Politics: Defence Review comes under fire

ALMOST 40 MPs have written to the Defence Secretary, George Robertson, to protest that he has strengthened Britain's commitment to nuclear weapons. The Strategic Defence Review has stuck to "Cold War rhetoric" despite a cut in the number of British nuclear warheads from 300 to 200, the group has claimed.

The MPs, all members of the Parliamentary Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, were also joined in their protest by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. Despite the cut, the review also contained a little-publicised commitment not to cut Britain's nuclear capability again until the nuclear weapons of Russia and America are numbered in hundreds rather than thousands, the letter said. The review also formalised a decision to maintain a capability to produce a successor to Trident.

A Ministry of Defence source said the commitment to cut nuclear warheads represented a 70 per cent reduction since the end of the Cold War. It had been welcomed by the Japanese government and by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

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