EACH time an election comes around the same matter stirs the mind of several of your correspondents. That they are free to air these views is a requisite of a democratic society and I respect their right to do so, but at the same time I totally reject their premise.

Let me deal with some of the points raised by Brian M Quail (Letters, November 25), who composes numerous epistles in opposition to nuclear weapons in particular and the participation of the United Kingdom in the maintenance of a nuclear deterrent.

Mikhail Gorbachev has stated that “nuclear weapons must be destroyed”, a noble thought from man who is widely regarded as having contributed greatly to the end of the cold war. It should also be noted that while in power and promoting Glasnost he recognised that the Soviet Union should maintain a minimal number of nuclear weapons for "protection".

Nuclear deterrence is not about “being second to murder millions of people”, it is about stopping the unthinkable. Therefore, it requires a visible and viable policy. A policy that extends from the hardware, the dedication and training of the crews and the political will of our elected representatives to carry out and maintain the ethos of deterrence. It follows from this that any prospective candidate for Prime Minister whose political manifesto includes deterrence must answer yes to the question posed to Jo Swinson and I applaud her candour and honesty.

In order for deterrence to work, as it has for the last 74 years, brave and dedicated servicemen and women such as the captain of the first Vanguard class missile boat whom Mr Quail quotes as having said “with this thing we can hit any target in the world from anywhere” have to train hard to do the unthinkable. It is this dedication that enables the United Kingdom to play its part in keeping the spectre of nuclear Armageddon away from the world.

This will be the case until the world finds a way to multilaterally disarm and of equal importance put the nuclear genie back in the bottle, seal it and bury it in the deepest part of the oceans.

I now pose a few questions to those who oppose nuclear weapons.

What nation or group of nations, in this dangerous world, goes first in the attempt to rid the world of nuclear weapons? Should it be, in alphabetical order, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and/or the United States?

Would I feel safer if the Western democracies abandoned all nuclear weapons in the hope that Vladimir Putin’s Russia, North Korea and China would follow?

Would I sleep safe in my bed if the only countries in the world with nuclear weapons were Russia, North Korea and China?

Would the world be a safer place if the only powers with access to nuclear weapons were states ruled by religious zealots?

My answer to these questions is that I would not be safer and neither would anyone.

Joe Hughes, Wishaw.