With Britain facing its biggest economic crisis since the Second World War and much debate on public spending levels and priorities, the country can ill-afford to be spending in excess of £76bn on replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Britain’s security needs are not met by nuclear weapons which can do nothing to combat the threats posed by terrorism or climate change. The more that countries such as Britain justify their retention and replacement of nuclear weapons on the grounds of an uncertain future, the more likely it is that non-nuclear states will seek to use the same rationale to justify developing their own weapons systems.
Instead of wasting tens of billions of pounds on new nuclear weapons there are many forms of socially useful spending to which the funds could be put; combating child poverty and youth unemployment, providing affordable homes, investing in education and mental and physical healthcare as well as addressing the climate crisis, to name a few. Whilst some are considering cuts to these areas, it is instead Trident that should be cut in their place.
We believe the Government should cancel the replacement of Trident. This would allow for the existing skilled manufacturing base to be re-orientated towards providing for the needs of a post-carbon future, with the potential for significant investment in green jobs.
The Government must be a leading participant in current global initiatives to significantly reduce holdings of nuclear weapons, with the aim of achieving a nuclear-free world. Cancelling the programme to replace Trident would have a transformative effect on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2010, greatly boosting the chances of agreeing a timetable for multilateral global disarmament.