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Exclusive: UK nuclear deterrent to cost 167 billion pounds, far more than expected via Today

LONDON – The overall cost of replacing and maintaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent will reach 167 billion pounds ($256 billion), much more than expected, according to a lawmaker’s and Reuters’ calculations based on official figures.

If the figure is confirmed, it is likely to spur critics who say Britain should not be committing to spending billions of pounds on defense at a time when they say deep cuts under the government’s “austerity” policies are hurting families.

Some military officials also say the money would be better spent on maintaining the army and on more conventional technology, which have also faced cuts.

Until now, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has said replacing the ageing fleet of four submarines which carry nuclear warheads to provide a continuous at-sea deterrent would cost an estimated 15-20 billion pounds.

[…]

Using the same figures, a Reuters calculation came to the same sum of 167 billion pounds.

Asked about the rising cost, a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defense said the government had published an unclassified version of a review on alternatives to Trident which “demonstrated that no alternative system is as capable, or as cost-effective, as a Trident-based deterrent”.

“At around 6 percent of the annual defense budget, the in-service costs of the UK’s national deterrent … are affordable and represent an investment in a capability which plays an important role in ensuring the UK’s national security,” the spokesperson said.

[…]

Its popularity has surged since Scots rejected independence in a vote last year, with millions of supporters won over by its anti-austerity message. It won 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland in May’s parliamentary election.

“The renewal of Trident is unjustified. It is unaffordable. It is immoral,” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told her party’s conference this month. “Be in no doubt. The SNP will stand against Trident – today, tomorrow and always.” REUTERS

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