Comment by Alec Gaines 31/5/11

Why is the Minister for Defence out of step?

” The cost of a new fleet of Trident nuclear missile submarines could more than double to £25bn by the time they are built , the defence secretary, Liam Fox, told MPs. The figure was released as the Ministry of Defence  announced £3bn in new funding for the design costs for a new  Trident system. The figure does not include the price of warheads, the running costs, and the bill for leasing Trident missiles from the US.”

The Guardian Weekly, 27/05/11

Dr. Liam Fox believes Trident must be updated lest, in 50 years time a state threatens the UK with nuclear weapons.

   One of our members reminded me last week that our Government has set up a National Security Council embracing a range of Ministers and departments. The Strategic Defence and Security Review the Government published last October is much more revolutionary than anything the Government has published on the economy, education or the NHS. The Review recognises today’s world, a world in which the UK faces no hostile states, in which, as the composition of the National Security Council implies, the  security of the UK depends increasingly on diplomacy, negotiation and collaboration rather than on military action.

Why is Dr. Liam Fox out of step? What does he envisage the UK doing in the coming 20 or 40 years that a state will come to hate us so much that it will threaten us with nuclear weapons? Let us be clear about this; much of our world already consists of nuclear-free zones; China has stated she will never be the first to use nuclear weapons; we and NATO have declared that we will never use nuclear weapons contrary to International Law (I attach once more a letter we received from the MOD six months ago that includes this statement). I repeat, what does Dr. Fox
imagine us doing that will cause so much hate as to provoke a state to wish to nuke us? How lonely and frightened Dr. Fox must feel inside.

I am looking forward to the world in 50 years time when compliance with International Law is taken for granted – that’s what we are working for and what the Government’s mission of working for a safer world in which no country feels the need for nuclear weapons” means.

“I’ve learned that we have the power and capacity to make this world a better place; that walls of suspicion and fear can be replaced by bridges of kindness, care and understanding. All we – and especially those who govern – need to find is the will to change things; the will to banish the neglect of the poor, the abused  and the defenceless in our Western Society; to rethink the lousy political decision-making that leads to the destruction and cruelty and extreme poverty that I’ve personally witnessed in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Sudan.”
Anne Watts, Nurse, from the Author’s Notes to “Always the Children”.

a.f.gaines@strath.ac.uk
(Edinburgh UNA, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Working Group)

PS: The Trident-bearing subs are not the only ones powered by nuclear reactors. We have ‘hunter-killer’ submarines carrying conventional missiles that are also powered by nuclear reactors. I understand that since ‘Japan’ there has been apprehension that these nuclear reactors need updating. I have yet to learn what we do about the nuclear waste from the reactors. Is it discharged continuously at sea? Do we dump it on land when the subs dock for maintenance? Do you know?