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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 21:54 GMT
Reaction to UK nuclear plans
Prime Minister Tony Blair has told Parliament that Britain's nuclear weapons system needs to be maintained. Anti-nuclear groups, unions, manufacturers and others have given their reaction to his statement.

CAMPAIGN FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Chairwoman Kate Hudson said: "He talked vaguely about reducing the number of submarines and warheads but it is not clear what that would mean.

"I am sure many Labour MPs will be extremely angry because it is clear the prime minister has set out a pre-determined timetable."

DEFENCE SECRETARY DES BROWNE

"We believe, on balance, that the judgement goes in favour of continuing [the] deterrent because of the uncertainty of the world that we will be living in, that our children will be living in, and that our children's children will be living in. We're absolutely certain that we will be able to carry that debate in the House."

FOREIGN SECRETARY MARGARET BECKETT

"I have expressed no reservations. I have concerns, and I think anybody sensible does.

"[Labour MP] Joan Ruddock, among others, has made the point that this is a very different world, and a different security situation, and quite some time ago I thought it through very carefully and with deep reluctance came to the conclusion that probably it is an even more unsafe world than it was and not therefore a world in which it's sensible for us now to make a decision to abandon our nuclear deterrent."

TORY LEADER DAVID CAMERON

"It is a vital matter for our national security but it requires a long-term approach. I hope we can work together on this issue for the good of the country.

"Those who argue that the world has changed so that an independent deterrent is no longer required, have missed the point. It may be rogue states. It may be major powers, but we should have a credible deterrent to both."

SHADOW DEFENCE SPOKESMAN JULIAN LEWIS

"It's a bit like saying why do you need an army, a navy, or an air force in periods of peace, and the answer is that periods of peace can become periods of war, and the same thing with this.

"We can't scale down the deterrent very much, it's a minimum deterrent and it would be absolutely crazy to abandon it when other countries show no sign of following suit."

LIB DEM LEADER SIR MENZIES CAMPBELL

"The decision to replace Trident is a significant decision with enormous financial, political and security implications.

"The prime minister says this is a matter of judgment. It is my judgment that we can only give proper consideration to all these factors by postponing the decision until 2014."

FORMER HOME SECRETARY DAVID BLUNKETT

"My major concern this afternoon, and I want time myself to reflect on it, is I think March [when MPs are to vote following public debate] is too soon.

"There's an argument about whether the replacement is too soon, whether we should be actually putting it off for another 10 or 15 years but actually I think March is unnecessarily soon.

"And I do say to the prime minister: 'You are going to be remembered for lots of things, you are going to be remembered for extraordinarily changing the future of this country and the culture that the Tories are now having to adapt (to). You don't have to be remembered for replacing Trident."

RAIL MARITIME AND TRANSPORT UNION

General secretary Bob Crow said: "We need to spend money on saving the planet, not on weapons that can help destroy it. The 25 billion the government wants to spend on replacing Trident - and it could be three times that - could go a long way to helping Britain reduce carbon emissions, build some of the transport infrastructure we desperately need and to help bolster our public services."

GMB UNION

National officer Keith Hazlewood said: "Unless new orders are placed soon the skills and technical expertise needed to do this submarine building will be lost to the UK. If this happens the UK would struggle to build these vessels if they were to be needed in the future."

TUC

General secretary Brendan Barber said: "It is right that such a major decision on national defence strategy - with its major public expenditure implications - should be subject to full and genuine consultation.

"The TUC will begin its consultation with affiliates immediately, but three months is an unduly tight time scale for this debate on a decision that will have repercussions for decades ahead."

ROYAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

Chief executive Philip Greenish said: "The proposed new submarine fleet should be built domestically, not abroad. Building the Navy's submarine fleet abroad could undermine the nation's ability to maintain a nuclear submarine programme in the future. Continuity of both design teams and construction in the UK is crucial if major cost over-runs and delays are to be avoided."

BAE SYSTEMS

Chief executive Mike Turner said: "BAE Systems welcomes the decision that the UK's future nuclear deterrent will be deployed by submarine, which means the UK can sustain a very high level of skills and capabilities within its defence industrial base.

"Any delay would have meant a loss of those skills, making the UK dependent upon overseas suppliers."

NUCLEAR-FREE LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Co-chairman Bill Risby said: "This is a nation that only a short while ago began a terrible war against Iraq because, we were wrongly advised, they were developing weapons of mass destruction; a nation that expresses concern about the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea and the possibility of Iran doing the same.

"Such a nation should not continue replacing or modernising its own nuclear arsenal. Even our own prime minister admits to the fact that there is no recognisable potential nuclear enemy."

LABOUR MP JOAN RUDDOCK (FORMER CND CHAIRWOMAN)

"I'm disappointed that they want to go on with Trident into the future. I think they have failed to ask the very important questions: what are the threats that we are facing today and how do we best deal with them?

"These threats include, of course, international terrorism and climate change and they require a lot of co-operation and a very different approach and a very different diplomacy from the situation we had in the Cold War."





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