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Last Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005, 00:03 GMT 01:03 UK
Writers issue scrap Trident call
Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter has long campaigned against nuclear weapons
The 15bn cost of replacing Britain's nuclear deterrent, Trident, should be spent on defeating poverty "at home and abroad", the government has been told.

A group of writers, led by 2005 Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, say there is "no legitimate political, military or moral reason" for replacing Trident.

The authors also say, in a letter to the Guardian, that doing so would breach non-proliferation obligations.

A decision on whether the warheads will be replaced is due this Parliament.

Backbenchers debate

The letter, in Friday's edition of the newspaper, says the cost of replacing Trident "would be better spent on defeating poverty at home and abroad, and providing for employment, education and health".

In 2000, the UK was one of five countries to give "an unequivocal undertaking to work towards the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals", it says.

Trident nuclear submarine
John Reid has suggested Trident will be kept

But supporters of nuclear weapons say replacing an existing nuclear capability does not count as a contravention.

The letter, which is also signed by authors Joanne Harris and Marian Keyes, poet Adrian Mitchell and actress Lindsey Duncan, comes just a few days before the Parliamentary Labour Party is due to debate the issue of Trident's replacement.

It urges backbenchers to oppose replacement and to "press for policies that will lead to genuine peace and security".

Party split?

Labour MPs Paul Flynn, John Austin and Gordon Prentice are to table a question on the "wisdom of spending billions on Trident replacement" to Monday's meeting of the party's backbenchers.

Defence Secretary John Reid has already suggested that Trident will be replaced when it is decommissioned in 20 years, although no debate on the issue has yet taken place.

The issue is likely to split the Labour Party, which at one time supported the policy of unilateral disarmament.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament chairwoman Kate Hudson said the British public understood that the money would be better spent on key services and fighting poverty.




SEE ALSO:
Trident to get 1bn boost - Reid
19 Jul 05 |  UK Politics
'No decision yet' on new Trident
29 Jun 05 |  UK Politics
Fears over 'replace Trident plan'
03 May 05 |  Election 2005
Pinter wins Nobel literary prize
13 Oct 05 |  Entertainment


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