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The new generation of nuclear weapons:

Replacement for Trident

The UK’s Nuclear Weapons System is called Trident. This has three main components – nuclear powered submarines, nuclear missiles and nuclear warheads. The government says that the system is old and needs to be updated and that Britain must keep its nuclear capability. Some MPs along with campaign groups like CND, argue that nuclear weapons should never be used and that, in any case, they would not help to defend us against terrorist attack. They also argue that the money would be better spent on building hospitals and schools or even to update our conventional weapons capability.

The UK government estimates that the cost of updating the Trident system will be between 15 billion and 20 billion pounds.

Opinions –

Roll your mouse around to find the opinion of various people regarding the updating of Trident:

Text equivalent of above diagram

Government Minister (Des Browne – Defence Minister, 25th Jan 2007)

"I do not believe it makes sense to say that nuclear weapons are inherently evil. In certain circumstances, they can play a positive role - as they have in the past. But clearly they have a power to do great harm."  

"Are we prepared to tolerate a world in which countries which care about morality lay down their nuclear weapons, leaving others to threaten the rest of the world or hold it to ransom?"
“While right now there is no nuclear threat, we cannot be sure that one will not re-emerge at some point over the next 50 years.”

"There is no reason to believe that if instead of maintaining our deterrent we allowed it to lapse, or even dismantled it tomorrow, this would make it any more likely that other countries would abandon their nuclear weapons or their ambitions to develop them."

2. Peace Campaigner Kate Hudson – Chair of CND, 22nd June 2006)

“Even the prime minister has recognised that nuclear weapons are no use against the current security threats that we face. Our nuclear arsenal did not "deter" the attacks of 7/7. And it is widely recognised that we face no current nuclear superpower threats. Reid and others have argued that we need to replace Trident as an insurance policy against future threats. But this argument is deeply flawed. To embark on a new nuclear arms race - which is how replacing Trident would be seen abroad - would send the worst possible signal to countries that are already impatient with the nuclear weapons states for failing to comply with their obligation, under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to begin the process of disarmament. Inevitably this will lead some countries to believe they too need nuclear weapons as "deterrent" protection.”

MP in favour(David Mundell, Conservative, Nov 2006

“No one can accurately predict the threats the UK will face in 20 or 30 years time. I therefore belive it is a strategic imperative that we replace our nuclear dettrent when the time comes . They are still vital as a deterrent when the time comes. They are still vital as a deterrent, especially with the proliferation of both nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. I believe that the decision to replace Trident is of paramount importance and I welcome the fact that Parliament will be able to vote on this matter"

MP against(Ann McKechin, Labour Dec 2006

“From my own individual conscience I can not think of a circumstance where the use of such weapons would be justified.
There are very genuine concerns, I, like many of my other colleagues, believe in strong, conventional forces and we believe that is the best way we can achieve the best security and defence of our country."

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After reading these opinions do you think the government should update the Trident System?