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Trident Nuclear System May Be Scaled Back, U.K. Government Says

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is considering scaling back its Trident nuclear weapons system, abandoning the Cold War policy of always having a missile-armed submarine at sea.

The proposal is opposed by Defense Secretary Liam Fox, who told lawmakers in Parliament today that the deterrent should remain in place.

Cuts in the Trident system, including the policy of “continuous at-sea deterrence,” are under consideration as the government tries to reduce the country’s record deficit, Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field said.

“It is something we are looking at,” Field told reporters in London today. “It is something we are looking at as part of the Strategic Defense and Security Review.”

Fox has already clashed with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne over which part of the government should pay for Trident’s replacement. Fox doesn’t want the 20 billion pounds ($31 billion) needed to build submarines for carrying Trident missiles to come out of his department’s “core” budget. Total U.K. defense spending is about 40 billion pounds a year.

The Defense Ministry will publish its first strategic review since 1998 once Osborne details cuts to departments’ budgets on Oct. 20.

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