Defence Secretary in confusion over Trident

By staff writers
14 Aug 2010

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said yesterday (13 August) that the Defence Secretary Liam Fox had undermined his own argument for excluding Trident from the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Fox has pledged to push ahead with the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system, regardless of the review's conclusions about Britain's security and about other areas of expenditure.

But CND said that Fox's speech today had in effect provided a case for nuclear disarmament. Fox said that defence strategy should be led by foreign policy and that the review should “put the cold war to bed”.

CND insisted that the logical conclusion would be to scrap Trident, which they described as “Britain's costly cold war legacy”. They added that this would meet the UK's foreign policy commitment of nuclear disarmament, under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Liam Fox has today made a compelling case for nuclear disarmament - all his arguments point in that direction,” said CND Chair, Kate Hudson, “A review now, before a new generation of submarines is ordered, and which seeks to move on from the cold war, can only do one thing - scrap Trident”.

Trident renewal has been opposed by a number of churches and Christian groups, including the Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches, the Church of Scotland and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Individual Anglican and Catholic bishops have also spoken out against it, along with a range of faith groups, NGOs and trades unions.

Recent weeks have seen heated disputes between the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over who should fund Trident renewal. Nuclear arms have traditionally been funded directly by the Treasury, but the Chancellor, George Osborne, has made clear that he wants the money to come out of the MoD's own budget.

The official estimate of the cost is £20 billion, although CND place it at £76 billion and recent research commissioned by Greenpeace put the price at £94 billion.

In his speech today, Fox said that a decision on the matter has still not been reached. CND asked how the Defence Review could go ahead in advance of an agreement on Trident funding, given that the decision could have a major impact on the MoD's spending ability.

Trident is opposed by the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party. It is understood that Liberal Democrat MPs may abstain on Trident renewal as part of their coalition agreement with the Conservative Party. While Labour supports Trident, a number of Labour backbenchers are strong opponents of it.

[Ekk/1]

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