The United Kingdom has approved the preliminary investment in its next generation of Trident nuclear submarines and selected a design for the submarines, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the House of Commons last month.
This "initial gate" investment represents the first of two decisions that must be made for the replacement to go forward. The second ("main gate") decision to begin constructing the submarines is scheduled for 2016, as the British government outlined in its strategic defense review last October. (See ACT, November 2010.)
In a May 18 speech, Fox said the new fleet of submarines "will be powered by a new generation of nuclear propulsion system," which "will allow our submarines to deliver our nuclear deterrent capability well into the 2060s if required." The government also agreed on the outline of the submarine's design and the amount of material and parts that will need to be purchased prior to the main gate decision, he added.
Fox explained the United Kingdom's continued need for a nuclear capability by saying that "we cannot dismiss the possibility that a major direct nuclear threat to the U.K. might re-emerge." In remarks to the House of Commons that same day, British Prime Minister David Cameron called London's nuclear weapons "the ultimate insurance policy against blackmail or …