Blair Moves to Update Nukes
Tony Blair intends to modernize Britain’s nuclear arsenal, including the U.S.-made missiles and nuclear-powered submarines that deliver them. But the prime minister will have to survive the misgivings of his own party, with critics questioning the utility of nuclear weapons against suicide bombers.
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“The risk of giving up something that has been one of the mainstays of our security … and moreover doing so when the one certain thing about our world today is its uncertainty, is not a risk I feel we can responsibly take,” Blair told Parliament, which will vote on the program in March.
“Proliferation remains a real problem,” he said. “The notion of unstable, usually deeply repressive and antidemocratic states … having a nuclear capability is a distinct and novel reason for Britain not to give up its capacity to deter.”
There have been calls in Britain to dismantle the four-boat nuclear weapons fleet. Spending billions on a new fleet could undermine negotiations with North Korea and Iran at a time when those nations are being asked to adhere to international nonproliferation obligations, critics say.
“How can this cost be justified in the post-Cold War environment, when it will severely restrict much more needed conventional military expenditures, undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and drain off colossal sums of money from real threats of terrorism, climate change, and long-term energy security?” Michael Meacher, a deputy from Blair’s Labor Party, said during [Monday’s] opening debate in the House of Commons.
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