“Performing Nuclear Weapons: How Britain Made Trident Make Sense”, Paul Beaumont (NUPI, Norway)

This book investigates the UK’s nuclear weapon policy, focusing in particular on how consecutive governments have managed to maintain the Trident weapon system. The question of why states maintain nuclear weapons typically receives short shrift: its security, of course. The international is a perilous place, and nuclear weapons represent the ultimate self-help device. This book seeks to unsettle this complacency by re-conceptualizing nuclear weapon-armed states as nuclear regimes of truth and refocusing on the processes through which governments produce and maintain country-specific discourses that enable their continued possession of nuclear weapons. Illustrating the value of studying nuclear regimes of truth, the book conducts a discourse analysis of the UK’s nuclear weapons policy between 1980 and 2010. In so doing, it documents the sheer imagination and discursive labour required to sustain the positive value of nuclear weapons within British politics, as well as providing grounds for optimism regarding the value of the recent treaty banning nuclear weapons.

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