The shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry has posed a series of questions over the replacement of Trident submarines, calling on the Government to come forward with its case for the Successor programme which is due to replace the current Vanguard class of nuclear submarines.
Whilst making a speech at the Royal United Services Institute she asked if Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, had “made a convincing case” for the Successor programme and specific queries were:
- What is the current operational requirement?
- What uses will it have, and what challenges might it face, in the future operational environment?
- What is the total cost of bringing it into operation?
- Are there more cost-effective alternatives? and
- do the benefits outweigh the costs?
Successor is the British programme to replace the four Vanguard submarines which have provided a continuous at-sea deterrent since 1992. The four planned new submarines will be built in Britain and the Government said they will be introduced from the 2030s onwards with a lifespan of at least 30 years.
Emily Thornberry also sought to raise the pressure on ministers over their commitment to ultimately ensuring a world free of nuclear weapons.
She points out that, as an original signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 “to pursue negotiations in good faith…on a treaty on general and complete disarmament”, the UK has a particular obligation to respect the treaty and ensure that others do the same. Margaret Beckett said: “For any generation that would be a noble calling. For ours, it is a duty.”
That duty has been neglected and the majority of the world’s countries are frustrated with the inertia on nuclear disarmament from countries like Britain. On April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed applications in the International Court of Justice to hold the nine nuclear-armed states – the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel – accountable for violations of international law with respect to their nuclear disarmament obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law.