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Trident programme is grossly expensive, belligerent, archaic and impotent

Instead of renewing the submarines we could fund A&E services for 40 years or build 1.5 million affordable homes

BY CHRISTOPHER HOOTON

Published 09/04/2015

An artists impression of the submarines due to replace the Vangard-class boats which carry Trident missiles.
An artists impression of the submarines due to replace the Vangard-class boats which carry Trident missiles.
Trident is the United Kingdom's independent nuclear deterrent
An unarmed Trident ballistic missile fired from HMS Vigilant during a test launch
Anti-nuclear campaigners protest against Trident nuclear missiles

Right now, a Vanguard-class submarine armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles is bumbling along the ocean floor somewhere off Scotland in case of serious international conflict, at which point it probably couldn't even be employed except illegally, contravening a 1996 International Court of Justice ruling.

It is a symbol of pride for the jingoistic. A powerful weapon in an Anglo-American tag-team d*ck-waving contest.  Consisting of submarines, missiles and warheads, the programme was even given a Vin Diesel meets Poseidon name, presumably selected from a shortlist that also included 'DEATH SUB' and 'STEP OFF, BRO'.

Any use of Trident would be potentially genocidal and could precipitate a wave of counter-strikes that could threaten the persistence of humanity.

It was designed as deterrent of course, but this is a strange notion too. It's reminiscent of a Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, in which the coyote points a needlessly-oversized rocket at the eyeballs of the bird - a scene comical to most 8-year-olds, though its absurdity is apparently lost on most UK politicians.

Trident is getting old and needs replacing, the cost of this renewal of peace of mind being somewhere between $20billion (MoD estimate) and £100 billion (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament estimate). If we focus on the latter, given that the former estimate was based on 2006 prices and curiously hasn't been updated, that is a sum that could fully fund A&E services for 40 years, build 1.5 million affordable homes and cancel tuition fees for four million students.

Despite this, the Conservatives plan to go ahead with the Astute-class nuclear-powered sub replacements, a plan Labour has rather cowardly supported ahead of the election.

Trident is an issue that is often pushed to the side-lines, but when you consider how it is holding back funding and development in areas voters really care about, it is high time we scrapped it and considered less megalomaniacal forms of defence.

Further reading

Trident debate: 16,000 nuclear missiles in the world - but who has them, and does UK really need its own arsenal?  

Online Editors

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