Britain will announce a £1 billion investment in the country’s new generation of nuclear weapons, local media reported.
The massive investment in nukes to be soon announced by Philip Hammond, the Defense Secretary, comes as the UK is an axis of a U.S.-led drive to strip Iran and other non-nuclear countries of their inalienable rights to master nuclear energy program, which is enshrined in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Hammond will announce a deal ordering nuclear reactors for a new class of submarines to replace the current Vanguard fleet, which carries Britain’s Trident nuclear arsenal.
The decision will also cause tensions with Liberal Democrats, the junior party to a coalition government which was formed after the May 2010 general election in the absence of a clear majority in the polls.
The decision is the most public statement yet that the government is committed to a full-scale replacement of Trident - something opposed by the Lib Dems, who want a cheaper way of maintaining nuclear weapons.
Philip Hammond will say that a Rolls-Royce plant at Raynesway, in Derby, will be given the order to build the reactors, and that the Ministry of Defense will fund an 11-year refit of the plant. The contract will create 300 jobs and many more in the factory’s supply chain.
One senior Liberal Democrat source told The Sunday Telegraph
this weekend that the replacement of Trident remains a “massive fault line” between the Coalition’s two parties.
The Lib Dems pledged in their 2010 manifesto that they would oppose a “like-for-like” replacement of the submarines and the nuclear warhead-carrying missiles which they fire.
Nick Harvey, the Lib Dem defense minister, is leading a review into cheaper ways to maintain the nuclear deterrent and wants to abandon the so-called “Moscow criterion”, which recommends Britain retains an arsenal capable of destroying the Russian capital.
The new contract, to be announced in the next few days, represents the government’s biggest commitment to replacing the ageing Trident fleet, at a total cost of up to £20billion.