The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament warmly welcomed the suggestion that the Government is to delay the 'Initial Gate' decision on replacing the Trident nuclear weapons submarines, pending the outcome of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in May 2010. Previously, the Government planned to move on to the next stage of the replacement process during the Parliamentary recess in September.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said:
"This delay is excellent news. We hope the Government will not only make a major contribution to advancing plans for global disarmament at the forthcoming international talks, but also use this pause to reconsider Britain's possession of nuclear weapons. Given the worsening economic climate, defence cuts will be necessary, but scrapping Trident would be positively beneficial to reducing global tensions.
"The current defence review and the Strategic Defence Review to be held after the next election are excellent opportunities to conclude that the challenges of the coming century cannot be met by costly Cold War weapons systems like Trident. We hope Ministers are brave enough to share the conclusion of the Generals who recently described Trident as 'militarily useless'.
"We hope this is the first sign that the Government is really prepared to respond to the changed mood not just from leaders like President Obama, but also from the British public. Recent polls show a majority oppose the UK's continued possession of nuclear weapons. This will be a vote winner for whichever party chooses to free itself - and Britain - from the dogma of the past. We are a world away from the tense world of the 1980s - the public recognises this, but now politics needs to catch up."
Earlier today over 30 MPs wrote to the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary demanding exactly such a delay to the Initial Gate. They called for Parliament to have further discussions on Trident replacement before such a major spending commitment is given. CND believes that it is essential that such a debate takes place before the next stage of the project commences, whenever that occurs.
The Initial Gate decision, which would allow detailed design work to commence, is estimated to commit £2-3bn. The procurement costs for the new submarines are likely to be in the order of £25bn, with total costs of £76bn for the project when running costs are included.