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Lib Dems oppose Blair's nuclear weapons plan

December 4, 2006 4:42 PM
Trident Sub

Trident will not reach the end of its scheduled life until 2024 so need to decide on a replacement yet

The Prime Minister outlined plans to build a new generation of submarines to carry Trident missiles. He said submarine numbers may be cut from four to three, while the number of nuclear warheads will be cut by 20%. A number of Labour MPs oppose the plan, but the Tories say it would be "crazy" not to have UK nuclear weapons. The Lib Dems want a decision put back to 2014.

Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell wants the number of UK warheads halved to 100 - a move he said could help kickstart multilateral disarmament. Sir Menzies went on to say that "There is a measurable danger that if North Korea and Iran are confirmed over the next decade as nuclear states, they will set in train a course of nuclear proliferation which will materially alter the strategic situation. It would be unwise at this time for Britain to abandon its nuclear weapons altogether. But a deterrent of approximately half the current size, and extending the life of the current submarine system, would be sufficient to provide for Britain's ultimate security until we have more certainty about proliferation.

Proposals to be debated at the Lib Dem's 2007 Spring conference in Harrogate, include:

Retaining the current Trident system but cutting Britain's nuclear weapons by half, retaining only up to 100 warheads.

Extending the life span of the current Trident system and keeping options open on a final decision until at least 2014 in order to allow a clearer picture to develop with regard to nuclear proliferation and to threats to Britain, its neighbours and allies.

Using the cut in warheads to kick-start multilateral disarmament talks and sending a strong signal to non-nuclear weapons states that Britain takes its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty seriously.

A presumption in favour of the most cost effective replacement for the current Trident system being a submarine system based on the Trident missile of 3 boats carrying no more than 24 warheads each.