The madness of spending £100bn on the Trident nuclear missile system while implementing savage cuts in public services must stop. Sign the Rethink Trident statement.
Trident is Britain’s nuclear weapon system. It consists of four nuclear-armed submarines, one of which is on operational patrol, under the seas, at all times. Each Trident submarine carries up to 48 nuclear warheads, each of which can be sent to a different target. Each warhead has an explosive power of up to 100 kilotons, the equivalent of 100,000 tons of conventional high explosive. This is 8 times the power of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing an estimated 140,000 people.
There are three parts to the system: the warheads – which are the explosive ‘bombs’, the missiles which carry them and the submarines which carry the missiles. The submarines are made in Britain at Barrow-in-Furness, refitted at Devonport, and stationed at Faslane, Scotland. The missiles are leased from the US. The warheads are made at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and are stored at Faslane.
Britain has been nuclear armed since 1952, buying into the US nuclear weapons system Polaris from 1962 to 1996 and Trident from 1994.
As Britain faces the deepest public spending cuts in living memory, the country can ill-afford to be spending in excess of £100bn on replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Britain's security needs are not met by nuclear weapons which can do nothing to combat the threats posed by terrorism, climate change or cyber warfare. If countries like Britain justify their retention and replacement of nuclear weapons on the grounds of an uncertain future, it increases the likelihood that non-nuclear states will seek to use the same rationale to justify developing their own weapons systems.
Instead of wasting over one hundred billion pounds on new nuclear weapons, there are many forms of socially useful spending to which the funds could be put: combating child poverty and youth unemployment; providing affordable homes; investing in education and the NHS, as well as putting serious resources into renewable energy, to name just a few. It is clear that it is Trident replacement which should be cut – not these vital areas.
We believe the Government should cancel the replacement of Trident. This would allow for the existing skilled manufacturing base to be re-orientated towards providing for the needs of a post-carbon future, with the potential for significant investment in green jobs.
The Government must be a leading participant in current global initiatives to significantly reduce holdings of nuclear weapons, with the aim of achieving a nuclear-free world.
Cancelling the programme to replace Trident would have a transformative effect on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty process, greatly boosting the chances of agreeing a timetable for multilateral global disarmament.
Our security does not exist in a vacuum: we must work for genuine global security which can only be achieved through the abolition of nuclear weapons. Cancelling plans to replace Trident would be a momentous step in this direction, for Britain and the world.
What could you spend £100 billion on?
£3 billion of our taxes are spent on Trident each year.
► By comparison, building a state-of-the-art hospital costs around £545 million.
► Providing free school dinners for children from families in receipt of Universal Credit would cost around £500 million per year.
Replacement will cost at least £100 billion.
► Money spent on Trident could scrap student tuition fees for the next 30 years – saving students from a debt of up to £27,000 each.
► Or pay for 150,000 new nurses and teachers every year for over 30 years, or quadruple Britain’s annual investment in renewable energy, or create 180,000 new jobs in housing construction.
Sign the Rethink Trident petition
The Rethink Trident campaign, initiated by CND, War on Want, CWU, Pax Christi and Scientists for Global Responsibility, is supported by Annie Lennox, Thom Yorke, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Owen Jones, Mark Thomas, Caroline Lucas MP, Vivienne Westwood, Glenda Jackson MP, and many more.