Friday, July 25, 2008
The UK is to replace its stockpile of nuclear warheads at an estimated cost of more than £3bn, according to documents seen by the Guardian.
Ministers have repeatedly denied there are any plans to replace the warheads as part of the upgrade of the Trident nuclear system, insisting no decision will be taken until the next parliament, probably sometime after 2010.
However, previously unpublished papers released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal one of the MoD’s senior officials told a private gathering of arms manufacturers that the decision had already been taken.
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“This afternoon we are going to outline our plan to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent,” David Gould, then the chief operating officer at the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, told a future deterrent industry day event. “The intention is to replace the entire Vanguard class submarine system. Including the warhead and missile.”
According to the government’s 2006 white paper, it would cost at least £3bn to replace the warheads, and opponents say the move would commit the UK to a nuclear weapons system for the next four decades.
Last night, peace campaigners said the new warheads would change the weapons’ capabilities and may allow more targeted strikes, potentially making their use more likely.
This article was posted: Friday, July 25, 2008 at 9:58 am