Monday, February 26, 2007
I suspect as far as cost are concerned our Nuclear Systems represent an Olympic marathon of a never-ending stream of Millennium Domes.
I copy below one of my questions to Nick Harvey. The thought behind it is that the UK ‘Nuclear weapons’ system is the ultimate in nationalised industries. Huge projects go forwards pushed on by local power groups within ‘the system’, budgets are set and exceeded without reference to realistic costs, and while discussions may take place on one part of the system, decisions are usually made elsewhere in the system that pre-empt realistic choice on the question allegedly being debated. Debate on real alternatives by those within the system is suppressed because everyone knows what the results are supposed to be.
Precisely because there is no need to take a renewal decision on the Vanguard subs now, we have the chance to force a debate on the whole financial and military cost of the UK having a nuclear posture.
It is a debate that should be welcomed by all working to abolish the UK Nuclear forces, whether of unilateralist or so-called multilateralist tendency.
My question to Nick Harvey on costs:
The cost of maintaining so-called Trident in not only the cost of renewing the Vanguard submarines and upgrading the missiles.
Other costs include maintaining and upgrading Faslane, and also maintaining and upgrading
warhead research and production facilities at Aldermaston and elsewhere.
There are also the opportunity costs of dedicating conventional defence resources to protecting ‘nuclear assets’. For example, providing a fleet of attack submarines with no other real role in any time of extreme warfare than protecting whatever Vanguard sub is at sea. Most of these ‘nuclear arms related’ costs are obscured from public view and decisions on them taken outside public debate.
Should we insist that as a minimum any decision to renew Vanguard-carried Trident missiles include an open statement of these overall costs and a justification of these against (for example) alternative patterns of defence procurement? Should we refuse to back Vanguard now, regardless of fiddling with warhead numberes, in order to force such a properly grounded debate?
In short, multilateralist or unilateralist, just vot NO now to force a real choice. Action not fence-sitting.