Blair Urges Keeping Nuclear Arms Program Alive

Blair Urges Keeping Nuclear Arms Program Alive
December 5th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Blair Urges Keeping Nuclear Arms Program Alive

Blair Urges Keeping Nuclear Arms Program Alive
New York Times
December 5, 2006
By Alan Cowell
LONDON, Dec. 4 — Citing a potential nuclear threat from nations like North Korea and Iran, Prime Minister Tony Blair urged legislators on Monday to extend the life of Britain’s nuclear arms program with a new generation of submarines costing as much as $40 billion.
Mr. Blair made his proposal as he presented a white paper to Parliament on the subject of Britain’s nuclear capacity that is expected to be debated at some length before a vote next March.
Mr. Blair proposed a plan to replace four Vanguard nuclear-powered submarines, equipped with Trident D5 missiles manufactured in the United States, that he said were the nation’s only nuclear deterrent. The vessels will begin to go out of service in 2022, he said, and it will take 17 years to design and build replacements.
Nuclear weapons are a sensitive issue for the governing Labor Party since many of its supporters — including at one time Mr. Blair himself — have traditionally opposed nuclear weapons. Indeed, until the late 1980s, the party was formally committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Blair insisted Monday that Britain should not dispense with its nuclear capacity.
“The risk of giving up something that has been one of the mainstays of our security since the war, 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,” he said in Parliament. “Our independent nuclear deterrent is the ultimate insurance.”
Apart from other arguments, Mr. Blair said, “The new dimension is undoubtedly the desire by states, highly dubious in their intentions, like North Korea and Iran, to pursue nuclear weapons capability.”
But Mr. Blair’s supporters are calculating that they can muster sufficient parliamentary support from the opposition Conservatives to squash Labor opposition in next year’s vote. As a sop to Labor dissent, however, Mr. Blair said Britain would consider reducing its nuclear submarine force to three from four and might cut its “stockpile of operationally available warheads” by one-fifth, to “no more than 160.”
In addition to Britain, nations with nuclear weapons include the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, Russia, China and France — and India and Pakistan.
Western nations like the United States and Britain accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapons capacity, which it denies. North Korea conducted a nuclear test in October. Israel has not commented on claims that it has nuclear weapons capacity.
“The notion of unstable, usually deeply repressive and anti-democratic states, in some cases profoundly inimical to our way of life, having a nuclear capability is a distinct and novel reason for Britain not to give up its capacity to deter,” Mr. Blair said.
“It is not utterly fanciful either to imagine states sponsoring nuclear terrorism from their soil,” he said. “We know this global terrorism seeks chemical, biological and nuclear devices. It is not impossible to contemplate a rogue government help such an acquisition.”
Some opponents of nuclear weapons said that Britain should spend its money on the environment, not on weapons. But labor unions representing shipyard and engineering workers said thousands of skilled jobs would be secured by a new nuclear submarine program.

Similar Topics
Iran renounces nuclear arms
Nuclear Arms Race Redux
**USA decide to Proliferate the NUCLEAR technology**
U.S. Official Makes Case for Halting Iran's Nuclear Program
What If Iran Gets the Bomb? Good Analysis