Brown's Trident plans 'feeble and ineffective'

Three national Church leaders have criticised Gordon Brown over his 'feeble and ineffective' pledge to reduce the UK's nuclear submarine fleet from four to three.

The leaders have made their statement following reports that Gordon Brown will pledge to cut the number of Trident missile-carrying submarines at a meeting at the UN. However, the Government has made it clear that retaining the UK's nuclear missiles is 'non negotiable'.

The full statement follows:

Reducing Britain's fleet of nuclear-armed Vanguard submarines from four to three is a feeble and ineffective gesture. It does nothing to support moves towards global nuclear disarmament and very little to alleviate pressure on public finances.

At a time when the Ministry of Defence are calling for improved helicopter and other logistical support for frontline troops, the white elephant Trident project makes little sense. The enormous £20 billion cost of replacing this system will not be much reduced by the decision to build only three Vanguard submarines. With health and education expenditure under great pressure public support for Trident is evaporating fast.

Peace and security in the 21st century necessitate the building of fairer global systems in which the benefits of freedom and development are more equally shared.

It is becoming ever clearer that our future security cannot rely on the outmoded concept of nuclear deterrence. As Christians, we believe that a world free of nuclear weapons is not only desirable but realistic. We welcome the Government's stated commitment to the cause of global nuclear disarmament but urge the Government to combine words and action.

The Revd Dr Martyn Atkins
General Secretary of the Methodist Church

The Revd Roberta Rominger
General Secretary of the United Reformed Church

The Revd Jonathan Edwards
General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain

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