Brown's Trident plans 'feeble and ineffective'

Three national Church leaders have criticised Gordon Brown overhis 'feeble and ineffective' pledge to reduce the UK's nuclearsubmarine fleet from four to three.

The leaders have made their statement following reports that GordonBrown will pledge to cut the number of Trident missile-carryingsubmarines at a meeting at the UN. However, the Government has madeit clear that retaining the UK's nuclear missiles is 'nonnegotiable'.

The full statement follows:

Reducing Britain's fleet of nuclear-armed Vanguard submarines fromfour to three is a feeble and ineffective gesture. It does nothingto support moves towards global nuclear disarmament and very littleto alleviate pressure on public finances.

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

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

It is becoming ever clearer that our future security cannot rely onthe outmoded concept of nuclear deterrence. As Christians, webelieve that a world free of nuclear weapons is not only desirablebut realistic. We welcome the Government's stated commitment to thecause of global nuclear disarmament but urge the Government tocombine 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