Cameron Believes in Continuous At-Sea Deterrent, Spokesman Says
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is committed to the like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear-weapons system, his spokesman said after a review of alternatives was published today.
“The PM believes in continuous at-sea deterrence,” Jean-Christophe Gray told reporters in London today. “He has seen no evidence that there are credible alternatives.”
The review was carried out by government officials at the request of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the coalition government, after a disagreement with Cameron’s Conservative Party over the replacement of Britain’s nuclear weapons. It concluded that other options would be too expensive and would not offer the level of deterrence that the U.K. requires.
“The costs of delivering an alternative system could theoretically have been cheaper than procuring a like-for-like renewal of Trident were it not for timing and the fact that the U.K. deterrent infrastructure is finely tuned to support a submarine-based Trident system,” according to the review.
“In particular, the time it would take to develop a new warhead (itself a costly and high risk exercise) is judged to be longer than the current Vanguard-class submarines can safely be Trident Alternatives Review 11 operated,” it said.
“Bridging the resulting gap in deterrence capability would involve procuring two Successor SSBNs so that a Trident-based deterrent remains available until at least 2040,” it said. “Doing that at the same time as investing in the development of a new warhead, new missile, new platform and new infrastructure means that transitioning to any of the realistic alternative systems is now more expensive than a 3 or 4-boat successor SSBN fleet.”
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