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Iran Press TV

Ex-army chiefs warn against scrapping Trident

Iran Press TV

Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:39PM

A group of former army chiefs and influential military figures have slammed any talk of scrapping Britain's nuclear deterrent, calling it "irresponsible folly."

A group of 20 former defence chiefs penned an open letter to The Times, saying that to abandon Britain's deterrent would be an "enormous gamble" which could threaten the "survival" of the country.

The issues of Trident and the renewal of Britain's nuclear deterrent are hotly contested between Britain's political parties. Labour and the Tories back the renewal of the country's four Trident submarines. The Liberal Democrats and UKIP are in favour of reducing it to three and the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens want to see them scrapped altogether. Indeed, the SNP have spent a lot of their time brandishing their anti-Trident credentials, amassing great support in the process particularly during the Scottish independence referendum.

Those who have signed the list are the cream of the crop of British security and intelligence. The list includes former defence secretaries, former GCHQ directors, ex-Navy chiefs and a former NATO chief. They all issue a stark warning, saying that the decision on renewal needs to be taken next year and there should be no question as to what the next Prime Minister does.

The letter to the Times is for the incoming Prime Minister and the message could not be clearer. It says to "abandon Trident now and for good in the hope that no threat will emerge would be to take an enormous gamble on behalf of generations not yet born. In an uncertain world where some powers are now displaying a worrying faith in nuclear weapons as an instrument of policy and influence, it would be irresponsible folly to abandon Britain's own independent deterrent.'

The government estimates that it will cost between 15 billion pounds and 20 billion pounds, but critics say that the figure is far more likely to surpass 34 billion pounds. Those opposed to the renewal of Trident say that the changing threats of global terrorism and climate change means that Britain doesn't need a hugely costly renewal of nuclear deterrents. In an age of austerity and huge cuts to public services, more and more people are questioning the need for such an expensive and dangerous deterrent that will not be used.

With just over a week until the general election it seems like the renewal is almost certain as Labour and the Tories are both committed to it. But it may take longer than many expect, as any post election coalition deals will be long, complicated and potentially messy.

LM/PHX



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