Former Labour defence secretary Des Browne questions whether Trident is an effective deterrent

Lord Browne says the system needs to be secured against cyberattack

Jon Stone
Tuesday 24 November 2015 12:42 GMT
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A Trident nuclear submarine
A Trident nuclear submarine (Getty)

The Trident nuclear weapons system could be vulnerable to cyber attack, a former Labour defence secretary has warned.

Lord (Des) Browne told the BBC there was currently “no guarantee” that the submarine-based nuclear missiles were actually an effective deterrent.

He told the Guardian newspaper that the Government needed to ensure that potential “weak spots” in the system were protected against “a high-tier cyber threat”.

“If they are unable to [secure the weapons from cyber attack] then there is no guarantee that we will have a reliable deterrent or the Prime Minister will be able to use this system when he needs to reach for it, he added.

Lord Browne was a Labour MP from 1997 until 2010. He served as Secretary of State for Defence between 2006 and 2008.

The former minister’s comments come after a decision by Labour’s frontbench to abstain on a symbolic House of Commons motion by the SNP on scrapping Trident.

The party’s leadership says the debate, called by the nationalists, is a political stunt.

It is likely to highlight divisions within Labour on the issue, with MPs from the party’s right reportedly preparing to defy their leader and vote to keep the nuclear weapons.

Des Browne
Des Browne (Reuters)

David Cameron has confirmed that Parliament will vote on renewal of the weapon.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review revealed that the estimated official price tag of the weapon has risen from £25bn to £31bn – with a £10bn contingency fund available.

Other estimates by the Reuters news agency based on official figures have been as high as £167bn taking into account the lifetime cost of the system.

The system is opposed by Jeremy Corbyn, but it is still official Labour policy to renew it when its lifespan runs out. Scottish Labour has however voted to oppose the weapon's renewal.

The Government says the weapon is an effective deterrent against attack.

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