New defence secretary faces further Trident nuke challenge

By staff writers
June 9, 2009

The UK's new Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth has faced a call to delay plans for the Trident nuclear weapons system until MPs have had the opportunity to debate them.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) called on him to make a mark in his new job by announcing a delay to the next phase of Trident renewal, which is expected to be given the go-ahead in September. However, Parliament will be in recess at the time and MPs will thus be unable to discuss the situation.

Churches and faith groups, along with peace organisations and politicians, have called for the scrapping of what they argue is a wasteful, dangerous and unnecessary Trident programme.

CND Chair Kate Hudson said, "The new Cabinet has to face facts. The Labour government has gone against the grain of public opinion on too many issues, one of which is Trident. Aside from the moral argument, the country cannot afford to waste public money on replacing Trident, particularly in the current economic crisis."

She continued: "The idea that the government will give the nod to costly new design work whilst Parliament is closed for the summer is outrageous.”

Over 150 MPs have now signed a motion asking that the decision be debated in Parliament.

Hudson added that “At a time when President Obama is leading new disarmament initiatives, there is no case for Trident replacement.”

CND's call gives Ainsworth a chance to make a big impact in his first week in the job. He took over as Defence Secretary on Friday, following the resignation of John Hutton on a dramatic day of resignations and reshuffling.

Ainsworth previously served as a junior defence minister under Hutton, who was often accused of being too close to the arms industry.

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