The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament warmly welcomed the suggestion that the Government is to delay the ‘Initial Gate’ decision on replacing the Trident nuclear weapons submarines, pending the outcome of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in May 2010. Previously, the Government planned to move on to the next stage of the replacement process during the Parliamentary recess in September.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said:
“This delay is excellent news. We hope the Government will not only make a major contribution to advancing plans for global disarmament at the forthcoming international talks, but also use this pause to reconsider Britain’s possession of nuclear weapons. Given the worsening economic climate, defence cuts will be necessary, but scrapping Trident would be positively beneficial to reducing global tensions.

“The current defence review and the Strategic Defence Review to be held after the next election are excellent opportunities to conclude that the challenges of the coming century cannot be met by costly Cold War weapons systems like Trident. We hope Ministers are brave enough to share the conclusion of the Generals who recently described Trident as ‘militarily useless’.

“We hope this is the first sign that the Government is really prepared to respond to the changed mood not just from leaders like President Obama, but also from the British public. Recent polls show a majority oppose the UK’s continued possession of nuclear weapons. This will be a vote winner for whichever party chooses to free itself – and Britain – from the dogma of the past. We are a world away from the tense world of the 1980s – the public recognises this, but now politics needs to catch up.”

Earlier today over 30 MPs wrote to the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary demanding exactly such a delay to the Initial Gate. They called for Parliament to have further discussions on Trident replacement before such a major spending commitment is given. CND believes that it is essential that such a debate takes place before the next stage of the project commences, whenever that occurs.

The Initial Gate decision, which would allow detailed design work to commence, is estimated to commit £2-3bn. The procurement costs for the new submarines are likely to be in the order of £25bn, with total costs of £76bn for the project when running costs are included.

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For further information and interviews please contact  Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.

Dear Gordon Brown and Bob Ainsworth,

We, the undersigned, are writing with regard to the Trident Replacement programme.

During the parliamentary debate on Trident in March 2007, the government made a commitment to providing regular reports on the progress of the programme. We believe it is vital that this commitment is honoured.

As you are aware, the Initial Gate is due in September 2009. You will also be aware that this falls during parliamentary recess. This raises serious concerns about the extent to which Parliament will be able to scrutinise the first decision point in the process.

The recent report by the National Audit Office, along with oral evidence taken from the Ministry of Defence at the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, raised significant questions about both the timetable and budget (with costs vulnerable to inflation and changes in exchange rate) for replacing Trident. At a time when the UK is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, such questions are particularly important.

As a result, Jeremy Corbyn MP has tabled EDM 660: Parliamentary Scrutiny of Trident Replacement to request that the decision is delayed until Parliament is in session. The EDM has already been signed by over 160 MPs.

We urge you to delay this decision and ensure that there is a full, transparent debate in Parliament about this extremely important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Charlotte Atkins MP                David Howarth MP                  Gordon Prentice MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP                 Glenda Jackson MP                Angus Robertson MP
Jim Dobbin MP                        Lynne Jones MP                     Clare Short MP
Paul Flynn MP                         Peter Kilfoyle MP                     Peter Soulsby MP
George Galloway MP             John Leech MP                       Bob Spink MP
Neil Gerrard MP                      David Lepper MP                    Michael Weir MP
Sandra Gidley MP                   John Mason MP                      Hywel Williams MP
Patrick Hall MP                        John McDonnell MP                Roger Williams MP
Fabian Hamilton MP                Doug Naysmith MP                 Jennifer Willott MP
Mike Hancock MP                   Nick Palmer MP
Paul Holmes MP                     Andrew Pelling MP