UK must keep Trident nuclear deterrent - David Cameron


David Cameron: "Obviously the noises it (North Korea) has been making in recent weeks and months are worrying and threatening"

Related Stories

The UK would be "foolish" to abandon Trident in the face of the potential threat of nuclear attack from North Korea and Iran, David Cameron has said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said the country still needed the "ultimate weapon of defence".

The prime minister said the nuclear danger had "increased" since the end of the Cold War.

The Lib Dems want the UK to explore a cheaper alternative to the Tories' £20bn plan to replace Trident.

Mr Cameron is committed to maintaining a round-the-clock submarine-based nuclear missile system of the kind Britain has had since the late 1960s.

But the Lib Dems have insisted the coalition carry out a review of cheaper submarine or land-based options, including abandoning round-the-clock patrols.

'Nuclear blackmail'

Labour, which was committed to a like-for-like replacement for Trident when it was in power, has now said it will examine the outcome of that review.

The prime minister also stressed his commitment to Trident, which is based on the Clyde, during a visit to the west of Scotland.

"The world we live in is very uncertain, very dangerous: there are nuclear states and one cannot be sure of how they will develop," he told workers at a defence contractor in Glasgow.

"We cannot be sure on issues of nuclear proliferation, and to me having that nuclear deterrent is quite simply the best insurance policy that you can have, that you will never be subject to nuclear blackmail."

Start Quote

The (Scottish) parliament and 80% of the people of Scotland want to get rid of Trident”

End Quote Angus Robertson SNP defence spokesman

Mr Cameron had earlier visited HMS Victorious, one of the Royal Navy's four Vanguard-class submarines which keep Trident nuclear missiles continuously at sea, which is returning from its 100th patrol.

"I wanted to come on board and congratulate everyone who's been involved in those hundred tours and to say a big thank you to all those people so work so hard to keep us safe," he said.

The Scottish National Party has said it would not allow nuclear weapons to be based in Scotland, should next year's referendum support independence, a move that would potentially add billions to the cost of replacing Trident.

In the Daily Telegraph article, which was published ahead of his trip, Mr Cameron said the "highly unpredictable and aggressive" regime in North Korea was developing ballistic missiles that could become a threat to Britain.

He said: "We need our nuclear deterrent as much today as we did when a previous British government embarked on it over six decades ago.

"Of course, the world has changed dramatically. The Soviet Union no longer exists. But the nuclear threat has not gone away.

"In terms of uncertainty and potential risk it has, if anything, increased."

Mr Cameron said: "North Korea recently conducted its third nuclear test and could already have enough fissile material to produce more than a dozen nuclear weapons.

"Last year North Korea unveiled a long-range ballistic missile which it claims can reach the whole of the United States. If this became a reality it would also affect the whole of Europe, including the UK."

The prime minister questioned whether anyone would "seriously argue that it would be wise for Britain, faced with this evolving threat today, to surrender our deterrent".

"My judgement is that it would be foolish to leave Britain defenceless against a continuing, and growing, nuclear threat," he said.

Defence work

Shadow defence minister Kevan Jones said it was "absolutely right and necessary" for the UK to retain an independent nuclear deterrent but the cost needed to be taken into account.

"World events demonstrate that in an unpredictable era our country needs the ultimate security guarantee," he said.

"The precise nature of the deterrent must be judged on meeting military capability requirements and cost."

Mr Cameron has also spoken about the role of Scottish companies in supplying the UK's armed forces.

He described the work as more "secure" when it was as part of the United Kingdom, he said "defence jobs matter".

The SNP has claimed it would be a mistake for the UK government to place the Trident nuclear programme at the heart of its case for the union.

Defence spokesman Angus Robertson said: "The (Scottish) parliament and 80% of the people of Scotland want to get rid of Trident, and the obscene waste of up to £100bn it represents at a time of austerity and savage welfare cuts from Westminster."

Trident's Faslane base currently employs 6,700 military and civilian workers with that figure due to rise to 8,200 by 2022.

UK nuclear capability

Graphic showing how the Trident defence system works
  • The four Vanguard submarines which host Trident missiles can attack targets within a range of just over 4,600 miles (7,400km). The example above shows this range if the sub were located in the mid-Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the US has announced it is moving an advanced missile defence system to the Pacific island of Guam - where it has a significant military presence - amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

It came as North Korea said the use of nuclear weapons by its military had been ratified.

North Korea has threatened attacks on the US and South Korea in recent weeks.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 693.


    Yeah the total number of jobs for physicists in the UK will probably sneak into double figures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    When the other sensible nations with nuclear arsenals disarm, we should also. Until that time, giving up these weapons is indefensible*

    * Good name for one of our aircraft carriers. :)

    There are an awful lot of people in influence today, who think that because you don't want war, it won't happen. A quick reference to the last 5,000 years human evolution is instructive. Don't listen to idiots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    The traditional allies ought to be looking at a single and mutual defense system. Duplication is expensive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    Yet again, Cameron is exploiting completely unconnected extraneous events to justify a policy which his party would promote anyway to ensure that the UK continues to punch way above its weight on the international stage.

    Modern political thought should conclude that any supposed threat from rogue states should be countered by a European-wide defensive capability rather than national ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    Threats from North Korea and Iran! An absolutely absurd, manipulative claim that bares no relevance to reality once you understand the REAL truth.

    Firstly, Iran has not attacked a single country in well over 50 years, unlike the UK so who is the real violent one here. Second, N.Korean threats are a response to highly provocative military drills designed to intimidate them and provoke a response.

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    If any form of deterrence based on superior weaponry was in any way effective, why have successive Govt's taken away my right to own a gun? Same analogy, there are nutters & gangbangers out there carrying guns & knives with impunity yet the Govt. has removed my right to a deterrent.
    Knives are tools, rifles are used for hunting, what other uses are there for Trident?

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    i'm just glad that Tony Blair and George Bush aren't in power....

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    If David Cameron thinks that we should still waste billions on Trident why doesn't he bring it all down to the Thames and rid the Scots of something the vast majority of Scots don't want. I'd love to see him try to sell the idea to the folk on the south-east of England!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    Trident or yet more spending on welfare which is already too generous in many cases in this country - as a tax payer I'd go for Trident every time. Also lets have further cuts to pay for strike aircraft on our new aircraft carriers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    672: Theocratic Iran? Rule the world? On what basis do you assume the average Iranian is any more happy being under religous rule than anyone else? Iran tried to mend bridges in 2001 and we called them part of the axis of evil in return. I'd defend myself in that case, and try to have the ability to make nuclear weapons, like Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    Why do we think we're special? Most other countries don't have this deterrent. They're surviving somehow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    Trident didn’t deter the Argentineans nor the Taliban.
    Nothing deters an irrational (mad) leader as we seem to face in N Korea. If N Korea does start a war it’s unlikely the US would want to commit nuclear genocide, a punative invasion is more likely

    Trident isn’t independent. It’s under US NATO command at all times.

    We need boots on the ground, not costly status symbols.

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    too many on here with the do gooder attitude, good job were not all blind.
    leave ourselves defenceless you jokers

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    Waste of money, not only is cameron a lack lustre politician, he is a nothing general. We will never be allowed to use Trident without US say so and they have enough nukes to kill us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.

    They would just waste everyone else money on all those wind farms built by the UK consumer and bailing out RBS :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    "Last year North Korea unveiled a long-range ballistic missile which it claims can reach the whole of the United States. If this became a reality it would also affect the whole of Europe, including the UK."

    Cameron really is the heir to Blair with scaremongering statements like that.

    The US can handle North Korea if it needs to and without our help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    Im not a war monger by no means, but do people on this thread really believe that it is time to lower national security?
    The freedom of information act does not apply to military and security issues, yet some bloggers feel qualified to run the M.O.D. ?
    Whilst Scotland voting for independence could be great. Maybe their opinion on housing a national military defence system might change?

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    I thought there was no money?

    Is someone lying?

  • rate this

    Comment number 675.

    This weapons system is robbing the poor to defend the rich. Why should the poor need defending as they have nothing to lose. It's the fat cats that need protecting anyway this useless weapons system that will NEVER be used lets a 3rd rate power like Britain sit at the table with the big boys at the expense of the poor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    An attempt to distract the punters from far more relevant issues that have backfired on the government more recently, Ian Duncan Smith's blunder for example. Most of us can see right through this.


Page 75 of 109


More Politics stories



  • Shinji Mikamo's father's watchTime peace

    The story of the watch that survived Hiroshima

  • Northern League supporters at the party's annual meeting in 2011Padania?

    Eight places in Europe that also want independence

  • Elephant Diaries - BBCGoing wild

    Wildlife film-makers reveal the tricks of the trade

  • Hamas rally in the West Bank village of Yatta, 2006Hamas hopes

    Why the Palestinian group won't back down yet

  • A woman dining aloneTable for one

    The restaurants that love solo diners

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.