Over the last few weeks there has been growing concern about the possibility of nuclear weapons being based at Lakenheath in west Suffolk.

To be honest these concerns aren't new. The reports have never been confirmed or denied but personally I wouldn't be at all surprised if they are stored there from time to time.

But I'm not concerned about that at all - I don't think it makes East Anglia any more of a "target" than it would be otherwise.

And I don't have any concern about the existence of nuclear weapons.

I am convinced that their presence has prevented many of the appalling wars that have broken out over the near 80s years since the end of the Second World War becoming a global conflict.

Over the last few weeks I've been privileged to be given a glimpse of the pagodas built at Orfordness to test nuclear bomb casings.

I've also paid a visit to the Cold War Museum at Bentwaters where the former control centre has been recreated to show what would have happened if things had got hot in Europe.

East Anglian Daily Times: Like Orfordness the Cold War Museum is a fairly bleak reminder of the uneasy peace underpinned by nuclear weapons.Like Orfordness the Cold War Museum is a fairly bleak reminder of the uneasy peace underpinned by nuclear weapons. (Image: Paul Geater)

Both places have a bleak feeling to them and are reminders of a time when fear and secrecy surrounded much of East Anglia.

But they also show the efforts that the UK and US went to in their efforts to ensure that western Europe remained free and peaceful.

I understand what anti-nuclear protesters are saying and I respect their genuinely-held views that these weapons make life more dangerous.

But I don't believe they "would never be used."

On the contrary, I believe they have been used every minute of every day since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima - to remind world leaders that the means for Mutually Assured Destruction exist.

Without them I am sure that one of the many superpower conflicts we have seen in the world since the end of the war could have erupted into a global war.

Berlin 1948, Korea 1950, Hungary and Suez 1956, Cuba 1963, Vietnam 1964, Afghanistan 1980, and the Middle East at various times over the decades could easily have erupted.

We currently see the horrendous conflict in Ukraine - but at least both Russia and NATO seem anxious to ensure it doesn't cross the borders of that country.

Without nuclear weapons would Putin be tempted to chance his arm in the Baltic states or eastern Poland? I wouldn't bet against it!

And "conventional war" without nuclear weapons is itself monstrously destructive - look at places like Mariupol in Ukraine.

There is, of course, a huge cost associated with building and maintaining a nuclear arsenal - but there would be an even larger cost with trying to fight a conventional war. 

The nuclear deterrent really does need to be seen as the ultimate international insurance policy.

And none of us likes paying for an insurance policy for anything - but most regard it as a vital safety net for the way we live our lives.

What is also significant is that while there have been spikes in support for CND over the years, today's politicians seem agreed that some sort of nuclear deterrence is needed.

When Labour has flirted with unilateralism under Michael Foot and Jeremy Corbyn it has seen its support slump in the country.

That's not because voters want our government to have the ability to wipe other nations off the map (while having our own cities laid waste) - it's because they recognise the protection these weapons offer.

And while no one can be expected to be too enthusiastic about having them in their back garden, the insurance policy really does need to be kept somewhere!