Brown to cut Trident subs

By Liz Stephens

The prime minister will announce to the UN security council tomorrow that Britain will cut the number of planned Trident nuclear submarines from four to three.

In a speech, Gordon Brown will say “If we are serious about the ambition of a nuclear-free world we will need statesmanship, not brinkmanship.”

He will warn that “the world is at a point of no return” on the issue.

Reducing the number of Trident submarines could cut billions of pounds from the defence budget, however the MoD have stressed this is not the main reason for the move.

However Downing Street have ruled out the complete abolition of the Trident programme, saying keeping the nuclear deterrent was “non-negotiable”.

This was backed up by foreign secretary David Miliband, who said: “We reject unilateral nuclear disarmament for ourselves precisely because the world cannot end up in a situation where responsible powers get rid of their weapons, but the danger of nuclear proliferation by other powers remains.”

Speaking on Newsnight yesterday, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: “I really do welcome that finally the dam has burst on this. I have been saying for months it is just unrealistic for us to believe that we can foot the £100 billion like-for-like replacement cost for Trident over the next 25 years.”

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) have cautiously welcomed the development.

Kate Hudson, CND chair said the proposals were “a serious and positive first step towards the scrapping of both the current Trident nuclear weapons system and its replacement”.

The move will be conditional on disarmament by other nuclear states – it comes after the announcement by US president Barack Obama that the US will not be building a nuclear weapons shield in Poland and will be looking to reduce its own stockpile of warheads.