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Nuclear sub debate surfaces in Britain

Stephen Beard Mar 14, 2007
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Nuclear sub debate surfaces in Britain

Stephen Beard Mar 14, 2007
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TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: British Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing one of his biggest parliamentary rebellions. Dozens of his party’s members are expected to vote against him today in a debate over money and missiles. From London, Stephen Beard reports.


STEPHEN BEARD: Today parliament votes on a $39 billion plan to renew Britain’s only nuclear weapons system, to build three or four new submarines to carry American-made Trident missiles.

The existing subs are good for another 17 years but, says the government, a decision is needed now because it will take that long to replace them.

Today’s vote will determine whether Britain remains a nuclear armed state.

In Parliament Tony Blair warned his party of the dangers of giving up Trident.

TONY BLAIR: The risk of giving up something that has been one of the mainstays of our security since the war. And, moreover, doing so when the one certain thing about our world is its uncertainty is not a risk I feel we can responsibly take.

But a quarter of his supporters in Parliament disagree.

They argue it would make more sense to spend the $39 billion on conventional arms. And a vote for Trident they say will only encourage countries like Iran to seek their own nuclear weapons.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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