By Angela Haggerty
The SNP has described as “perverse” an announcement that will see one hundred billion pounds spent on a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system.
The UK government is facing growing criticism following the release of a report detailing plans to commit £79m towards the next phase of the replacement of the UK’s trident nuclear weapons programme.
The report from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) outlined details of the ‘Successor Submarine’ which is set to replace the Vanguard boats that currently carry trident missiles. The government is aiming to have the subs in service by 2028 and the MoD confirmed in the report that it had agreed to contracts with BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines worth £79 to carry out initial work on the vessels.
The plans have caused friction within the coalition government with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in opposition, while in Scotland – where the UK government stores the country’s fleet of nuclear submarines – the plans have been branded “obscene”.
Angus Robertson MP, SNP leader and Westminster and defence spokesperson, slammed the report, saying: “Philip Hammond has already spent half a billion pounds so far on plans to renew this obscene weapons system – but that will be a drop in the ocean compared with the total final cost of this Westminster obsession.
“The determination to spend £100bn on Trident nuclear weapons that are designed to flatten Russia is completely perverse. The defence needs of the 21st century do not include Cold War era bombs to be dumped on the Clyde for another 50 years.
“There is a very clear message from today’s report. Westminster will continue to spend an enormous amount of money on a weapons system that is immoral, outdated and grotesquely expensive at a time when Scots are dealing with cuts, cuts and more cuts from this austerity government at Westminster.”
More than £2bn is expected to be spent on the trident replacement programme before the next general election and despite the Lib Dems opposing the plans, Lib Dem Treasury Minister Danny Alexander has already signed off funding for the project so far. More than £400m has been spent in the last financial year alone.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond said that replacing the UK’s nuclear weapons would create jobs.
“The Successor programme is supporting around 2000 jobs and up to 850 British businesses could benefit from the supply chain as we exploit the most modern technologies, and employ a significant portion of the UK’s engineers, project managers and technicians over the coming years,” Mr Hammond said.
There are currently around 2,000 government and industrial staff in employment related to the trident replacement programme, with more than 1,000 of them based at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. Jobs created by the new contracts are also expected to be filled in Cumbria.
The Scottish Government has pledged to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons if the country votes for independence in next year’s referendum, leaving the UK government’s plans in an uncertain position.
The UK’s nuclear submarines are based at Faslane naval base on the Clyde and have for years caused controversy and concern north of the border.