UK plans to cut Trident fleet in nuclear overture

UK plans to cut Trident fleet in nuclear overture

Francis Elliott in New York and Michael Evans, Defence Editor

Gordon Brown is preparing to surrender one of Britain’s four Trident submarines to help to cut nuclear arsenals around the world.

The number and power of Britain’s 160 warheads could also be reduced.

The Prime Minister will insist that scaling back the Trident fleet when the current programme is replaced has nothing to do with the economy but is instead part of efforts led by President Obama to slash nuclear stockpiles and force countries such as Iran to abandon efforts to build atomic weapons.

It means that the future of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent is in doubt whoever wins the next election.

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Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, suggested recently that Britain scale back the Trident fleet from four vessels to three. This would raise questions about the effectiveness of the deterrent, given that one sub-marine is in base at all times.

Mr Brown will signal tomorrow that he is ready to negotiate at a meeting of the UN Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation. It follows President Obama’s decision to ditch the US missile defence shield in Eastern Europe. That move, and Russia’s delighted response, has bolstered hopes that a new non-proliferation treaty could be agreed next spring.

Mr Brown has come under pressure to scrap Trident from those who claim that Britain can no longer afford its replacement, which will cost between £15 billion and £20 billion. Instead, he has opted to trim the platform. In doing so he would blur a potential dividing line with the Conservatives.

Officials travelling with the Prime Minister to New York insisted that there was no question of surrendering Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. They claimed that current advice from military chiefs was that a continuous at-sea deterrent could still be maintained with just three boats. Mr Brown is to insist that his offer is not related to the search by all parties for spending cuts. Aides say that neither the cost of building nor the cost of maintaining a slimmed-down fleet would be reduced by a quarter.

His decision will disappoint Cabinet colleagues who had hoped that he might be willing to move to a cheaper air or land-based deterrent system.

The final decision on the size of Britain’s next nuclear fleet will be taken after a recommendation by the relevant Cabinet sub-committee, expected before the end of the year. The replacement for Trident is not due to come into service until 2025, but key design decisions are required over the next two to four years.

Although insignificant compared with US and Russian nuclear stockpiles, Mr Brown will argue that his offer would heap pressure on Iran to engage in a new treaty.

The prospect of a “grand bargain” that offers states access to nuclear material for civil power in return for proof that no military programmes exist will feature strongly at the UN tomorrow.

Industry sources told The Times that scrapping one of the four Trident nuclear submarines would not save a significant amount of money. “If you build three instead of four it doesn’t mean it will be cheaper, although overall there will be some savings,” one source said.

Key to the decision on cutting the fleet to three is the design of the new submarines. To prove that they will be as operationally effective as keeping four, the Ministry of Defence has had to show that the new boats could run for longer periods and have less need for refits and maintenance.

It is estimated that replacing Trident with four submarines and extending the life of the existing Trident D5 ballistic missiles with an upgraded warhead would cost between £15 billion and £20 billion: up to £14 billion for the boats, plus £2 billion to £3 billion for refurbishing the warheads and £2 billion to £3 billion for infrastructure over the life of the submarines.

The comparable cost for the first Trident system, with the four Vanguard Class boats, was £14.5 billion.

The offer to go for three submarines will have a knock-on effect on the number of missiles and warheads purchased. The 2006 White Paper included a pledge to cut the number of operationally available warheads by 20 per cent. This left a stock of nuclear warheads of fewer than 160.

BAE Systems is due to build the Vanguard replacement. It has more than 5,000 workers at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria devoted to sub-marine development and construction. It is currently building the Astute Class of nuclear-powered submarines.
Times article

What a moron, will China reduce it's arsenal?....will India? ect.....
Its costs gives us nothing (apart from that permanent seat on the Security Council), thus it must be cut. And it grabs headlines as being cut.

The Guardian readers will cream their jeans.

Good news all round, right? Right?
Jesus I'm not even Britiish and Gordon Brown annoys the shit out of me...that takes some skill on his part.
Where did he learn how to run a nation?.......Ikea?
Ah, you're all so quick to jump down his throat that you have missed the beatiful simplicity of this suggestion. We will only need three hulls to enable the Vanguard class replacement to maintain the same routine, so will be able to:
a) claim the moral high-ground by announcing a unilateral arms reduction,
b) save a bit of cash to spend on the important things in life, like myth-busters in Leicester.
without having an adverse effect on our deterrence capability.
They've got mythbusters in leicester now? They're spreading!!!!!!!!!

In all seriousness, its just posturing by Brown trying to show he's a statesman like Blair. Cutting the nuclear detterent as some kind of political grandstanding is not acceptable.

Absolute goon.
This is Broon's attempt to get back in to Mr Obama's good books after the Lockerbie bomber release fiasco & our Armed forces are yet again the escape goat for Broon's attempt to grab the headlines away from the Baroness Scotland affair also.


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The deluded fool will think this is win win for him

He can stand up and be remembered as the man who started the world Nuclear disarmarment program(yeah right) with his bold move

He can stand up at the Labour Party conferance knowing he's got some cash saved and dosn't have to cut anything that will upset the unions and lose the party money and support

Alternatively he can cary on seeing what the Tories and Lib Dems are sprouting and nick all their policies - worked for Bliar

Dosen't get it does he he's still fukced
I bet the single-eyed one will rush to try & implement this one before his downfall happens, & it'll be an all-out push unlike the majority of the projected "cuts" he could only just bring himself to mention the other day......
Especially as when he was a student he was a card-carrying member of CND, just like His Smiling Insincerity was too....... :evil: :evil:
Brush_Dust_Shake said:
Especially as when he was a student he was a card-carrying member of CND, just like His Smiling Insincerity was too....... :evil: :evil:
you can see how him and his ilk use world events/red herrings to get through stuff they always wanted to get through, but couldn't justify it before. Another example is the bank bonus issue - they had a problem("immoral") with these long before the credit crunch.
thats for later - come to think, that reminds me - this is similar to CND circa 1983 - give ours up and the rest of the world will follow suit, but different in that it's piecemeal instead of all at once
It's just Brown following his normal negotiation technique, like when he sold off our gold. He tells people what he's prepared to give away, then gets all hurt when they take it without offering anything in return.

I just hope he's going to unload it over the AFG/PAK border before he scaps it.
Won't cutting it to 3 boats just increase maintainence costs on the remainder as they have to put to sea for longer, have more crew burnout etc etc...
Normally you have one eye on the problem the other on the solution, WTF is he doing now.
Next he will say crime is down and we need less coppers, and silly talk like that

what a throbber
Can we maintain the deterrent with 3 boats?
We cannot un-invent nuclear weapons, therefor we must always have them
MAD works, its not nice but it is effective, the more tinot nations that aquire nuclear weapons the more we need Trident.
I can see the logic of only having 3 new build Trident boats if technology advances mean we can have the same service from 3 new ones as the existing 4 boats but I can't see any great savings from getting rid of one of the Vanguards. Surely taking one out of the four only increases the workload on the other 3?
The_Rattler said:
Normally you have one eye on the problem the other on the solution, WTF is he doing now.
Next he will say crime is down and we need less coppers, and silly talk like that

what a throbber
'Rattler', the frantic oaf has only got one eye, so what do you expect? :)

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