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A Trident II missile is launched

(Lockheed-Martin/Reuters)

The three retired commanders said: “It must be asked in what way, and against whom, our nuclear weapons could be used”

Michael Evans, Defence Editor

Three retired military commanders are urging the Government to scrap the plan to replace the Trident nuclear deterrent.

In a letter published in The Times today, they said that Britain’s independent deterrent has become “virtually irrelevant”, and they call on Gordon Brown to spend the money saved on cancelling the Trident replacement by providing more funds for the Armed Forces to meet their current operational commitments.

Field Marshal Lord Bramall, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Lord Ramsbotham, a former Adjutant-General, and General Sir Hugh Beach, former Master General of the Ordinance, said: “Should this country ever become subject to some sort of nuclear blackmail — from a terrorist group for example — it must be asked in what way, and against whom, our nuclear weapons could be used, or even threatened, to deter or punish.”

The Government has announced that it is prepared to spend up to £20 billion on replacing the current four submarines that carry the Trident ballistic missile deterrent. An upgraded Trident missile is also to be purchased from the Americans.

The three retired military chiefs said that in the current economic climate it may prove impossible to pay for both a new Trident force and the existing overseas operational commitments.

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