United Kingdom's Liberal Dems Seek to Disarm Nuclear Submarines

The British ballistic missile submarine HMS Vanguard. The United Kingdom's Liberal Democrats will vote next month on whether the junior governing party should seek the removal of nuclear arms from patrolling Vanguard-class vessels (Royal Navy photo).
The British ballistic missile submarine HMS Vanguard. The United Kingdom's Liberal Democrats will vote next month on whether the junior governing party should seek the removal of nuclear arms from patrolling Vanguard-class vessels (Royal Navy photo).

The United Kingdom's Liberal Democrats will hold a party vote next month on a plan that would move to disarm nuclear-missile submarines on patrol, Press Association's Mediapoint reported.

The planned vote at a Glasgow conference would come on the heels of a recent review of alternatives to the U.K. Trident nuclear weapons program. The government assessment found it feasible to put in place an alternative to today's policy, which calls for having at least one nuclear missile-equipped submarine on patrol constantly, but such an option would be unlikely to save money or offer the same level of defense.

The Liberal Democrat plan would send vessels to sea with unarmed missiles, while a smaller warhead cache would remain stored for potential redeployment. The party also proposes to maintain something less than around-the-clock vessel deployments.

Party leaders are skeptical that constant patrols are necessary and are "wholly unconvinced that Britain needs to renew its submarine-based nuclear weapons system on the same Cold War scale as the system designed in 1980, nor do we believe that the nation can afford to do so," according to the party motion up for vote next month.

The proposed plan would reduce the manufacture of new submarines; reports are that the party could move specifically to cut the current fleet of four vessels down to two.

The Liberal Democrats regard the plan, if adopted, as a significant act of de-escalation by a world nuclear power, the wire service reported. 

Aug. 6, 2013
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The United Kingdom's Liberal Democrats will hold a party vote next month on a plan that would move to disarm nuclear-missile submarines on patrol, Press Association's Mediapoint reported.