For Immediate Release
British Parliament Voting on Trident Replacement Next Week
On Monday, July 18, the UK parliament will vote on whether or not to replace Trident, the UK’s nuclear weapon system.
It is yet unknown whether MPs will be asked to support replacement in principle, or whether they will be asked to consent to the building of four new submarines, at a cost of roughly $53 billion. The lifetime cost of Trident replacement is believed to be at least $266 billion. The UK has already spent over $4 billion on Trident replacement, before the vote has occurred.
Since 1969, a British submarine carrying nuclear weapons has always been on patrol in the world’s oceans. The UK’s current nuclear-armed fleet consists of four submarines. The subs carry up to 16 Trident II D5 missiles, and each can be fitted with a number of nuclear warheads directed at different targets. Currently, the government spends approximately 6% of its annual defense budget on Trident.
What is not widely known is the fact that the UK does not own the Trident missiles, but rather leases them from the United States. British subs must regularly visit the US Navy’s base at King’s Bay, Georgia, for maintenance or re-arming. And since Britain has no missile test site of its own, it tries out its weapons under US supervision at Cape Canaveral, off the Florida coast.
Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the UK-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, (CND) expressed the feeling of many when she said, “It is quite extraordinary that our government should commit itself to such profligate spending when the utility of such submarines–in defense technology terms–has long passed. The government, and all supporters of Trident replacement, are to be condemned for their short-sighted, head-in-the-sand approach to Britain’s defense.”
At present, the UK is being sued in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court in the world, by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The case aims to hold the UK accountable for violating international law by failing to uphold its nuclear disarmament obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law. Replacement of Trident would clearly violate the UK’s obligation to bring the nuclear arms race to an early end and is further evidence the UK considers itself above the law and does not take seriously its treaty commitments.
David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and a consultant to the RMI in its lawsuit, commented, “We support the people of the UK in their move to end the government’s dangerous and expensive plans to replace their Trident submarine fleet. The UK could use this unprecedented opportunity of the vote in parliament to do the right thing by voting down the Trident replacement and commencing negotiations for total nuclear disarmament. This vote is not only about Trident. A ‘NO’ vote will help protect the future of civilization.”
For more information about the RMI’s lawsuit against the UK at the International Court of Justice, visit nuclearzero.org.
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The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation was founded in 1982. Its mission is to educate and advocate for peace and a world free of nuclear weapons and to empower peace leaders. The Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organization with consultative status to the United Nations and is comprised of individuals and groups worldwide who realize the imperative for peace in the Nuclear Age.