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Fox blows 3bn on New Trident

Today the Tory government gave a new nuclear weapons system the official go-ahead - and three billion pounds for the Ministry of Defence to spend.  

 

Today's long-awaited "initial gate" decision efectively commits Britain to remaining a nuclear weapons state for decades to come.  The money will fund the design of new submarines, and pay for the steel to build them with.

 

Those who hoped that swingeing cuts in public spending - and military spending - might have had some impact on the Trident programme will be sadly disappointed.

  

The parliamentary statement was accompanied by a report, which outlines the work on the progamme for the new Trident so far, decisions taken at "initial gate" and work to be carried out before the "main gate" decision in 2016.

 

By 2016 the government will have already spent at least 15% of their estimated costs of the Trident renewal programme. The government will be in an excellent position to argue (as they did with the aircraft carriers) that they've already committed too much expenditure to turn back - nuclear policy enforced by commercial contract and the arms industry laughing all the way to the bank.

 

By that time most of the new and redeveloped facilities at Aldermaston will be built and commissioned, ready to build new warheads. According to the report, "Work at Aldermaston was reviewed during the value for money review with the aim of ensuring that we have the appropriate facilities and programmes in place to support the current warhead and eventually, the information required for a decision in the next Parliament on a replacement warhead".

 

Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox will buy the Lib Dems off by commissioning a Cabinet Office study into the costs, feasibility, and credibility of alternative options to Trident 

 

It's not hard to imagine an alternative to weapons of mass destruction.  But it is hard to change government policy. Today's announcement poses tough challenges and some serious thinking for the anti-nuclear movement.