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Former British Lib Dem Leader Wants Defense Review to Include Trident

The former leader of the Liberal Democrats party, Menzies Campbell, yesterday said the United Kingdom's submarine-based nuclear deterrent system should be considered in a wider study of the country's military operations, the Press Association reported (see GSN, Aug. 18).

A $30 billion plan to modernize the Trident nuclear deterrent by replacing each of its four Vanguard-class submarines was left out of the country's comprehensive defense review. However, assertions in recent weeks by Treasury chief George Osborne that program's cost must be borne by the Defense Ministry's central budget means the Trident renewal plan is essentially already under review, Campbell said.

Writing to Defense Secretary Liam Fox, Campbell called into question the United Kingdom's policy of always having at least one ballistic missile submarine on patrol as well as the decision to replace the entire nuclear deterrent during a period of severe government budget reductions.

"Is it not now time to reconsider the whole approach to Trident, to include it formally in the defense review and to ensure that this element of our defense receives the scrutiny which strategic, political and financial circumstances demand?" Campbell asked.

As the junior member of London's coalition government, the Liberal Democrats were promised by the ruling Conservatives they would be able to "make the case for alternatives" to the present Trident renewal plan.

That agreement is now "much more significant," following Osborne's demand that Fox's ministry pay for the replacement program, Campbell said. Nuclear arsenal-associated costs in the past have been paid for by other funding sources.

The British lawmaker pointed to alternative studies conducted on the Trident renewal plan: "At the heart of these analyses lies modification of the principle of continuous at-sea deterrence -- i.e. 24-hour-a-day patrols -- which if implemented could extend the life of the existing Trident fleet by several years."

The country does not currently face a nuclear weapons threat that warrants constant submarine patrols, he said (Craig Woodhouse, Press Association/Aberdeen Press and Journal, Aug. 20).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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