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Trident should be allowed to expire

Britain still has the world’s fourth largest military budget, spending about £34bn per annum – about 2.5% of GDP – on defence. In January, the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, published figures that show the Government is committed to expenditure of £159bn on new weapons systems, and by far the largest part of the bill is £35.8bn, earmarked for the replacement of the Vanguard submarines to carry Trident nuclear weapons.

The Government tells us the country does not have the money to maintain much-needed public services. At the same time it plans to spend 20 to 30 billion pounds building 4 vast Vanguard submarines, that will then cost us another £3 billion per year for say 30 years to keep patrolling the oceans waggling our Trident nuclear bomb at… well, at who actually? And then we will have to spend several billion more to decommission them.

Yet our national security strategy has downgraded the nuclear threat to “secondary”, and we have had no identified nuclear adversary since the end of the cold war. When the primary threat to our national security is the likes of the London tube bombers and international attacks on IT and the internet, how exactly is Trident supposed to deter our enemies?

Lord King, former Conservative defence secretary, has said having a nuclear deterrent no longer guarantees the UK a place at the “top table” of nations, and that he was no longer convinced by the argument that a nuclear deterrent gave the UK more diplomatic and military clout.

Danny Alexander MP, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said that a replacement for Trident is ‘not financially realistic’, and that a like-for-like replacement was not needed.

Nick Harvey, Armed Forces Minister until September 2012, said that keeping a constant sea-bound nuclear deterrent is “complete insanity” that costs too much and is militarily illogical. He added that it would be cheaper for the government to give every Trident worker £2m “so they could go an live in the Bahamas”.

Trident is too expensive, militarily ineffective and its renewal would go against Britain’s claims to be against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Those opposing renewal of Trident include an increasing number of Britain’s most senior military figures

It would be far better just to let the existing Trident fleet expire. This way Britain could disarm gradually, and set an example to the rest of the world and outing us in a position to vigorously promote international nuclear disarmament.


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