There are three parts to the system: the warheads - which are the explosive 'bombs', the missiles which carry them and the submarines which carry the missiles. The submarines are made in Britain at Barrow-in-Furness, refitted at Devonport, and maintained at Faslane, Scotland. The missiles are leased from the US. The warheads are made at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and are stored at Faslane.
Britain has been nuclear armed since 1952, buying into the US nuclear weapons system Polaris from 1968 to 1996 and Trident from 1994.
By continuing to possess nuclear weapons, Britain is failing to comply with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which it signed in 1968. Under the NPT Britain has committed itself to disarm, with Article VI stating that signatories will pursue:
"negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament."
CND attends the annual conferences of the NPT, along with other anti-nuclear organisations, to put forward its arguments to the international community.
It also has an online 'Scrap Trident' petition at http://www.iparl.com/petition-cnd
The current Trident submarines will begin to reach the end of their service life in 2024. In December 2006, the British government argued in a White Paper, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent , that a replacement should be agreed immediately. CND believes that if the government goes ahead and replaces Trident, it ties us to a security policy based on weapons of mass destruction and the possibility of killing millions of people. It will contribute to global tension and increases the risk of a new nuclear arms race. We oppose this position, and our arguments are set out in an Alternative White Paper.
The parliamentary vote
Massive rebellion against Trident Replacement - a first step towards nuclear abolition
On 14th March 2007, the government suffered its biggest rebellion on domestic policy since Labour came to power in 1997. Only the Iraq war rebellion has been greater. 161 MPs voted against the government's motion calling for a replacement to go ahead, and 167 voted for an amendment stating that the case for Trident replacement has not been proven.
CND Chair Kate Hudson said:
"This scale of opposition is extremely significant. Taken together with majority public opinion against Trident replacement, it shows that there has been a sea change in British attitudes. This is a key step on the road towards the abolition of nuclear weapons, in Britain and worldwide."
Public opinion - widespread opposition
72% of the British public, in a poll taken before the vote, did not support the government's plans to replace Trident at that time.
This wide-scale public opposition to the UK having a new nuclear weapons system is reflected in large sections of society calling for nuclear disarmament, including students, trade unions (in 2006 the TUC Congress voted overwhelmingly to oppose Trident replacement), church leaders and faith communities.
The jobs issue
The enormous cost of replacing Trident represents a very poor rate of return in terms of generating jobs. A report by CND and another by Scottish CND and the Scottish TUC explode the myth perpetuated by the industry that a decision not to replace Trident will have a detrimental impact on employment.
The next steps
At the time of the parliamentary vote in March 2007, the government stated that the decision to replace the system was 'not irreversible'.
The second part of the government’s motion in March called for progress on our nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments. This is good news but it is important we take care not to endorse erroneous government claims to have made progress already.
CND is working with supporters and allies to reverse the decision to replace Trident and to hold the government to its commitments to advance multilateral disarmament. An essential part of this is urging support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention to ban nuclear weapons worldwide, such as the draft already lodged at the UN, and like those already banning chemical and biological weapons.
In July 2007, Defence Secretary Des Browne, stated that a report on the progress of the new submarines would be made after the 'Initial Gate' point of the project (end of the 'concept phase') in 2009. We are working to ensure that there will be a proper public and parliamentary debate and vote, at this 'Initial Gate' stage of the process.
Latest Trident news from Google:
CND's Alternative White Paper on Trident Replacement (158 Kb - Format pdf)CNDA decision not to replace Trident will will strengthen the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime by ensuring Britain’s compliance with its international treaty obligations; it will deter nuclear proliferation and de-escalate current tensions leading towards a new nuclear arms race; and it will release significant financial resources to meet a range ofpublic spending priorities.
The Cost of Replacing Britain's Nuclear Weapons (611 Kb - Format pdf)CNDAlthough the Defence White Paper estimates the cost as £15-20 billion, CND believes that a figure of up to £25 billion is more realistic, taking into account inflation and increased costs of military equipment as suggested by a leading Defence Economist.
Trident and Employment (312 Kb - Format pdf)CND & UnisonA decision not to replace Trident need not be detrimental to the workforce. Investment in the nuclear weapons sector is substantial – up to £76 billion for the acquisition and running costs of a replacement. Consider what could be done if that money was spent elsewhere: if invested in the health service or housing, education or alternative energy forms, those billions could provide both significant employment in construction, engineering, nursing, teaching, scientific research and a range of other employment sectors and, at the same time, contribute substantially to the social wellbeing of the British people.
No Trident Replacement (148 Kb - Format pdf)CNDNow is the moment to take an initiative that can help shape a safer world, to move away from nuclear weapons and choose security systems more appropriate to the present day. We detail how such a step would bring us into line with our obligations, under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — unfulfilled for over 30 years — to disarm our nuclear weapons.