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BASIC is seeking to foster informed debate over Britain’s nuclear weapon system, which is currently composed of a fleet of four Vanguard submarines carrying Trident missiles. As part of this effort, BASIC has set up the Trident Commission, an independent, cross-party panel to examine the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons policy and the issue of Trident renewal.
In 2006-07, the British Government, then led by the Labour Party, decided to move ahead with Trident replacement. The current government is set to proceed down this path, but not without tension. During the 2010 General Elections, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, had publicly argued against the Conservative position supporting like-for-like replacement, and did so again in August 2010. There has been clear conflict between the Treasury and MoD over where the money for replacement will come from.
The government has excluded the Trident system from the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) on the presumption that Trident should be fully replaced, but is allowing a value-for-money review of the 2007 decision, as well as a review of nuclear declaratory policy.
Moreover, the U.S.-UK relationship and America’s own decisions on nuclear weapons technology may also influence how replacement will take shape.
The Trident Commission will operate under the chairmanship of Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne), former Labour Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Conservative Defence and Foreign Secretary, and Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Click the picture above or view on YouTube - Paul Ingram, BASIC’s Executive Director, discusses decisions around the United Kingdom’s Trident nuclear weapon system.
Courtesy of TalkWorks Films 2010: A Virtual Open Forum on Nuclear Disarmament: