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U.K. Has 1,000 Developing Trident Successor

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- More than 1,000 people are now employed in developing a successor to Britain’s submarine-based Trident nuclear deterrent, risking accusations from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats that the program is being pursued in the face of their opposition.

“There has been a steady increase in the number of people working on the program at BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness” in northwest England, the defense ministry said in a report published today. “The total has now passed 1,000 and will increase further as work progresses.”

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, has risked inflaming coalition tensions by saying an upgrade of Trident would be cheaper than alternatives being examined by the Liberal Democrats. The government announced in May 2011 it would spend 3 billion pounds ($4.9 billion ) on designing a replacement, at the same time as setting up a review of alternatives headed by the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.

The review, to be published either later this year or early in 2012, will help the Liberal Democrats decide on their position on a replacement for Trident in the run-up to the next general election in 2015.

Hammond pledged 353 million pounds for the development of submarines on Oct. 29. Clegg said some people were “jumping the gun” after U.K. media reported that the investment amounted to a government commitment to retaining Trident.

“We are committed to maintaining the continuous at-sea deterrent,” Hammond said Nov. 1. “Our Trident missiles and the warheads on them have many, many years of life left in them. The question is only around whether we replace the Vanguard Class submarines when they start to go out of service in 2028.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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