US coverage of the election is now touching on Trident. In yesterday’s Huffington Post (a ‘liberal’ news website often abbreviated to HuffPo), Azeem Ibrahim attacked the LibDems’ position on Trident as ‘outlandish and unrealistic’.
Ibrahim pours scorn on Clegg’s criticism of spending on Trident, describing it as ‘so out of touch with reality as to almost qualify as a gaffe’. The cost of Trident, Ibrahim argues, is ‘not a great deal’. Reading between the lines, I suspect he would want it no matter how much it cost, but the reality is he’s got his figures wrong.
Firstly, he says Trident currently costs £1.5 billion a year. Then he goes on to say that it would cost £21 billion to replace – or one billion a year over the next two decades. A mere snip, obviously. In fact, the figures show – based on Parliamentary Answers from Ministers, that annual spending on nuclear weapons has doubled between 2003 and 2010, and is likely to be around £3 billion a year by 2014. The MoD is spending a billion a year just on modernising the bomb factory at Aldermaston.
But the big hit is on the overall costs of the replacement. It is not just a question of building the subs – there are all the rising associated costs too, which mean that the figure of £76 billion used by CND over the past few years, is now a conservative estimate when compared to others – also based on government information, which rise to £100 billion or more.
So Azeem Ibrahim is sadly out of touch on the real facts and figures. I can understand a certain amount of confusion if he was any old person, but his by-line states that he is a Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s International Security Program. Where do they get their information from??