Secret files from 70s reveal Trident strike needed 'to kill 10m Russians'

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The British government opted for the Trident nuclear weapons system because it estimated it could kill up to 10 million Russians and inflict "unacceptable damage" on the former Soviet Union, according to secret Whitehall documents written in the 1970s.

The macabre calculations that underpinned the decision in 1980 to replace Polaris nuclear missiles with Trident have been revealed by a Ministry of Defence memo, marked "personal and top secret". In a nuclear war, Britain would have had to be prepared "to finish what we start", it said.

Other MoD documents set out in chilling detail exactly how an attack on Moscow and St Petersburg could cause enough death and destruction "to bring about the breakdown of the city as a functioning community".

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw an escalation of international tensions in the cold war between the Soviet bloc and the west. In 1979, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, prompting a US trade embargo and a mass boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980....

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