LETTER : Britain faces Trident flak

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The Independent Online
THE British Government's policy of trying to achieve an indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while conceding as few restraints as possible to its own nuclear weapons posture now seems to be coming under critical scrutiny from its closest ally. If your report "US urges Britain to ditch Trident" (19 February) is correct, it places HMG in a tricky position because of its dependence on the Americans for the delivery of its D5 missiles.

Unfortunately for the Government, its planned procurement of D5s is far from complete: only 44 out of 65 have been purchased. The Americans may want to know why Britain wants so many missiles when it has said it will only deploy a maximum of 96 warheads on each of its three operational Trident boats, and when each D5 missile can carry up to 12 warheads?

Those at the NPT Extension Conference will ask why Britain is planning to deploy twice as many warheads on Trident as it thought were necessary to put on Polaris during the Cold War?

Some in the UK may question why the MoD wants to spend around half a billion pounds on these extra missiles when the defence budget is being squeezed.

Dr Stephen Pullinger

International Security Information Service

London WC2N