New research published by Greenpeace and backed by senior politicians has warned that the cost of replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system will be over £95 billion – in contrast to the roughly £20 billion earmarked by the government.
The report, entitled In The Firing Line, is likely to put further pressure on Gordon Brown to cancel his plans for Trident at a time when people are suffering economically and there is much talk of spending cuts.
Greenpeace say that they used only the government’s own figures to calculate the cost. Former Tory Shadow Defence Secretary Michael Ancram wrote the report’s foreword.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury spokesperson described the research as “powerful evidence” that military equipment plans are “totally unrealistic in the light of Britain's serious budgetary constraints”.
The report explains that the price as given by ministers covers only the initial costs of new submarines, warheads and some building work on military bases.
“Annual running costs of over £2 billion over new Trident's planned 30-year life span have been excluded, as have hidden costs like those for the missiles on which the warheads fly and the military escorts which accompany Trident while it's out at sea” said Greenpeace, “Once these are factored in, we won't be getting much change from £100 billion”.
They insisted that “the cost of maintaining our 'independent' nuclear deterrent continues to increase in inverse proportion to its usefulness”.
The £95 billion estimate exceeds even the prediction made by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) that Trident renewal would cost £76 billion.
The Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, this week insisted that Trident renewal would go ahead after Business Secretary Peter Mandelson was interpreted in parts of the media as implying that it was being reconsidered.
The new estimate of costs is the second threat to Trident in as many days. Yesterday (17 September), US President Barack Obama’s decision to abandon plans for a missile system in central Europe put further pressure on the UK government to make their own contribution to nuclear disarmament by scrapping Trident renewal.