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Should Trident be delayed?

11:45 UK time, Thursday, 16 September 2010

Britain remains committed to replacing its nuclear weapons but the timetable for financing the scheme could change as a result of a value for money review. Is Trident needed?

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said: "There is no suggestion that I am aware of either delaying any decision or indeed of delaying the procurement."

But he added: "The value for money study which is taking place at the moment - and which has yet to make a decision - may well look at the expenditure profile - the order, if you like, in which the programme takes different parts of the work."

But Labour warned any delays could put Britain's continuous deterrent at risk.

Does Britain need Trident? Should the decision be delayed? Are there any alternatives to Trident? Should Britain's defence budget be cut? What would a delay mean for the defence industry?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    'What would a delay mean for the defence industry?'
    In particular, it would pose a serious threat to what little remains of Britain's once-proud shipbuilding industry and the BAE yard in Barrow-in-Furness in particular, which has seen the workforce shrink from 14,000 in the early 1980's to around 5,000 today. It would also have a major impact on the training and aspirations of many young people from trades apprentices to graduate Engineers.

  • Comment number 2.

    No, it should be scrapped and never replaced.

    While we are at it we should scrap the two aicraft carriers being built.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes by about 1000 Years!

  • Comment number 4.

    What a complete and utter waste of money. And some of us are having to take ANOTHER pay cut for this

  • Comment number 5.

    Just watch the episode of 'Yes Prime Minister' 'the grand design'.

    We can never use this weopan, it's a cold war relic that we cannot afford.

    But like a man who tells his wife she cannot have the fashionable new handbag (who pays so much just to carry things about) then goes out to by a 4 x 4 off road vehicle (though would never consider driving it off road - it might get dirty) for £0,000's we just have to have it for having it'sake.

    This is a recurring problems with politicians, they cannot stop doing something that is pointless and too expensive because the act of stopping may be construed as a weakness. So we go on and on and on doing something because no one has the courage to say enough.



  • Comment number 6.

    There is a saying "use it or lose it".
    Iran, North Korea and Israel will be watching this very closely

  • Comment number 7.

    Should Trident be delayed? Yes, but not scrapped (yet).

  • Comment number 8.

    What do we need it for? Who's planning on invading us, now or in the future? Russia? Iran? The Vikings?

  • Comment number 9.

    The question is - will this once great country continue as a world power with influence or is it to drift to the third world disaster State that a certain Vatican official recently accused us of being.

    My opinion is that we should keep the nuclear deterent in a modern and deliverable form. That way, it will do what it says on the label as it has been doing since 1945. I don't think that our cold war enemies will be a problem but there are many potentially unstable countries either with the Bomb or soon to get it.

    Even delaying the project will be a disaster as we will lose out on the skills needed to build the equipment and that will enormously add to the cost if it is decided to go ahead in a few years.

    However, the cost of this and the short terms gains by saving a few billion here and there will not deter the bean counters in the Treasury and that could put all of our lives at risk in the longer term.

    Losing our military due to cost cutting is not unusual in this country - Dowding made a lot of enemies at Whitehall in 1940 when he insisted that the cheap perspex windscreens in our fighters be replaced with expensive bullet proof glass. There are many more recent examples in the current spate of spats that have involved our military where no senior serving officer is speaking up for his troops.

    Disgraceful - we either have a fighting force and a deterent to stop a nuclear power from being a real threat or we have nothing. There is no halfway.

  • Comment number 10.

    The trident replacement should be binned now and the money spent on something we can actually use. Nuclear tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles are available now and can be lauched from the Astute class submarines.
    They are much cheaper and can be launched from almost any sub with torpedo tubes. If we must have nuclear weapons this is the only sensible option.

  • Comment number 11.

    Can we pay for it now? there is your answer.

  • Comment number 12.

    Since there is no better nuclear delivery system that we can afford and that alternatives cost far more (upwards of 3x) that we really should be supporting trident.

    Unfortunately there have been a number of problems developing the system and for this we should be demanding a price reduction for missing completion targets (from the french). This is a problem though as labour let the contracts go through and so probably wont be in our interest.

  • Comment number 13.

    From a purely economic view, there are pros and cons. Putting off the decision will save money in the short term (and long term if a later decision bins any rpelacement) BUT deciding now to keep it should stimulate growth and keep people in work in the areas where the subs are made.
    Decisions decisions... still, at least thats why people become politcians, to make the hard decisions and not milk the expenses...:)

  • Comment number 14.

    Cancellation would be more sensible, but a delay, which could be turned into a cancellation is better than nothing.

    The UK should concentrate on protecting its own territory, and stop wasting blood and treasure as a world policeman.

    Since the UK is the greater part of an island group, it should concentrate on maintaining superiority over the seas surrounding it, by means of strong air and naval forces. Collaboration with the Ireland, which shares this island group is a possibility which should be investigated, as well as with our neighbours in continental Europe.

    Historically it has been the navy and air force which have kept Britain secure, not the army. Land forces could be minimal. Instead of the incorporation of the RAF into the army and navy, it would be better to incorporate army into the the navy and RAF by expanding the Marines and RAF regiment.

  • Comment number 15.

    No, it should not be delayed. It is the single most potent weapon in the British militarys arsenal and no matter what the state of the rest of the armed forces single handedly guarantees that the British mainland will face no military threat.

    You can't just whip up some nukes when it looks like you might need them unfortunately. Same as with every other weapon nowadays, they are simply to technologically advanced. The wars of tommorow will be fought with whatever tanks/planes/missiles etc. the combatants have at the start, and will be lost when they run out.

  • Comment number 16.

    Lots of voters think Trident should be scrapped. (Inc. me - we're not going to start dropping bombs on Iran or Korea.)

    It's a nice carrot to wave before the next election.

    Then:

    After election: "Decision made - Trident will be financed."

  • Comment number 17.

    Whats wrong with cheaper land based systems? Why the need to spend billions on a few subs?
    I'm pretty sure we'd have enough time to launch our land based missiles, otherwise why bother with them in the first place?

  • Comment number 18.

    The Trident is 95% of non-British manufacture.
    Even the warhead is now made by a non-British company.
    So, by what stretch of the imagination is that an independent deterrent?
    Now, unlike us, the French have an independent deterrent designed and made in France.
    If we are to have such a system, then at least let us construct it ourselves.

  • Comment number 19.

    Is Trident needed? Yes and no. No in that there clearly isn't a visible, imminent nuclear threat anymore and as such represents possibly one of the major reasons why the MoD is so strapped for cash and why its Defense Budget is so tight. Yes in that I believe it should be scaled back to one, operational nuclear submarine and the MoD should actively look, and invest, in other forms of homeland defense which don't have astronomical costs to run and maintain.
    Holding onto something like Trident for the next 5, 10, 15 years isn't economically viable for a government department which should be looking at less expensive homeland defenses and providing better equipment for our troops abroad.

  • Comment number 20.

    As we are now classed as third world, we shouldn't need any armed forces as we have nothing left worth invading us for. Save the billions spent on pointless weapons, and spend it on people at home that need it.

  • Comment number 21.

    The problem is, the current Fleet is past it's sell by date, and is running on 2 elastic bands and some chewing gum.

    Then there is the issue of the jobs that the Trident Project will keep / maintain / create in the UK ship building industry as well as the Defence Contractors and Missile manufacturers, these are all HIGH value and HIGH skill jobs, if we lose them, then there will be a huge delay while we re-skill to undertake the task (if we ever do).

    The question should not be "Do we delay it?" the question should be "Do we need it?" and if the answer comes back that we do, then it should be done without delay.

    Make the case for or against, and then decide the FINAL outcome, this dithering does no one any good, least of all the Ship Builders.

  • Comment number 22.

    I do think Trident or similar is needed. As resources become more scarce and populations increase, there is only going to be more chance of a war somewhere rather than less. Although most dont want to entertain the thought, sometimes droppping a nuke is preferable to a drawn out fight (look for example at US invasions of Japanese territory in the second world war. Scale up the casualties of the Allies and Japanese both military and civilian to what they would be from an invasions of the mainland. Compare and contrast with the casualty figures of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. See?)

  • Comment number 23.

    Delayed - but not scrapped or reduced - it is our one form of independent defense that has true meaning. I fully endorse removing our troops from Afghanistan and rather spend the money on our Navy and Air force.

  • Comment number 24.

    Is Trident needed?
    We must all hope it is never used but like insurance for your car and house we must pay for it or something similar. With modern weapon systems waiting until you can see a threat is no good, any major war would be a very short and violent affair over before you could replace existing weapons let alone develop new ones.

  • Comment number 25.

    Trident should be abolished, Mutual assured destruction is stupid, we should withdraw all of our armed forces from everywhere else in the world declare our independence

  • Comment number 26.

    Delaying it will cost a lot more than not delaying it. Something the UK has got down to a fine art. Think of the NHS computer system, Chinook helicopter development and the SA80 rifle. Should we knowingly repeat those fiascos?

    If we're going to have it, we should have it now.

    However the real question is should we have it at all. The immediate cost of not having it could be relinquishing our permanent seat on the UN security council and leaving France as Europe's only nuclear power.

    Some might argue that we no longer need it, but that's not a point of view that recognises what might happen 20 or 30 years from now.

    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  • Comment number 27.

    Whilst there are nuclear weapons in the world ready to be used this country should never give up its nuclear deterrent.

    What would we have to bargain with in any nuclear disarmament talks with the likes of Pakistan Israel and North Korea if we just gave them up whilst allowing these countries to carry on as threats to the rest of the world.

    The cold war may be over for the time being but who says it will not occur somewhere else in the future.

    It is the ultimate defence weapon when all else fails.

  • Comment number 28.

    If you are going to have a nuclear deterrent I dont see the logic in having one that only works 'sometimes'. So if we have it we need it to perform. If we can get the current system to work for a few more years then OK but if not then we need to take a deep breath and make the decision. No point delaying for short term financial reasons.
    I'd prefer it if we didnt have one, but then I'd prefer no war, no threats, no hunger, no homelessness, peace and love and blue skies every day. Meanwhile in the real world......

  • Comment number 29.

    I think so yes ...for the time being. All resources should go to our troops in Afghanistan which is the immediate priority. I don't think we are under particular threat of major nuclear assault.

  • Comment number 30.

    It is very easy to say 'we don't need this' BUT it will secure vital jobs in areas with poor prospects. If this is (and those carriers) are scrapped it will soon be that we do not have the ability to build new vessels of any significant size in the UK - yet one more industry would be outsourced.

    Which side are the unions on here I wonder? Lets us hope they choose jobs.

  • Comment number 31.

    It is decidedly the wrong time to be making large defence cuts, and strategic prudence demands continuance of Trident until it can be replaced with a more modern and more capable system. There are a number of serious threats to world peace, where a purely conventional confrontation would prove potentially ineffective, and would be countered with complete disregard for the sorts of ethical questions that tend to limit deployment and use of nuclear weapons. The capability to respond with massive force, when and if required, is a major deterent that is far from optional in these increasingly troubled times. Nevertheless, the new threat of biowarfare demands immediately increased spending on defence research, development, and implementation of entirely new technologies and means, or the new arms race will be lost, with consequnces as severe as losing the nuclear arms race would have brought about in the 20th century.

  • Comment number 32.

    We compromise our security at our peril, no point having a swanky house, nice job and a generally cushty lifestyle if you leave the door open to an aggressor. That's the problem, more and more baddies keep popping up throughout the world and you just don't know when they'll make you a target. So my answer is don't delay the funding for trident, it's just a pity we can't develop our own delivery system, and not have to always rely on America.

  • Comment number 33.

    Q. Should Trident be delayed?
    A. No, it should be taken off the table completely, as in nuclear non-proliferation.
    Q. Upon whom does Britain intend to use the Trident?
    A. Whomever you strike will likely strike back. Are you ready?
    Q. Ministers will decide shortly what kind of deterrent Britain should have and can afford alongside the current comprehensive spending review.
    A. If Britain needs the deterrence may I suggest that Britain has failed at political negotiation and/or tied herself, shrink-wrapped herself too tightly with the United States of America.
    Q. Cameron said he was committed to the renewal; so he must follow through, right?
    A. Nick Clegg opposed it.
    Q. Should Britain's defence budget be cut?
    A. Absolutely. This spending on war and killing must end.
    Q. What will it mean for the defence industry?
    A. Surely the defence industry is bright enough to produce something more necessary and helpful to the poeple of Britain.


  • Comment number 34.

    At 12:16pm on 16 Sep 2010, Kevin Orr wrote:
    What a complete and utter waste of money. And some of us are having to take ANOTHER pay cut for this


    No your not - you are taking a pay cut because the previous Government spent money on things we didn't need and couldn't afford. Despite the protestations of the more left-wing elements of the country, we do need Trident - what do you think has kept Britain safe since the end of WWII?

  • Comment number 35.

    8. At 12:26pm on 16 Sep 2010, Graphis wrote:
    What do we need it for? Who's planning on invading us, now or in the future? Russia? Iran? The Vikings?
    ****
    Dunno. but if I could answer that i wouldnt care, as I would use my future seeing abilities to win the lottery a few times and live on a desert island somewhere. The point is that defence needs to not only cope with what is happening now but what happens in the future. As to your examples:
    vikings - lets hope not! Those horns look painful...
    Russia - rearming, their bombers already intrude into UK airspace every so often
    Iran - well, enough said about their weapons on the news
    China - updating their armed forces at an alarming rate, and they are already (diplomatically for the moment) contesting land ownership with Taiwan (well, thats a given) Vietnam and Japan
    If our new carriers get binned, I wouldn't be surprised if Argentina has another go at the Falklands

  • Comment number 36.

    No, it should be abolished completely

  • Comment number 37.

    17. At 12:35pm on 16 Sep 2010, Anthony Rat wrote:

    Whats wrong with cheaper land based systems? Why the need to spend billions on a few subs?
    I'm pretty sure we'd have enough time to launch our land based missiles, otherwise why bother with them in the first place?

    ---------------------------

    Limited range, harder to manouver into position, and if we are hit bad enough how can we launch anything from here?

    Where as a sub can manouver easily without being tracked, harder to kill and can get within range of most targets and quickly.

  • Comment number 38.

    18. At 12:36pm on 16 Sep 2010, Cosmologic wrote:

    The Trident is 95% of non-British manufacture.
    Even the warhead is now made by a non-British company.
    So, by what stretch of the imagination is that an independent deterrent?
    Now, unlike us, the French have an independent deterrent designed and made in France.
    If we are to have such a system, then at least let us construct it ourselves.

    --------------------------

    At 5x the cost and without the expertese or the 'best' technology required. We are doing the same with UAV's and they cost far more than the US version + development costs. Also they aint as good as the US versions too.

  • Comment number 39.

    No way

  • Comment number 40.

    Trident should be scrapped.The Navy officer who presses the button on orders of the goverment will become one of the greatest war criminals in human history.Nuclear weapons are about killing civilians,hospital workers,children with their parents in the play ground or at school.The military and the politicians will be safe under ground.
    We could lead others into space technology investment as a alternative to nuclear technologies.First we must scrap our wasteful spending on trident.I want to wave British space planes landing mot wave nuclear evil subs back to britain.

  • Comment number 41.

    With the recent development by Raytheon with lasers and success knocking out drone aircraft, I would seriously consider spending a few billion perfecting these weapons for our defence. Who knows it may evolve to an air to ground system. As for Trident, never needed, never will be. If nuclear weapons are such a deterrent why did Viet-nam end as it did, why did Iraq continue for so long? Why is the Taliban running around with IED's and peashooter's killing allied troops? If you’re going to use it, do so, otherwise it is nothing other than words. What the UK needs more than anything is resources put into protecting the nation from terrorists - the real issue, you know the ones who can manage to plant bombs on our home soil, how long before that happens again?

  • Comment number 42.

    I was in favour of getting rid of Trident,{ A cold war relic} but with the Con/Dem cuts if any one attacks the U.K. we will all have to fight them off with big sticks, NO planes, no soldiers ,no equipment,

  • Comment number 43.

    9. At 12:28pm on 16 Sep 2010, swerdna wrote:
    The question is - will this once great country continue as a world power with influence or is it to drift to the third world disaster State that a certain Vatican official recently accused us of being.

    My opinion is that we should keep the nuclear deterent in a modern and deliverable form. That way, it will do what it says on the label as it has been doing since 1945. I don't think that our cold war enemies will be a problem but there are many potentially unstable countries either with the Bomb or soon to get it.

    ##########################################

    A failed argument that needs to be put to rest once and for all.

    We do not need this weapon system.

    The Germans do not have it, neither do the Japanese, nor the Canadians the Australians. Even the Chinese do not have it.

    Who could you use it against and when? When you are attacked? If anyone (presumably the 'unstable countries') attacked us with nuclear weapons then NATO would come to our aid.

    What would be the result of us getting rid of it?

    Do you think that we would be kicked off the UN Permanent Security Council? No.

    So what else?

    We are told that we would loose prestige, loose what? from whom?

    Are we to continue to pay out billions so that foriegn newspapers do not write articles about the decline of the UK? is that it?

    A papal nobody describes our multi-racial society as being like the third world (he was not talking about poverty) and you think we have to show we are strong by puffing out our chests and waving a very expensive weapon around (like some yob on a chav estate who has a couple of pit-bulls to show everyone he means 'business').

    It does not provide jobs as it is 95% made abroad. It is used by very few in the armed services (who are always crying out for basic kit).

    So can somebody come up with any new plausable argument, please?



  • Comment number 44.

    It may have to be delayed, but it will still have to be built as long as countries like Iran and North Korea are still in existence. It would certainly please the madmen who run Iran ,the other advocates of fundamentalist Islam , and North Korea if the threat of terminal retaliation from the west was removed. The only thing they are interested in is furthering their cause by violent means and the fear of getting a bloody nose is what keeps them in check.

  • Comment number 45.

    Agree with those that say the global threats are different to those during the "cold war" periods. But, hello, it was called the cold war simply because the doctrine of mutually assured nuclear destruction deterred sane thinking people from a first strike against us with a nuclear weapon. Whilst the leaders of certain states might be extreme, they are rarely insane and so the ability to totally destroy their state when, or if they contemplate using a weapon of mass destruction against the families of those of you who oppose Trident, remains as valid today as it was in the past. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Comment number 46.

    No trident should not be delayed.It should be scrapped.Even without it or anything to replace it.I believe,we have an arsenal of nukes capable of making the world a planet no one will enjoy living on and as I understand it,the purpose of the DETERENT,is to stop any one from wanting to do bad things to you.Then bombs,missiles and shells we already have are more than ample,to do that.

  • Comment number 47.

    41. At 1:28pm on 16 Sep 2010, chrisk50 wrote:

    With the recent development by Raytheon with lasers and success knocking out drone aircraft, I would seriously consider spending a few billion perfecting these weapons for our defence. Who knows it may evolve to an air to ground system.

    -----------------------

    This looks really cool but they are having a lot of trouble with temperature control and it only allows a few shots before it needs 'reloading'. They seem to be waiting for a better power supply which is coming but nowhere near ready yet.

    Sounds a good system if they can make it work but it wont be available for some time. There are even talks of ditching the project!

    Either way we need something for the here and now. We were unprepared for WW2 because people didnt think we needed real defences because nobody would attack us.

  • Comment number 48.

    of course we need it why are people so stupid please dont be so ignorant as to think we dont need it all the time if we get rid of it thats it the decent of the second roman empire into the darck ages exept this time west n east is swapt and we will fal first can this country get any worse any more complacent what is wrong with us wheres are balls gone

  • Comment number 49.

    41. At 1:28pm on 16 Sep 2010, chrisk50 wrote:
    With the recent development by Raytheon with lasers and success knocking out drone aircraft, I would seriously consider spending a few billion perfecting these weapons for our defence. Who knows it may evolve to an air to ground system. As for Trident, never needed, never will be. If nuclear weapons are such a deterrent why did Viet-nam end as it did, why did Iraq continue for so long? Why is the Taliban running around with IED's and peashooter's killing allied troops? If you’re going to use it, do so, otherwise it is nothing other than words. What the UK needs more than anything is resources put into protecting the nation from terrorists - the real issue, you know the ones who can manage to plant bombs on our home soil, how long before that happens again?
    ************
    Utterly agree on the point of proection form terrorists, but would point out that all the wars mentioned, people were dying in the country which DIDNT have nukes

  • Comment number 50.

    No, we must keep it. We'll be invaded by North Korea and China in an unpleasant 3-way the moment we scrap it.

  • Comment number 51.

    No the decision on a replacement for Trident should not be delayed, but neither should that decision be for a like for like replacement as currently planned.

    We don't need a submarine based ballistic missile system. This is only needed if you think we will need to retaliate to an attack by, or stand up to nuclear threats from, a super-power like the USA, Russia or possibly China. These are no threats.

    However we might need to stand up against the new or soon to be new nuclear powers such as Israel, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, etc. But to provide a deterrent against these all you need are nuclear cruise missiles that can be fired from our existing fleet of nuclear attack submarines that we need anyway for none nuclear deterrence. But this is a lot cheaper than the former and probably cheaper than maintaining Trident 5-10 years past is current end date.

    Trident and it's like for like replacement are a political decisions because we like to think of ourself like the big boys and think our place in the world is dependent upon being able to rain death from space upon our enemies. Ask almost any serving General, Air Marshal or Admiral and they will be against this decision which is purely political ego boosting nonsense.

    So

    YES - Make the Decision now

    YES - The decision should be to keep a nuclear deterrent.

    But

    NO - We don't need a like for like replacement.

  • Comment number 52.

    Delayed might be ok providing this isn’t a prelude to cancelling it. Every little helps in these financially difficult times. But the cost of a nuclear deterrent is always overstated by its critics. The capital outlay for a nuclear weapons system is peanuts, in defence ,terms when it is discounted over the several decades of its life.

    Ultimately though the money will have to be found as there has probably never been a time in post war history when a nuclear deter has been more justified. If anything we live in more dangerous times than the cold war with countries like Iran about to acquire the nuclear bomb and where Iran leads other equally unstable and hostile regimes will follow.

    As to the argument, expressed by some posting comments here, that a nuclear weapon is proved useless as we have never used it –that’s the whole point of a deterrent – the clue is in the name it “deters” enemies from even considering the possibility of hostility.

    The notion that a policy of deterrence can be replaced with a policy of discouraging hostility by pacifist example might appeal to teenage idealists; adults who live in the real world know better.

  • Comment number 53.

    "Does Britain need Trident?"

    yes, like a fish needs a bicycle.

    "Should the decision be delayed?"

    no, the government ought to decide now that no more (US American) weapons systems are being bought or hired with our tax money.

    "Are there any alternatives to Trident?"

    sure, especially after a widespread use of trident -- we would use sticks and clubs.

    "Should Britain's defence budget be cut?"

    yes.

  • Comment number 54.

    Nobody's going to invade us: we don't have anything anybody wants anymore; successive governments have seen to that.

    But attack us? Maybe... if we keep on interfering in other countries, someone may well get irritated enough to turn round and hit us first. But the solution to that is not to patrol the world with a big stick, telling everyone else what to do, in the first place.

  • Comment number 55.

    Trident was built as a deterrent to the U.S.S.R, and the Warsaw pact, neither of which exist anymore. It is of no value regarding any supposed terrorist nuclear attack since there will be no "nation" to blow the c**p out of and as to the threat of rogue states such as N.Korea and Iran, we're not going to be the primary targets and even if we were, the idea of killing potentially millions of innocent civilians because of a decision of government, is both abhorrent and illegal.

    The argument that we can use it in disarmament is fallacious as we have not been one of the participants in the discussions for any of the previous treaties.

    Get rud of it.

  • Comment number 56.

    43. At 1:39pm on 16 Sep 2010, JohnH wrote:
    9. At 12:28pm on 16 Sep 2010, swerdna wrote:
    The question is - will this once great country continue as a world power with influence or is it to drift to the third world disaster State that a certain Vatican official recently accused us of being.

    My opinion is that we should keep the nuclear deterent in a modern and deliverable form. That way, it will do what it says on the label as it has been doing since 1945. I don't think that our cold war enemies will be a problem but there are many potentially unstable countries either with the Bomb or soon to get it.

    ##########################################

    A failed argument that needs to be put to rest once and for all.

    We do not need this weapon system.

    The Germans do not have it, neither do the Japanese, nor the Canadians the Australians. Even the Chinese do not have it.

    Who could you use it against and when? When you are attacked? If anyone (presumably the 'unstable countries') attacked us with nuclear weapons then NATO would come to our aid.
    ***********
    Good point, although NATO didnt do much for the US when she was attacked by Al Qaeda. China doenst have nukes, its true but with the size of their armed forces (which incidently they are rapidly rearming, which has caused diplomatice friction, BBC has run some articles on this) they dont need much in the way of nukes

  • Comment number 57.

    The whole thing should be scrapped,what use is this monstrosity when most of our troops are fighting in the deserts of Afghanistan,About time this country came to its senses and realize that we are not the saviours of the world.If this is not cancelled now how many more millions will it cost in2015.This country is almost bancrupt and we still send millions abroad when a lot of our own go hungry.

  • Comment number 58.

    Should Trident be delayed? No, it should be scrapped. I would like to look forward to a time when the history of this country is couched in terms of the aid and help we have offered to other nations, not how many of their population we have slaughtered in the name of "freedom" or "democracy".

  • Comment number 59.

    We dont need this bling, its time we focused on paying our way in the world rather than prancing about on the security council just because we are wasting money on nuclear weapons.

  • Comment number 60.

    Who needs more thermo-nuclear warheads threatening the world's population centers? Save the money and buy something practical for the UK.

  • Comment number 61.

    It is not a question of do we need Trident, it is more what would we need instead. trident is the only real assurance we have and gives us a say in world affairs or we can sit back and do as others want. Getting rid of Trident only increases the threat to the UK.

  • Comment number 62.

    16. At 12:35pm on 16 Sep 2010, Jan-Ann wrote:
    Lots of voters think Trident should be scrapped. (Inc. me - we're not going to start dropping bombs on Iran or Korea.)

    Lots? yes, but the majority? No. Remember both the The Tories and Labour had replacement of the Trident as a policy and the number of vote they received was well over 51%.

  • Comment number 63.

    "18. At 12:36pm on 16 Sep 2010, Cosmologic wrote:

    The Trident is 95% of non-British manufacture.
    Even the warhead is now made by a non-British company.
    So, by what stretch of the imagination is that an independent deterrent?
    Now, unlike us, the French have an independent deterrent designed and made in France.
    If we are to have such a system, then at least let us construct it ourselves."

    It is independent because we control how it is used. It dosen't matter if it was 100% made abroad, as long as control of it is with the British government and military then it is an independent deterrent.

    In saying that, it would be better for us economically if we did build more of it ourselves.

    While I feel we will need a nuclear deterrent in the future, right now it's not needed. Delay it until we are in a better financial position.

  • Comment number 64.

    If the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, Iraquis or anyone else from an unstable regime wants to take a shot at us, I sleep easier in my bed knowing we have the means of defending ourselves and making them think twice before trying anything. Delay Trident renewal, but at all times keep a nuclear counterstrike capability.

  • Comment number 65.

    I understand that the current (and future) version of Trident is capabable of use as a First Strike weapon. So the notion that it can never be used - as some have said - is a nonsense.

    Personally I believe we should both keep Trident and upgrade it and the submarines as soon as possible. We should also plan on multiple deployment of the subs with a maximum of one boat in refit at any one time.

    We should then scrap all of our other armed forces with the exception of a coastal patrolling defence force (for fishing wars etc), possibly a small equivalent of what used to be called Coastal Command in gteh RAF and a small training cadre from the Army/Royal Marines to train (purely voluntary) militias for civil defence purposes. These could liaise and cooperate with similar militias in the EU if and when required.

    And if some outside power with a realistic threat value decide to chance their arm, then Trident could be used to wipe them off the face of the earth.

  • Comment number 66.

    How about we keep the £9bn a year we give out in foreign aid and the money the money the EU get from us and use this to update the RAF/Navy/Army with weapons made in the UK by our own people, thus providing jobs as well.

  • Comment number 67.

    Yes, but not scrapped. Perhaps scaled back. But given that Britain has marched across the world with the USA starting wars and making yet more enemies, we need protection against the possibility of certain unnamed countries that have the guts to attack us, which they soon will.

  • Comment number 68.

    This one again???

    Yes, Trident should be scrapped, immediately. No foreigners should ever hold the design plans to our most powerful weapons.

    If we need a nuclear deterrent, so be it. (I'm not sure we do, in this day and age, personally. Countries such as Norway and Sweden seem to manage quite well without one; I don't recall the last time anybody threatened to invade or bomb either of those countries...?)

    But it should be British-built. Giving foreigners - i.e., potential enemies - this much power over us is quite possibly the stupidest political decision taken in this country in the last century.

    Nor do we need the amount of money involved in replacing/upgrading Trident - which comes to something in the billions, if I remember correctly - to be going out of our economy, right now.

  • Comment number 69.

    35. At 1:07pm on 16 Sep 2010, Trevor_Mallery wrote:

    If our new carriers get binned, I wouldn't be surprised if Argentina has another go at the Falklands

    ######################################################

    We had nuclear weapons, including missile firing submarines last time and it didn't stop them.




  • Comment number 70.

    Iran has got nukes, or will have soon, and Pakistan is not exactly stable. The only thing these people will understand is MAD it worked with the communists and it will work with the other evil of radical Islam. Anyone who cannot see that is a deluded pacifist.

    We should continue with the plans and put more money into defence rather than cutting back. We can surely afford another 3 or 4 billion for the new aircraft carriers as well. We have done defence cuts in the past and nearly lost the Falklands. There are plenty of non-jobs in the public sector that we can get rid of before we need to start looking at our defence spending.

  • Comment number 71.

    Get rid of Trident as, by design, it will never be used.


    Spend the money on building the aircraft carriers that we do need and that will protect our territories & interests and will maintain british jobs.


  • Comment number 72.

    Big decision point for the UK, do we continue to be a world super power punching above our weight, acting as world policeman, being part of G8 and all that comes with having a sophisticated armed force which includes a big gun we can move to anywhere in the world without being detected. Or do we start to step away from that role and look inwardly? Personally however negatively we look at what Britain has accomplished in this role for the past 500 years, I think the world would be far worse off.

  • Comment number 73.

    Instead of building Trident why don't we get our shipbuilders to build something we actually need - like bulk gas tankers. This would save the shipbuilding industry and employ the people. Better than that it would be strategically more important to the UK's future, considering that all of our gas comes from Russia via pipelines. A much greater threat than Iran, and one nukes cannot resolve. It might also stabilize your gas bill too. That way we could spend the money but not waste it. When proper growth makes us rich again we can reconsider making Trident.

    But we won't do it. Politicians have a one track mind, and are incredibly ignorant about the real threats the UK faces, and the real solutions to our strategic and economic mess.

  • Comment number 74.

    The good news for the Navy is that it would appear that Trident replacement will continue to be from a separate budget. A Nuclear deterrent is a Political weapon, controlled completely by Politicians, the expense should be at their account, leaving 'domestic' defence spending to the MOD.
    The biggest problem with a weapon such as Trident is that Nuclear Deterrence relies upon the 'enemy' belief that the weapon will be used. From that point there has been no credible Nuclear Deterrent for years. Would you depend upon Mr Nice Dave Cameron, or Lib Dem Clegg to press the button? As for Labour!!!SO why spend the money.

  • Comment number 75.

    Reference post 43 JohnH:

    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to read and respond to my Posting 9 above.

    You comments do, indeed, have some merit although I cannot agree with you. The problems that this country will face if this country does dump its independent nuclear deterrent and I am right and you are wrong will make our current problems pale to insignificance.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this Planet would have suffered a 3rd World War were it not for the deterrent. The danger has not gone away although it has changed. And we CANNOT rely on NATO, the UN or the USA to come to our aid if we are attacked.

    The issue is the cost and affordability. As such, I think the deferring and eventual cancellation of Trident is a done deal. This is this Government being dishonest with the electorate (What’s new here one may ask). It should either cancel Trident and come up with a cheaper alternative but keep our conventional military spending to an index linked current level, scale down our military to a level similar to Belgium or similar sized country (this will also mean withdrawing from all overseas operations), or give the go ahead for Trident. The decision must be made now – politicians are elected to make hard decisions and get them right.

  • Comment number 76.

    We don't need lots of very expensive nuclear weapons.

    We just need one. And it should be massive.

    And instead of calling it something fancy like trident or polaris or neptune we should give it a simple name...

    ... like... Global Destroyer.

    This way we keep our place at the nuclear table while not having to spend a fortune maintaining a fleet of useless weapons...

  • Comment number 77.

    The Trident is 95% of non-British manufacture.
    Even the warhead is now made by a non-British company.
    So, by what stretch of the imagination is that an independent deterrent?
    Now, unlike us, the French have an independent deterrent designed and made in France.
    If we are to have such a system, then at least let us construct it ourselves.

    ----------
    Damn you mean we don't make our own weapons of mass destruction,it's a national disgrace!

  • Comment number 78.

  • Comment number 79.

    Currently, we have a sustainable deployment of about 10,000 troops. We might be able to manage 5, maybe 10 more sustainably. If the SDSR cuts 20,000 troops from the Army, we will not be able to sustain this level. If the MoD has to pay for troops and Trident, we won't be able to afford both.

  • Comment number 80.

    Get rid of our nukes and be at the mercy of anyone who has them. Notions of saving money should never take precidence over the defence of our country.

  • Comment number 81.

    The whole Trident debacle is yet another example of the extortionate 'tribute money' that our puppet politicians pay to their imperial bribemasters across the Atlantic for a weapon that the UK could never ever use unless the US gave us permission and allowed us to use their sats. Since Suez the UK govt. has been well aware that if they took any kind of independent military action the US would anyway attack us financially and wipe out the little economic resources we still have. If we had any politicians with courage the whole ludicrous project would be instantly scrapped and the money used either to buy cheaper Russian or French kit, or better still to develop a truly British and independent system. Oh and while they are at it they could also close all US bases in the UK and end the blatant US military occupation of our once green and pleasant land.

  • Comment number 82.

    We are no longer a superpower and rely on the US if we want to strut the world stage.
    It happens to all empires eventually.
    Accept the inevitable.
    We have never been an independent superpower since America entered the 2WW and we lost Singapore which highlighted the demise of the British Empire.
    Admirals always like the biggest toys.
    Don't replace it.

  • Comment number 83.

    45. At 1:44pm on 16 Sep 2010, GUNGHOBUNGADIER wrote:
    Agree with those that say the global threats are different to those during the "cold war" periods. But, hello, it was called the cold war simply because the doctrine of mutually assured nuclear destruction deterred sane thinking people from a first strike against us with a nuclear weapon. Whilst the leaders of certain states might be extreme, they are rarely insane and so the ability to totally destroy their state when, or if they contemplate using a weapon of mass destruction against the families of those of you who oppose Trident, remains as valid today as it was in the past. Wake up and smell the coffee.
    complain

    =============================================
    From this single statement it is easy to understand why Iran would seek a Nuclear weapon after all they are under constant sabre rattling threats from the United States, Britain and Israel all three of which have a long history of aggressive war based foreign policy

  • Comment number 84.

    17. At 12:35pm on 16 Sep 2010, Anthony Rat wrote:

    Q/ Whats wrong with cheaper land based systems? Why the need to spend billions on a few subs?

    A/ Err,............Because we, (in Britain), don`t have any?


    Q/ I'm pretty sure we'd have enough time to launch our land based missiles, otherwise why bother with them in the first place?


    A/ Err,............What land based missiles?


    This is about Britain. Go back to sleep.


    I`ll be quiet.

  • Comment number 85.

    When is it possible to act independently of the US in using these weapons?

    Why should anyone even wish to target the UK unless we carried out the first strike.

    The world has changed, we are no longer a superpower. The threats would only come from US enemies so why should we protect the US by having the weapons.

    Its the same with Star wars. By having the listening posts in Yorkshire would make them a certain hit in the event of any conflict.

    Its about time the US looked after itself rather than hiding behind minnows like us, Poland or Czechislovakia.

  • Comment number 86.

    Would I rather have better schools and hospitals or a weapon system that will never be used to deter an attack from an enemy that no longer exists. Difficult decision.

  • Comment number 87.

    Trident nuclear submarines cruising speed is about 25 knots, or about 29 mph, meaning she can cover about 700 miles in a day, meaning it would take a Vanguard class Sub about 26 days to circumnavigate the globe. They carry a crew of 135, 14 officers and 121 enlisted personnel, of which Women are not allowed to serve.

    In addition to the 16 missile tubes, each containing a Trident II missile or ICBM. The submarine is also armed with 4# 21 inch torpedo tubes.

    I question the routes of these submarines and other uses of it's weaponry.

  • Comment number 88.

    It should not be delayed BUT scrapped. The idea that apart from the US early warning sites we are of any importance to other nuclear states is laughable.

    There are far better uses to which the money could go, rather than to the mainly US owned contrcators who stand to benefit

  • Comment number 89.

    oh look, we can't afford it after all. there's a surprise. it seems we're at a bit of a crossroads right now, do we:

    a) buy more nuclear weapons off the yanks and stay on team freedom(tm)?

    b) consolidate trident with the french system and get the EU to pay for the replacements, thus distancing ourselves from the US?

    c) not renew anything, forfeit our seat at the UN security council when trident expires, make france the only nuclear-armed state in Europe, weaken NATO, distance ourselves from the US and spend the money saved on something else?

    b.

    56. At 1:54pm on 16 Sep 2010, Trevor_Mallery wrote:

    China doenst have nukes, its true but with the size of their armed forces (which incidently they are rapidly rearming, which has caused diplomatice friction, BBC has run some articles on this) they dont need much in the way of nukes

    China does have nukes. the last estimate by the institute for strategic studies says they have 90 ICBMs with roughly 400 warheads. China also has the shortest development time from fission to fusion warheads in history. we know a bit less about China's nukes because they tested them on their own soil and not some inhabited tropical paradise in the south pacific, unlike a few countries I can think of..

  • Comment number 90.

    Ironic comment:

    How much would it cost to place a small but powerful nuclear device in secure, covert locations in all the capitals of the countries that are likely to threaten the UK or its allies, with the explict threat that they would be detonated if we are attacked? I think this might be cheaper than renewing Trident and would still be a deterrent (though not the 'British' way!)

    Serious comment:

    The TDR phrase : "Speak softly and carry a big stick" is appropriate here. In our policies we should aim always to use diplomacy ("To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war" - Churchill) but have in our back pocket something that any aggressor would not wish to mess with. Nuclear weapons are no good against insurgency and terrorism, but they inhibit opportunism by countries lead by fanatics or wishing to develop their own nuclear capability.

    If we can replace Trident with something equally effective in this role and much cheaper, then we should do so. If not, we must replace it and include it in our national budget, which means that something else will have to give.

  • Comment number 91.

    At 12:28pm on 16 Sep 2010, l j s wrote:
    The trident replacement should be binned now and the money spent on something we can actually use. Nuclear tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles are available now and can be lauched from the Astute class submarines.
    They are much cheaper and can be launched from almost any sub with torpedo tubes. If we must have nuclear weapons this is the only sensible option.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Agree 100%. "If" we "must" still have these weapons, then this represents a decent approach. If as some people have suggested the former cold war threats aren't the issue, but states such as Iran, North Korea "may" be, then what's the point in having an enormous, cold war style response? Nuclear tipped tomahawks fired from the Astute class SSNs provide the capability of hitting certain targets without having massively expensive delivery systems to do so.

    The counter to this would be "aah, but they could be shot down with greater ease"... To which I would say, plenty of tomahawks seemed to "get through" in the Iraq wars even with a dedicated anti air defence. The cost of not replacing them must surely outweigh the cost of actually replacing them? I can't believe for one minute that the entire British ship building industry is solely reliant on these replacements? The strain and fiscal drain that these vessels represent to the RN are enormous. Far better to maintain regular armed forces that likely (unfortunately) WILL be used, such as the replacement carriers for the Invincible class "carriers" in use today. This is also coming from a former member of the RN. Bin Trident, use alternative methods, save cash. Done.

  • Comment number 92.

    No, it should be scrapped. Our workers are among the most skilled on Earth. Why should they need to bolster American exports by these WMD's?
    Let the workers bid for work that will make the UK an exporting nation, and not just taking the crumbs from some foreigners table.

  • Comment number 93.

    "70. At 2:19pm on 16 Sep 2010, Graham wrote:
    Iran has got nukes, or will have soon, and Pakistan is not exactly stable. The only thing these people will understand is MAD it worked with the communists and it will work with the other evil of radical Islam. Anyone who cannot see that is a deluded pacifist."

    There are just 9 countries in the world who have or are believed to have nuclear weapons.

    Are you saying the other 180+ countries in the world are ALL deluded pacifists?

  • Comment number 94.

    We should treat Trident as an expensive insurance policy. It may seem like money down the drain , but you never know when you're going to need it. Ours is a dangerous world and it pays to have the best insurance money can buy.

  • Comment number 95.

    69. At 2:17pm on 16 Sep 2010, JohnH wrote:
    35. At 1:07pm on 16 Sep 2010, Trevor_Mallery wrote:

    If our new carriers get binned, I wouldn't be surprised if Argentina has another go at the Falklands

    ######################################################

    We had nuclear weapons, including missile firing submarines last time and it didn't stop them.
    *************
    Very true. We also had carriers, although that was a surprise to most people as we had already announced we were scrapping them, and essentially the RN had already got out of the business of full scale fleet carriers anyway. Perhaps if we had made it clear that the cut down carriers that we had were being kept, there wouldn't have been a war. And that, boys and girls, is what a deterrent is!

  • Comment number 96.

    34. At 1:06pm on 16 Sep 2010, Chris wrote:
    ...we do need Trident - what do you think has kept Britain safe since the end of WWII?

    Safe from what? Certainly not from terrorist attacks. Are you seriously suggesting that without Trident the UK would have been invaded or even nuked? Those countries without nuclear weapons seem to be managing well enough.

    Here's the irony. Trident makes us all less safe. A world with proliferating nuclear weapons is a world heading for destruction. We should accept our obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and scrap Trident.

  • Comment number 97.

    What about linking up with the french to manage a pan EUropean nuclear deterent? I would even go so far as to see what other memberstate of the Union would opt in to help cover the cost.
    That way we can STILL afford our carriers while maintaining our seat at the table of international affairs and some sort of first and second strike capability.

    If enough countries opt in we may even be able to make a massive saving....

  • Comment number 98.

    The Trident is all we really need, for final defence, we are not the World's policeman.

  • Comment number 99.

    Britain does not need the Trident. The billions that are spent on weapons could (and should) be spent on education, health, and crime control. Why are cuts being made in money spent on policing and health care (not only in the UK but here in Canada and in other ccountries) while our governments are wasting billions on weapons systems? A delay or cancelation would obviously negatively effect the defense industry but don't we need more doctors, nurses and policing?
    I won't get started on government financial mismanagement and corruption.

  • Comment number 100.

    • 17. At 12:35pm on 16 Sep 2010, Anthony Rat wrote:
    Whats wrong with cheaper land based systems? Why the need to spend billions on a few subs?
    I'm pretty sure we'd have enough time to launch our land based missiles, otherwise why bother with them in the first place?

    Because the enemy knows where they are and will use first strike capabilities, You do not need a nuclear strike to take out a nuclear weapon.

 

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