4 Dec 2006 : Column 21 Trident
Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): Let me say straight away that I agree with the Prime Minister ....
つまり，4 Dec 2006の議事録のColumn 21からColumn 24までが同封されていました．
10 DOWNING STREET
LONDON SW1A 2AA
From the Direct Communications Unit 28 February 2007
Mr Kouichi Toyoshima
Dear Mr Toyoshima
I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to thank you for your recent letters and enclosed petition regarding Trident.
Mr Blair would like to reply personaliy, but as I hope you will appreciate, he receives many thousands of letters each week and this is not always possible.
As you may be aware, on 4 December 2006, the Government published a White Paper setting out plans to maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent. I enclose a copy of the statement that the Prime Minister made to the House of Commons that day explaining the Government's decision. Essentially, the Government's judgment was that, on balance. it could not be certain in the decades ahead that a major nuclear threat to the UK's strategic interests will not emerge; that there is also a new and potentially hazardous threat from states such as North Korea which claims already to have developed nuclear weapons or lran which is in breach of its non-proliferation duties; that there is a possible connection between some of those states and international terrorism; that it is noteworthy that no present nuclear power is or is even considering divesting itself of its nuclear capability unilaterally; and that in these circumstances, it would be unwise and dangerous for Britain. alone of any of the nuclear powers, to give up its independent nuclear deterrent.
Some have argued that this decision did not need to be taken now. But the fact is that the Vanguard submarines, which carry the Trident missiles, will start to near the end of their service life in the early 2020s. That will be after a five year extension. Given the time it takes to design and build new submarines, a decision needed to be taken now as whether or not to do so.
The costs of replacing the submarines will be refmed as detailed discussions with industry progress. The Government's current estimate is that the procurement costs of the new submarines and associated equipment and infrastructure will be in the region of ?15-20 billion (at 2006/07 prices) for a four submarine fleet, although the Government will be assessing whether it could maintain the deterrent with just three. The costs will fall principally in the period between 2012 and 2027.
The decision to replace the Trident system does not in anyway weaken the Government's commitment to the nuclear Non-Proliferatlon Treaty (NPT). which the Government regards as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime. This issue was covered in detail in the White Paper, and in the supporting fact sheets, which are available on the Minlstry of Defence (MOD) website (www.mod.uk). Maintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent is fully consistent with all the UK's international legal obligations. including those under the NPT. The UK is, in fact, the only nuclear weapons state recognised under the NPT to have a deterrent based on a single platform, delivery system and warhead design, and have already significantly reduced the scale and readiness of the Trident system.
In addition to this, the White Paper announced that the Government has decided to reduce the number of operationally available nuclear warheads to less than 160, a cut of 20 % compared to the previously declared maximum. This means that the UK will have reduced the upper limit on it operationally available nuclear warheads by nearly half since 1997.
I hope that this helps to explain the Government's position on this matter. As the Prime Minister made clear to the House of Commons, there will be a full Parliamentary debate and vote on this issue in the spring. This will allow plenty of time for all interested parties to make their views known.