This week, the first of £3bn of contracts was awarded – £350m to start the design of new nuclear submarines to replace the current ones when Trident is taken out of service in 2028. The full cost of building the submarines is expected to be £25bn, with an additional £4bn-£6bn for the nuclear warheads and infrastructure costs. (PDF, page 9)
There would then be an annual expenditure of at least the £2bn per year that Trident costs us now.
Aside from the cost, there are other reasons to get rid of Trident nuclear missiles:
They make us less secure and safe
Senior British military figures have declared that nuclear weapons are completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism.
• There is no threat to our security from any other nuclear weapon state according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Instead it identifies the main threats to our security as coming from terrorism, cyber-attacks and major accidents (all of which nuclear weapons can never be useful against).
• Yet by having nuclear weapons the UK continues to encourage others to develop them too. If we say we need nuclear weapons for our security then any other country in the world can say the same, particularly those that are more vulnerable or threatened.
The UK agreed to begin disarming in 1970
• The UK signed a legally binding international treaty many decades ago (the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which entered into force over 40 years ago) agreeing us to negotiate in good faith the goal of general and complete nuclear weapons disarmament.
It is illegal to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons
• The International Court of Justice in 1996 judged it generally illegal to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.
So what does that money represent? Well £350m is similar to the amount that is being cut from the annual budget at Birmingham City Council. This cut has come at the cost of over 6,000 jobs, pay cuts and changes to conditions and the closure or cutback of council services.
The £2bn annual cost of trident is the same as is being cut from the Ministry of Justice, where 15,000 public sector workers are expected to be made redundant, and many courts and court services will close.
CND have an excellent interactive site to help show what is being cut in order to keep trident.
Clearly there would be some jobs lost both in the military and in the areas that the arms companies that will build the submarines exist, and money saved from scrapping trident should rightly be spent in these places, to ensure that any communities dependent on these businesses do not suffer disproportionately. Programmes around house building or creating climate jobs and businesses would be suitable replacements.
Between now and 2016, the government will spend £3bn, before even deciding that they will definitely replace Trident. At a cost of around £800m each year, that decision should be made now – scrap Trident replacement, invest the money in our economy and communities.