Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Conference to debate Trident ???
Liberal Democrat Conference Committee is considering the following motion on Trident which many of us have signed.
Nuclear Weapons and the Financial Crisis
Conference notes that:
i) Britain is currently in the worst financial crisis since the end of the Second
ii) Britain’s capacity for independent military action is limited increasingly by financial constraint. The Strategic Defence and Security Review Green Paper (February 2010) called for Britain to act more in concert with our partners rather than attempting to bear the cost of fully-independent Armed Services.
iii) neither our coalition partners nor Labour, while they were in government, have indicated any willingness to include Trident in the Strategic Defence Review.
iv) in the last two military conflicts in which Britain acted unilaterally - Sierra Leone and the Falkland Islands - nuclear arms were irrelevant.
Conference further notes that:
a) under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty all signatory states undertake to pursue negotiations, in good faith, on effective measures relating both to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament at an early date and to negotiate a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
b) the cost of the proposed Vanguard submarine replacement contracts and lifetime running costs are in the order of £100 billion
c) the cost of replacing the current nuclear warheads will be a further £8 billion
d) any major military actions in the future are certain to take place as part of an international coalition for which purpose British nuclear weapons would be irrelevant
e) In a speech in May 2010 Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, cast doubt on the future of the Ohio-class submarine and with it the Trident missile system
Conference welcomes this year’s agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons held by Russia and the US and notes the bilateral agreement reached by the two Presidents. Conference also notes, however, that the weapons which are to be removed are due to be retired from service anyway.
Conference therefore calls for:
1. Trident to be included in the Strategic and Security Defence Review
2. Confirmation of current policy to cancel any planned 'like-for-like replacement' of the Trident system
3. A freeze on any further procurement by Britain of all types of nuclear weapon
4. The retirement of the current Vanguard fleet at the earliest possible opportunity.
These steps will save in excess of £108 billion during the planned lifetime of the Trident submarine replacement systems and the early withdrawal of the Vanguard fleet will save a further £2 billion per annum up to the year 2025.
Conference recognises that, under the terms of the Coalition Agreement, this policy cannot be implemented fully at this time but full implementation will be pursued once the party is in a position to do this.