Government announces intention to maintain the UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Lunedì, 4 dicembre 2006 4.58

LONDRA, 4 dicembre (Reuters) - Il primo ministro Tony Blair ha deciso di rinnovare l'arsenale nucleare britannico per restare al passo col 21esimo secolo, annunciando che il governo prevede di ordinare nuovi sottomarini nucleari che andranno a sostituire la flotta esistente.

Blair ha aggiunto che il governo intende allungare la vita del missile Trident D5 di produzione Usa.

Ma in una concessione fatta alle decine di parlamentari del suo partito laburista contrari a investimenti per miliardi di sterline in un nuovo sistema di armi nucleari, Blair ha fatto sapere che la Gran Bretagna apporterà tagli del 20% alle sue testate nucleari per portarle a meno di 160 e potrebbe decidere di ridurre la sua flotta di sottomarini da quattro a tre unità.

Government announces intention to maintain the UK's Nuclear Deterrent
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, today signalled the Government’s intention to maintain Britain’s nuclear deterrent beyond the 2020s.

An exhaustive review of possible future nuclear threats and deterrent options has shown that renewing the Trident system, by replacing the submarines and extending the life of the Trident missiles, is the best and most cost-effective way to maintain our ability to deter future nuclear threats to the UK.

As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to working towards disarmament, the Prime Minister also announced a further 20 per cent reduction in the number of nuclear warheads, taking the overall reduction since 1997 to 50 per cent compared to previous plans.

The procurement costs of renewing the Trident system will average around £1 billion per annum during 2012-2027 – comparable to the costs of procuring the current system, and less than 0.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The investment required to maintain our deterrent will not come at the expense of the conventional capabilities our Armed Forces need.

The Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne said:
“It is the job of Government to strike a balance between working towards a safer world, and protecting the security of the UK and its citizens – both now and in the future.

“The UK’s security situation has changed since the end of the Cold War – but while the threat has changed, it has not gone away.

“The number of countries equipped with nuclear weapons has continued to grow. We cannot rule out the possibility that at some point in the next fifty years Britain could face a new nuclear threat. To decide now to run down our deterrent would be taking a huge gamble with Britain’s future security. A gamble I am not prepared to take.”

The Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, said:
"I am confident that this White Paper strikes the right balance between our responsibility to maintain national security and our duty to contribute towards global disarmament. There are still large nuclear stockpiles across the world. We cannot rule out future threats from nuclear-armed opponents. We need to maintain a minimum but credible nuclear capability to deter them if necessary. We have shown over the last 50 years that our deterrent is used to prevent war, not to coerce others.

“This decision to retain our deterrent at minimum levels is fully compatible with all our international legal obligations. We remain committed to working for a world free of nuclear weapons. I am pleased that it has been possible to take further practical steps in this direction in this White Paper. We have now reduced the maximum size of our arsenal by almost 50 per cent, compared with the plans of the previous government. The UK now has the smallest arsenal of the five recognised nuclear weapons powers. And the UK now accounts for only one per cent of the global stockpile of nuclear weapons.”

Cabinet has now made its decision and a White Paper has been published ready for a full debate and a vote in Parliament in the early part of next year.