MPs back upgrade of UK nuclear arms

British members of parliament have voted in favour of plans to renew Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent, despite a division on the issue in the ranks of the Labour government.

MPs back upgrade of UK nuclear arms

British members of parliament have voted in favour of plansto renew Britain'sTrident nuclear deterrent, despite a division on the issue in the ranks of theLabour government.

 

 MPs voted 409-161 in favour of the plan on Wednesday tospend up to $40bn on new nuclear-armed submarines to replace ones that go outof service in 2024.

Tony Blair, Britain'sprime minister, argued that the UK'sTrident nuclear weapons system should be replaced.

 

 He told parliament: "There is absolutely no evidencethat if Britainnow renounced its independent nuclear deterrent that would improve theprospects of getting multilateral disarmament."

Labour MPs quit

 But many members of his own party disagreed, with fourLabour MPs quitting on Wednesday over the government'sproposals, weakening Labour's 67-seat majority in the 646-member lowerhouse of parliament.

Nigel Griffiths, one of the four Labour politicians to quittheir posts, said: "We must lead the world in campaigning for theeradication of the nuclear threat and we must lead by example."

 Around 85 members of Blair's Labour Party voted against theplan to buy a new nuclear weapons system, the biggest rebellion against theprime minister since a 2003 vote on whether to go to war in Iraq, according toone politician.

 With many of Blair's own party members voting against him,the motion was only passed after opposition Conservative MPs supported it.

 Tony Benn, a former British minister, speaking on AlJazeera's Inside Story programme, called Trident a "waste of money",saying it tied the UKto American foreign policy.

 'Waste of money'

 Benn said: "It's American technology. If Blair pressedthe button our Trident wouldn't go anywhere unless the US switched ontheir satellite navigation system. All this really means is that Britishforeign policy would be linked permanently to the US.

"It's a complete waste of money, it's no good againstsuicide bombers and we can't afford it."

The Labour Party had long-espoused a policy of unilateralnuclear disarmament, but the government now says it must act quicklyto have new submarines ready when the Vanguards reach the end of their lives in2024.

Backing Blair, Margaret Beckett, the British foreignsecretary, said no one could be sure a new nuclear threat would not emerge overthe next 50 years.

 "While such a risk exists this government believes thatmaintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent remains a premium worth paying on aninsurance policy for our nation," she said.

She said Britainwould reduce its stockpile of operationally available nuclear warheads by 20per cent in 2007 to fewer than 160.

Britain's nuclear arsenal, which consists of fourBritish-built Vanguard-class submarines carrying 16 US-supplied Tridentlong-range missiles armed with British-built nuclear warheads, is the smallestamong the five permanent members if the UN Security Council.

Source:Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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