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British Lawmakers Will Vote On Whether To Renew Nuclear Deterrent

Britain's current nuclear deterrent was set up in the 1980s by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, when the Soviet Union -- not global terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda -- was seen as the primary threat.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jul 20, 2006
Members of the House of Commons, Britain's elected lower house of parliament, will be given a vote on whether Britain should renew its nuclear deterrent force, a cabinet minister said Thursday.

Prime Minister Tony Blair paved the way "two weeks ago when he did point out that we were the first government to give the house a vote over decisions to go to war," House leader Jack Straw said.

"Of course we should involve the house fully in a decision as important as the renewal of our nuclear deterrent," Straw said.

"And in practical terms it is inevitable that there will therefore be a chance for the house to express its view on this important matter in a vote," Straw added.

Straw did not say whether members of parliament from the governing Labour Party would be given a free vote on replacing the Trident nuclear missile system.

Britain's current nuclear deterrent was set up in the 1980s by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, when the Soviet Union -- not global terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda -- was seen as the primary threat.

It is based on four 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 anywhere from 10 billion to 25 billion pounds (14.6 billion to 36.4 billion euros, 18.6 billion to 46.1 billion dollars), observers say.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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