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Blair Accused Of Stifling Nuclear Debate On ICBM Replacements

Brittish Prime Minister Tony Blair.
by Staff Writers
Manchester (AFP) England, Sept 24, 2006
Britain's governing Labour Party were accused of stifling debate on the opening day of its annual conference after it vetoed calls to discuss the replacement of the country's nuclear deterrent. A number of grassroots Labour branches were told 17 motions they had submitted to discuss the ageing Trident system were inadmissible on technical grounds.

Senior government ministers, including Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, backed anti-nuclear campaigners' views that the conference was the last chance for open discussion.

Justice Minister Harriet Harman warned that all British taxpayers would want a say on how their money was spent when Labour leader and Prime Minister Tony Blair makes a decision on a new generation of nuclear weapons later this year.

The chairwoman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) described the decision as a "travesty of democracy" and accused Labour of contriving to avoid an open debate.

"They seem to be doing anything possible to avoid a debate which is shocking. They are trying to gag debate," she added.

Trident was set up in the 1980s by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher when the Soviet Union -- not global terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda -- was seen as the primary threat.

It is based on four British Royal Navy submarines fitted with US-built Trident missiles which are due to become obsolete in the 2020s. One of the submarines is always on patrol, but the missiles are no longer pre-targeted.

Replacing the deterrent is likely to cost between 10 to 25 billion pounds (15 to 37 billion euros, 19 to 47 billion dollars), observers say, although opponents claim the figure will be higher.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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North Korea Losing Ground Militarily Says US Pacific Commander
Washington (AFP) Sep 22, 2006
North Korea's comparative military strength has dwindled to the point that it could not sustain an invasion of South Korea for long, the commander of US forces in the Pacific said Friday. "I'm hard pressed to come up with a rational rationale for an invasion of the south," Admiral William Fallon said. "The trend lines are just going in completely opposite directions day by day."

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