Replacing Trident makes no sense, Centreforum argues

 
One of the UK's Vanguard submarines The renewal of Trident has major financial and political implications

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The government is being urged to cancel the "nonsensical" replacement of the Trident nuclear submarines and use the money to "revitalise" the armed forces.

Liberal policy think tank Centreforum says Britain is "sleepwalking" into replacing Trident at a cost of £25bn, while cutting the navy, Army and RAF.

It argues there is no current or medium-term threat to justify the cost.

The MoD said the government was committed to maintaining a continuous submarine-based nuclear deterrent.

In May 2011, the then Defence Secretary Liam Fox approved the £3bn first design stage for the new submarines.

However, the coalition government has delayed a final decision until after the next election amid concerns from the Liberal Democrats about the cost.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy supports the renewal of Trident, although many backbench Labour MPs are opposed to the idea.

TRIDENT TIMELINE

  • 2007: MPs approve plans for renewal in Commons vote. "Concept phase" launched to assess future submarine designs and consider value for money of project
  • 2010: Defence review decides to delay final decision on renewal to 2016
  • May 2011: "Initial Gate" procurement phase begins. Some building materials and components of nuclear propulsion system to be purchased over five years
  • 2016: "Main Gate" decision due to be taken. Submarine design and missile component contracts to be finalised
  • 2028: First replacement submarine to be delivered

Centreforum proposes that Britain should retain the capability to design and build nuclear weapons in case they are needed in the future.

But, it says, the UK's ballistic missile submarines should now be converted to an attack fleet and equipped with conventionally armed cruise missiles.

It says the government should invest the billions saved by cancelling Trident in Britain's conventional forces, which would otherwise face further cuts by 2020.

Report author Toby Fenwick said: "Replacing Trident is nonsensical. There is no current or medium-term threat to the UK which justifies the huge costs involved.

"A critical assessment of the UK's strategic position and military requirements leads to a clear conclusion: Trident makes no effective contribution to our security. Cancelling it will provide a unique opportunity to rebalance and revitalise Britain's forces for the 21st century."

The issue of a like-for-like replacement of Trident is one that has divided the coalition.

The Ministry of Defence said that as part of the coalition agreement, the Liberal Democrats would continue to explore the possibility of an alternative approach to delivering a credible nuclear deterrent, with a report to the prime minister and deputy prime minister due to be published later this year.

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Menzies Campbell, who is chairing the cross-party commission looking into the nuclear issue, said the report was ill-timed.

MPs were still considering a variety of evidence from experts and confidential sources and it seemed "premature to jump to a conclusion", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The chief executive of Centreforum, Chris Nicholson, said: "We are pleased that the government is carrying out a study of alternatives to Trident.

"It is important that the option of removing Trident from service immediately is considered as part of this review."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 210.

    I think the greatest threat to mankind is stupidity.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 209.

    USA already sets enough UK foreign policy - the disaster of Iraq. Without a credible and independent nuclear capability, UK will have substantially less power to make its own decisions. If you value your freedom as a UK citizen, then it's necessary to pay to maintain a credible nuclear force. Of course, there is a budget issue, but these are the decisions that shape the whole future of a nation.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 208.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 207.

    187...

    Hitler's organised nuclear offspring don't exist.

    Deal with the Real World and one finds the report's finding are rather disturbingly sensible and correct - there is NO current or medium-term threat to justify the cost.

    Still, it would be nice to have shiny nuclear weapons and millions living in poverty - see N Korea...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 206.

    In these economically straightened times, shouldn't we follow the example of 'waste not, want not' and use our old ones, before considering buying new?
    There must be at least one country Tony Blair could advise us to destroy for future generations?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 205.

    WOHHH......Just putting the ethics & practicality of this decision to one side for a moment.

    How is this economically viable? The numbers just don't add up! We are being told, like children, we can not afford new schoolbooks and Aspirin but daddy wants to by a new van! He might make out an argument that says, "WE HAVE TO HAVE IT BECAUSE!"

    but

    WHERE'S THE MONEY GOING TO COME FROM?! More DEBT?!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 204.

    Mao (The Little Red Book):
    "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

    We need to invest in education, the world needs more computer programmers, nukes are for losers who can't compete economically.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 203.

    Our conventional forces cannot protect our country from countries with nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them. The only protection is a nuclear deterrent. If we scrap Trident, we should scrap our armed forces. They offer us no protection without Trident and only serve as an attack force.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 202.

    What Defence Policy? If the plans and proposals presented by this and previous governments for the nation's defence being described as 'Policy' is somewhat an overstatement. As far as I can see we have a Nuclear deterrent which we will not be allowed to use due to a USA veto. One other point is trust, do we trust those who have their finger on the button?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 201.

    The idiots running this Country have now taken us from a form of non nuclear Military independence to total reliance on others, I can see our Military as being the equivilent of future Western world Gurkhas, it has been going on for years anyway NATO's mugs, british losses are acceptable. dont worry the Germans and Americans etc will pay for them and reap any rewards.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 200.

    There is a link here to the Scottish independence debate. One of the reasons the English Establishment are so against Scottish independence is that they are scared witless of Scotland expelling nuclear bases and declaring that it doesn't need to have its own nuclear deterrent.

    If the Trident replacement is cancelled, I think objections to Scottish independence will suddenly melt away.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 199.

    "thedukeofhunslet
    The Falklands are today both safe and British - thanks in part to our nuclear sub fleet."

    Sure, but the the nuclear subs armed with conventional weapons (such as sank the Belgrano), not because of nuclear subs armed with ICBMs.

    Responding to Argentina with nuclear weapons is not a viable or proportionate strategy.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 198.

    There are a high number of people out there that seem to think this is an Israel middle east conflict and it does not affect the UK. If say Israel launched a strike against Iran, Russia and China would no doubt retaliate and drag in the USA and the rest of the world. Wake up and stop all this live and let live UK liberal left nonsense.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 197.

    "Centreforum proposes that Britain should retain the capability to design and build nuclear weapons.."

    ironic really since Trident was neither designed nor built in the UK.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 196.

    Nuclear weapons are part of last generations "super weapons".We’re hanging on to it like a toothless cowboy gripping on to a barrel of TNT.
    If we had more current minded people in the MOD, we would be investing this money in EMP’s, which is a relatively non destructive way of causing a significant damage over a huge area.The A-bomb is all these oldies know, and can’t quite let it go.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 195.

    If a country is to be on the power league of nations, one has to invest in arms, Uncle Sams tells us that. So, swapping Trident system by catapults would be eco-friendly, but then one must learn to shut up when the Chinese, NK, Iran and others improve their systems. There are better ways to invest £25bn than in Trident, but sometimes, there are things in life that one has to spend for safety.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 194.

    I wrote to my MP about this a while ago - I asked "Under what circumstances can we possibly conceive the UK actually using a nuclear weapon?". Knowing full well the millions of innocent lives that would be lost, could we ever use it? Do we think that our having a nuclear weapon would stop a regime prepared to use their nuclear capability or other military initiative from attacking us? Really?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 193.

    If we want to persuade other nations away from developing nuclear weapons we should get rid of our own. The facts that there's nobody to use them on and that we're hard pressed to afford them just makes that decision easier.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 192.

    The World is not a safe place,,,,keep Trident. Would you rather rely on Morrigan? http://www.seawitchartist.com/battlecrow.htm

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 191.

    150 Thought police got my last post. No doubt was "off topic". Let's try again: we are seeing another left wing think tank HYS regarding trident because the BBC is biased. It is biased because it works closely with (and hires large amounts of) ex Mirror an Guardian hacks. It has a young, naieve workforce and operates an aggressively PC hiring policy. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator].

 

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