Transcript of Prime Minister David Cameron Q&A at New York University (Excerpts)

March 15, 2012

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • United States

. . .


Good afternoon, Prime Minister. My name is Hill Krishnan. I teach International Relations in the Global Affairs department at New York University. And I'm a proud American and I've been trained by the US Department of Energy, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Safeguard and Security. Now, you can know where the question is going. It's a two-part question. While we do the important job of urging Iran to not achieve nuclear weapons, what is UK doing to reduce its stockpile or eliminate its nuclear weapons? That's my first point.

Second is that I'm running for City Council for New York City; and as a beginning politician, what would you recommend for me? What advice would you give me?

Prime Minister

On the first question, Britain has got a pretty good record of reducing the size and the scale of our nuclear deterrent. We have reduced the number of our warheads considerably over recent years. We're one of the original nuclear powers. We're not going to dis-invent nuclear weapons in our world and so I believe the British position, that we will maintain that nuclear deterrent, renew that nuclear deterrent so that it is fit for purpose, is the right thing to do. It is, for a country like mine, just as it is for a country like yours, the ultimate insurance policy in an unsafe and dangerous world. So, yes, it's expensive to have submarines that can be continuously at sea, as your Ohio class and our submarines are able to do, but I think it's right for our countries.

The question with Iran is that it would be dangerous for the whole world, it would be dangerous for the region, for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. But also, you're dealing with a country that has expressly said it wants to wipe Israel off the map. And so, I think it is a clear danger to the world, Iran having a nuclear weapon. And that is why I think Britain and America and other countries are taking every action we can to pile the pressure on Iran to take a different path. To say to the Iranians, 'If you want civil nuclear power, you can have civil nuclear power and we'll even help you to make sure you achieve that in a safe way. But you should not be heading towards a nuclear weapon'.