’s nuclear forces (and especially the impact on the UK/U.S. special relationship) seems quite substantive.

Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.

Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

This time there’s nothing to mitigate defense spelled with a “c” (pretend there’s a wink here).

The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal.

Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.

Before I forget: you still can’t spell Assange without a-s-s.  Now, back to your story:

Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.

Washington lobbies, UK refuses the request, U.S. ignores the refusal and provides the information none-the-less, apparently to worship at the reset altar.  Sigh….no wait…groan.  But is it a big deal?

Professor Malcolm Chalmers said: “This appears to be significant because while the UK has announced how many missiles it possesses, there has been no way for the Russians to verify this. Over time, the unique identifiers will provide them with another data point to gauge the size of the British arsenal.”

Duncan Lennox, editor of Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems, said: “They want to find out whether Britain has more missiles than we say we have, and having the unique identifiers might help them.”

While the US and Russia have long permitted inspections of each other’s nuclear weapons, Britain has sought to maintain some secrecy to compensate for the relatively small size of its arsenal.

In my mind, this is perhaps the most revealing WikiLeak since the early disclosures that Secretary Gates views Russia as a place where democracy has disappeared.


  1. Coyote says:

    I am surprised this story has not gotten more traction in both the UK and US. The 24-hour news cycle seems to have passed right over this without giving it a second glance. But, if true, the damage is done. Even if it is not true, the damage has been done.

    This story demonstrates that the US cannot be trusted in any international partnership or cooperative venture. Despite the rhetoric from the Washington administration calling for broader internationalisation of its space programs, no country should ever partner with the US, given the betrayal of its closest ally (the UK) to its traditional enemy (Russia).

    As a result, whatever partnerships the US establishes will be one-way. Other countries will expect the US to pay a disproportionate amount of the bill, to flow jobs from its own aerospace industry into other countries, and to share its military and industrial secrets without any fair measure of reciprocity.

    It appears the NewSTART treaty and the way in which it was negotiated has become more of a liability than a benefit. This is the risk of establishing treaties when they are not needed. There is a lesson here.

    Not good.


  2. Coyote says:

    Note to readers… After re-reading my comment above, I want to make it clear that I am commenting on the likely effect of the WikiLeak reports, whether they are true or not.

    Either way, there will be a chilling effect on the idea of partnering with the US. In this case, WikiLeaks will likely deter other states even further from partnering with the US in open two-way relationships.

    In the UK, to honour the WikiLeaks founder, they are building a new monument called “Ass Henge.” I wonder what that dude pays for life insurance?


    • Space Wonk says:

      possible wikileaks fallout: more political correctness and less candor in cables of all sorts (also consider the consequences of warmingate and server hacks); “enhanced” compartmentalization of said cables; reduced release of official information; Assange learns to favor soap-on-a-rope

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