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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Hutton defends decision for £20bn Trident project

FURNESS MP and Defence Secretary John Hutton has defended the government’s decision to set the £20bn Trident replacement programme in motion.

By Jon Simpson

The project would see Barrow build up to four big submarines to replace the four Vanguard ones now in service.

That would guarantee work for the town’s shipyard up to around the year 2030.

But a group of former defence chiefs and generals led by former head of the armed forces, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, has claimed that Trident is an irrelevant hangover weapon from the Cold War.

They said the money should be spent on conventional arms and equipment needed for emergencies like Iraq and Afghanistan instead.

But now Mr Hutton has hit back, saying: “The nuclear deterrent will not be funded at the expense of the conventional capabilities required by our armed forces.

“I will not choose between protecting Britain against nuclear threats, or terrorism, or global warming.

“We must protect the country from all threats.

“It is the duty of the government to protect the country in an uncertain world.

“Our nuclear deterrent has helped to ensure our security and that of our allies for 50 years.

“But we should not let our guard down against a future nuclear threat in such an uncertain world.”

Mr Hutton said the UK would only consider using nuclear weapons in self-defence, including the defence of its Nato allies, and even then it would use them in extreme circumstances.

“We remain fully committed to the goal of a safer world in which there is no place for any nuclear weapons and continue to work hard internationally to achieve that goal,” said Mr Hutton.

“However, the government believes it should take the decisions necessary to ensure our national security and, in the current security environment, that includes retention of a minimum nuclear deterrent.”

Any decision to scrap the Trident replacement system, called the Successor Project in Barrow, would hit the shipyard hard and put the long-term viability of thousands of jobs in doubt.

Concept designs are already being worked on at the yard.

Work on building the new subs would start some time in the next decade.

The existing ones need replacing in the 2020s.

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