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Trident nuclear weapons system is a 'status symbol' for the British establishment, says Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish First Minister says conventional forces should take priority

Jon Stone
Wednesday 29 April 2015 11:33 BST
A Vanguard-class nuclear submarine used in the Trident weapons system
A Vanguard-class nuclear submarine used in the Trident weapons system (Getty)

The Trident nuclear weapons system is a “status symbol” and will not help keep the UK safe, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon this morning accused the UK establishment of having an “obsession” with the weapons and suggested the project was sapping resources from more useful military investments.

“What I believe we need are strong conventional forces and I believe conventional forces have been compromised because of the obsession with Trident, which I think is a status symbol rather than a device to genuinely protect the country,” she told BBC Breakfast this morning.

“Britain is an island nation, a maritime nation, and yet Britain’s forces don’t have a single maritime patrol aircraft. When Russian submarines were thought to be patrolling in our territorial waters a few months ago, Britain had to call in other countries to check that out.

“We need strong conventional forces, not new nuclear weapons.”

Ms Sturgeon noted that of 200 countries in the world, 190 do not have nuclear weapons.

The SNP leader was commenting on an intervention by former defence chiefs in this morning’s Times newspaper.

The figures have written a letter arguing it would be an “irresponsible” folly to downgrade or end the system.

“In an uncertain world where some powers are now displaying a worrying faith in nuclear weapons as an instrument of policy and influence, it would be, in our opinion, irresponsible folly to abandon Britain’s own independent deterrent,” they wrote.

The letter was signed by Lord Robertson, a former Labour defence secretary and head of Nato, and Lord Hutton, another former Labour defence secretary.

Labour, Ukip, and the Conservatives have both committed to renewing the project, which has never been used in battle.

The Liberal Democrats say they would “end continuous nuclear weapon patrols” by reducing the number of submarines in the system.

The Green Party, SNP, and Plaid Cymru all oppose renewing the project, which is estimated to cost £100bn over its lifetime.

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