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Former top military officers say British nuclear deterrent useless

In their letter, the retired military officers said the advantages of being in the nuclear club -- all the permanent members of the UN Security Council have nuclear weapons -- "no longer has the resonance it once did."
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 16, 2009
Three retired senior military officers on Friday condemned Britain's plans to renew its independent nuclear deterrent, saying the Trident system was "completely useless" against modern threats.

"Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently, or are likely to, face -- particularly international terrorism," they wrote in The Times.

The idea of an independent deterrent was redundant, they said, as it was "unthinkable" that Britain would launch its nuclear weapons without the backing and support of the United States.

Lawmakers voted in March 2007 to renew the Trident submarine nuclear missile system, at a cost of about 20 billion pounds (now 30 billion dollars, 22 billion euros), arguing it was an integral part of Britain's national defence.

But a significant number of lawmakers in then prime minister Tony Blair's ruling Labour party opposed the move, arguing that renewing Trident breached the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and was too costly.

In their letter, the retired military officers said the advantages of being in the nuclear club -- all the permanent members of the UN Security Council have nuclear weapons -- "no longer has the resonance it once did."

"Political clout derives much more from economic strength," they said, adding: "Our independent deterrent has become virtually irrelevant except in the context of domestic politics."

The money would be better spent on equipment for Britain's armed forces, they said, noting: "In the present economic climate it may well prove impossible to afford both."

The signatories are Field Marshal Lord Bramall, a former head of the armed forces, and retired generals Lord David Ramsbotham and Sir Hugh Beach.

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Clinton vows to quickly renegotiate arms treaty with Russia
Washington (AFP) Jan 13, 2009
US secretary of state designate Hillary Clinton promised Tuesday during her Senate confirmation hearing to renegotiate quickly the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that expires December 31.







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