Monday, 14 September 2015

Corbyn’s Trident conundrum


With attention firmly focused on Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment of John McDonnell as shadow chancellor, his less-noticed appointment of Trident–supporting Maria Eagle as shadow defence secretary alongside the re-appointment of the similarly Trident-backingr Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary, begs the question: of what will Labour policy on Trident replacement be?

Corbyn has been a longstanding opponent of all nuclear weapons, joining CND in his teens. He currently chairs the Parliamentary CND group, and  is a vice chair of national CND as well as chairman of the Stop the War Coalition. He is Parliament’s and Labour staunchest opponent of renewing Trident

This could be one of the trickiest policy conundrums for which Corbyn now has to find a political answer.

One option he has is to argue Labour should return to its roots as a party of constructive multilateral nuclear disarmament, that would allow both Ms Eagle and Benn to argue strongly for Trident to be put into international multilateral  nuclear disarmament negotiations, but  with the UK taking the lead as it did nearly fifty years ago.

Papers available in the National Archives in Kew show that  on 23 January 1968, Fred (later Lord) Mulley, as the Labour Government's disarmament minister, addressed the plenary meeting of the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) in Geneva, explaining why nations should sign up to the newly negotiated Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), telling the ministerial delegations:


"As I have made clear in previous speeches, my government accepts the obligation to participate fully in the  [nuclear disarmament ]negotiations required by [NPT] Article VI and it is our desire that these negotiations should begin as soon as possible and should produce speedy and successful results. There is no excuse now for allowing a long delay to follow the signing of this treaty."



Shortly after, on  26 January 1968, a confidential memo by Mulley for the cabinet  defence  and oversea (sic) policy committee laid out Britain's position on the key nuclear disarmament clause, which became NPT article 6, commented:

"A number of countries may withhold their ratification of the treaty until nuclear-weapon states show they are taking seriously the obligations which this article imposes on them. It will therefore be essential to follow the treaty up quickly with the further disarmament measures if it is to be brought into force and remain in force thereafter. We have therefore begun to work on a paper examining the most suitable measures on which we should concentrate our attention once a non-proliferation treaty has been achieved."

A few days afterwards, on 30 January, and the NPT was presented to the cabinet for its endorsement. A supportive foreign office memo stated:

"a lot of the thinking behind the treaty, and some of the language, originally came from us."

On 27 June that year, the NPT, including the key article VI obligation on nuclear weapon signatory states, to negotiate nuclear disarmament in good faith, was presented to Parliament as Cmnd 3683.

A talking paper (number 38) prepared for ministers in mid-April that year pointed out: "It should be remembered that the NPT is in the first instance, in the interests of non-nuclear countries themselves, adding to their security against the development of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear rival states, and sparing them the vast expense of developing such weapons themselves."


If we fast forward to June 2007,  former Labour  Party interim leader, Margaret Beckett  was coming to the end of her time as Foreign Secretary under the last Labour Government, when she made a very important speech to a prestigious and influential annual conference held in Washington DC by the Carnegie International Endowment for Peace


Dame Margaret – as she is now-  called for negotiators to take additional steps toward nuclear disarmament.


She said:


 “The judgment we made 40 years ago [at the NPT’s signing] that the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons was in all our interests is just as true today as it was then. For more than 60 years, good management and good fortune have meant that nuclear arsenals have not been used, but we cannot rely just on history to repeat itself.”


[Keynote address at Carnegie International Nonproliferation Conference, Washington, D.C., June 25, 2007]


These were very wise words then, and remain just as wise today. Take note Maria Eagle and Hilary Benn

A radical review and visionary reform of strategic security policy is needed

Below is my response to the current Government consultation on Strategic Defence and Security Review the arguing that s radical review and visionary reform of strategic security Is needed.
The SDSR consultation summarises its aims as follows:

The Cabinet Office, Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Ministry of Defence as well as other departments are working together on the NSS and SDSR. This review will look at the full range of threats that we face; it will examine the capabilities we need to counter them; and help us judge how to resource those capabilities.
As part of this work, we are engaging with a range of audiences, including Parliament, academics, industry, think tanks, Allies and partners, non-governmental organisations and the public. This is why we have developed an online form giving members of the public the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions on defence and security matters which will be used to inform the work we are doing.


1.Changed security threats

I want in my submission to concentrate on two areas - subtitled “Wider Security”* - of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, itself titled 'Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty'.

[see ANNEX1 for the text of this section]

In my view the significant future security threat to the UK, and our European neighbours, will be the massive social dislocation that will be caused globally by serious climate change, enforcing mass migration from the hotter regions around the equator, northwards and southwards.

This will require a huge transfer of resources, of the order of many £ tens of billions, in the public purse into the International development (overseas aid) and environmental  budgets, to bolster sustainable development strategies in conjunction with our EU neighbours, and richer nations around the world, including the oil rich states, whose own petro-wealth accumulation has exacerbated the climate change problems by providing fossil fuel energy resources to worlds markets, thus delaying the onset of truly sustainable energy strategies, led by renewable energies and energy efficiency.

The current annual UK defence budget  for 2015-16 is £33,600,000,000 (£33.6 billion), with a further £11.4 billion in defence R&D, foreign military and economic aid and civil defence.

The current UK annual International Development budget is £10.328 billion. The Department for international Development (DfID) states that its:


“Programmes cover a range of countries or regions, in the annual resources and results cycle. This establishes an aid framework allocation, approved by the Secretary of State, which provides divisions within DFID with a firm budget for the current year and indicative budgets for future years.

Table A.1 sets out DFID’s actual programme resource outturn for 2014–15, and plans for 2015–16 are represented. These plans may be subject to revision as, by its nature, the Department’s work is dynamic. The precise way in which DFID spends will reflect changing demands and the speed at which different projects are implemented and new projects developed, while at the same time protecting ministerial spending commitments.

Some 2015–16 allocations to specific programmes such as the ebola crisis were still to be made at the time of preparing this report.

Front line delivery represents operating costs associated with DFID staff who are directly responsible for implementing aid programmes and are predominantly based overseas. Front line delivery, while forming part of DFID’s total operating costs, is contained within DFID’s programme budget allocation.”



It is clear from the unfolding refugee crisis across Europe, arising from people fleeing war and economic dislocation respectively in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and from Africa, (mainly sub-Saharan Africa and Libya), this budget it totally inadequate for the demands upon it. Predicted future climate change will increase manifold the refugee crisis, and increase significantly the demands on resources to deal t with both the causes and courses of the global refugee crisis



Meanwhile the annual Budget for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is £2.866 billion, the most significant proportion of which is allocated to UK agricultural support.

A relatively paltry amount is spent annually on combatting/mitigating climate change in so-called ‘developing countries’, as the recent Parliamentary answer pasted below demonstrates.


Asked by Jeremy Lefroy


Asked on: 04 September 2015

Department for International Development

Developing Countries: Climate Change


To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much the Government spent on climate finance for (a) mitigation and (b) adaptation to developing countries in each year between 2009 and 2015.


Answered by: Grant Shapps

Answered on: 11 September 2015

UK Government support to help people both adapt to the impacts of climate change, and to mitigate its future impacts, is delivered in an integrated way through a range of programmes. Tracking spend on adaptation and mitigation only began in 2011 when the International Climate Fund (ICF) was established. Since 2011/12 approximate funding has been as follows:


2011/12 - £136m
2012/13 – £212m
2013/14 – £228m


2011/12 – £199m
2012/13 - £272m
2013/14 - £418m

Data for 2014/15 and 2015/16 will be published once available.

This  figures will require very significant increases, as the climate change threat, and consequent migration increase, becomes more manifest year on year. DFID and DEFRA should future proof their projected budgets taking this extreme predictable future into account.

2. Military hardware

The 2010 SDSR stated at section 3.6:

As a responsible nuclear weapon state and party to the NPT, the UK also remains committed to the long term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. We will continue to work to control proliferation and to make progress on multilateral disarmament, to build trust and confidence between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states, and to take tangible steps towards a safer and more stable world where countries with nuclear weapons feel able to relinquish them.”

The full section on what the SDSR calls “The Deterrent” – what I prefer to name more accurately Britain’s nuclear weapons of mass destruction – is pasted below at Annex 2.

In this part of my response, I want to argue that continue deployment of Trident WMDs undermines current security; and any plans to replace the nuclear WMD system will undermine our future security capacities, as the immensely expansive system would re-direct investment resources from other military hardware projects that should be given urgent priority.

Current Government judgement is there is no direct military threat to the UK, and no future military threat envisioned which could be combatted by use of Trident nuclear WMDs. In a policy non-sequitur, ministers then try to justify investing up to £100 billion over a projected lifetime in a replacement for Trident nuclear WMDs, by postulating amorphous, possible future threats which could demand Trident nuclear WMDs deployment.

This is surely self-serving and far-fetched fantasy.

 Actually, the current defence secretary has told Parliament, in a debate on Trident on 20 January this year: “we share the vision of a world that is without nuclear weapons, achieved through multilateral disarmament."

Shortly after, in February, the Foreign Office hosted a high-level meeting in London of the nuclear weapons policy chiefs of the five nuclear weapons powers that comprise the permanent five  (P5) members of the US Security Council – UK, US, Russia, France and China- to discuss steps towards nuclear disarmament, and their collective final statement included the following:

“The P5 reaffirmed that a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament that promotes international stability, peace and undiminished and increased security for all remains the only realistic and practical route to achieving a world without nuclear weapons.”

 (Joint statement from the Nuclear-Weapon States at the London P5 Conference, 6 February 2015,

More recently, foreign office minister Tobias Ellwood said in a statement the "Government retains a commitment  to  a world  without  nuclear weapons  following the end of the month-long review conference of the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) in New York (Foreign Office Press, release 23 May).

My view is instead of spending the massive £100 billion on nuclear re-armament, some of this should be set aside for implementation of the nuclear disarmament, in an environmentally safe and secure fashion, of which the ministers and officials cited above have spoken this year.

The remaining money currently earmarked for the replacement of the Trident nuclear WMD system should be re-allocated to building dual purpose surface ships for the Royal Navy and rescue helicopters, with aim of providing state-of-the-art floating platforms for assisting populations threatened by climate change and local war, with medical equipment and capacity to be reconfigured for emergency evacuation.

The rest of the saved resource from not replacing the Trident nuclear WMD should be re-allocated to the Foreign Office for enhanced diplomacy, and increase in ‘soft power’-  for which the UK diplomatic corps has a deserved high global reputation

Wider Security
4.1 The National Security Risk Assessment set out a wide range of risks. The National Security Council has enabled the Government to ensure that all parts of government are integrated in dealing with security issues.
4.2 The Risk Assessment identified wider security risks we should give greatest priority to, based upon their relative likelihood and impact. These include three of the four Tier One risks (terrorism, cyber security and civil emergencies in the form of natural hazards or accidents) as well as other important issues:
A. Terrorism
B. Instability and conflict overseas
C. Cyber security
D. Civil emergencies
E. Energy security
F. Organised crime
G. Border security
H. Counter proliferation and arms control.
4.3 In the following sections, we set out how we will put in place the adaptable approach to implementing our new set of National Security Tasks and Planning Guidelines (see Part One) to tackle these risks. In each case, we focus on the specific changes the Government will be introducing, and how these can be achieved within the available resources.
A. Terrorism
4.A.1 Terrorism is a Tier One risk in the National Security Risk Assessment. The most significant terrorist threat to the UK and its interests overseas comes from the Al Qaeda senior leadership based in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and their affiliates and supporters. The current threat to the UK from international terrorism is judged to be Severe, meaning that an attack in this country is highly likely. The threat is becoming more diverse as groups affiliated to and inspired by Al Qaeda develop more autonomy in directing operations. As such we are likely to see a more unpredictable picture in the future, potentially with more frequent, albeit less sophisticated attacks.
4.A.2 The threat from residual terrorism linked to Northern Ireland is a growing concern. There is a calculated campaign of violence from small dissident republican groups. Despite continuing political progress, their activities have increased in the last 18 months and the security situation is unlikely to improve in the short term. There have been 37 attacks this year, compared with 22 in all of 2009. The ongoing recruitment of experienced terrorists and a younger generation will contribute to a continued high level of threat in Northern Ireland, as well as in Great Britain where the threat level was recently raised from Moderate to Substantial, meaning that an attack is a strong possibility.
4.A.3 While we cannot eliminate terrorism, we can reduce the risk to the UK and our interests overseas. The National Security Tasks and Guidelines in Part One set out an approach that tackles terrorism at every stage and integrates our domestic and overseas work: pursuing terrorists through assessed intelligence, investigations and disruptions in the UK and overseas; preventing people from becoming terrorists; and protecting critical national infrastructure and crowded places. In the event of an attack we can ensure we are prepared by having robust crisis management measures in place.
4.A.4 Following a rigorous analysis of our current approach, this section sets out the specific changes we will make to our counter-terrorism work. We will continue to give high priority to counter­terrorism compared to other areas of national security, and public policy more generally. We will therefore ensure that our key counter-terrorism capabilities are maintained and in some areas enhanced. We will:
               continue to prioritise the counter-terrorism elements of policing. We will maintain core capabilities in counter-terrorism policing which are crucial to countering the threat from terrorism, while introducing efficiency savings. These efficiency savings will be achieved by greater prioritisation of policing efforts, the reorganisation of headquarters and wider police reform. The Home Office has worked closely with the police to ensure that resources can be adapted to changing demands and, where appropriate, to identify areas for savings;
               continue to invest in a range of covert intelligence capabilities to enable us to identify, investigate and disrupt terrorist activity at the earliest possible stage. The intelligence community will work together to achieve this, including the Security Service leading investigations in the UK, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) using its global network to provide insights into terrorist activity overseas and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) bringing its technical and analytical capabilities to bear;
               deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. We have been able to identify some efficiency savings that will ensure that this programme is as cost-effective as possible;
               continue to support the devolved institutions of Northern Ireland, which are endorsed by the people of Northern Ireland. Alongside our objective for wider social, economic and political progress in Northern Ireland we will pursue and develop a strategy to tackle the threat from terrorism. We will work with the devolved administration and the Irish Government to defeat the terrorists who threaten stability and prosperity. We will publish any changes to the threat assessment in the interests of transparency and to encourage vigilance.
4.A.5 We have identified areas in which we need to adapt our strategy for countering international terrorism (CONTEST) in order that our approach is proportionate, focussed and effective. We will:
               review our most sensitive and controversial counter-terrorism and security powers and, where possible and consistent with protecting the public, provide a correction in favour of liberty. This is being undertaken as part of a broader programme of work to enhance our civil liberties. We expect to amend some of the powers which have been developed since 9/11 where doing so will make them more effective and less intrusive;
               reform the counter-radicalisation workstream of the CONTEST strategy. We will review this area, with a view to separating it much more clearly than before from general communities policy. The Department for Communities and Local Government will work to encourage a more integrated society, separate from CONTEST, while the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (based in the Home Office) will be responsible for a more focussed Prevent Strategy. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will continue to focus on counter-ideology and counter-radicalisation overseas, in regions that pose the greatest threat to the UK;
               enhance the firearms capabilities of police armed response units this year, and support their work with specialist military units to
               increase the effectiveness of the response in the event of a terrorist firearms attack in the UK. We will train a greater number of police officers to be able to respond to an attack, enhance training for existing firearms officers, increase the number of armed response vehicles and introduce measures to improve joint working between police, fire and ambulance services to deal with the particular challenges of evacuating casualties during a firearms incident;
               put in place new measures to reduce the vulnerability of the UK to terrorist use of new kinds of unconventional materials. We will do this through improved protection and preparedness measures, including the deployment of improved detection capabilities and investment in medical counter-measures;
               introduce a programme to preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework. This programme is required to keep up with changing technology and to maintain capabilities that are vital to the work these agencies do to protect the public. Communications data provides evidence in court to secure convictions of those engaged in activities that cause serious harm. It has played a role in every major Security Service counter­terrorism operation and in 95% of all serious organised crime investigations. We will legislate to put in place the necessary regulations and safeguards to ensure that our response to this technology challenge is compatible with the Government’s approach to information storage and civil liberties.
B. Instability and conflict overseas
4.B.1 Recent experience has shown that instability and conflict overseas can pose risks to the UK, including by creating environments in which terrorists and organised crime groups can recruit for, plan and direct their global operations. Groups operating in countries like Somalia and Yemen represent a direct and growing terrorist threat to the UK; criminal gangs use West Africa for smuggling goods into the UK; and conflicts overseas disrupt our trade and energy supplies. A lack of effective government, weak security and poverty can all cause instability and will be exacerbated in the future by competition for resources, growing populations and climate change.
4.B.2 A key principle of our adaptable approach (set out in Part One) is to tackle threats at source. We must focus on those fragile and conflict-affected countries where the risks are high, our interests are most at stake and where we know we can have an impact. To help bring enduring stability to such countries, we will increase significantly our support to conflict prevention and poverty reduction. We will deliver this support through an integrated approach that brings together our diplomatic, development, defence and intelligence resources. Specifically, we will:
               provide clearer direction with a greater focus on results through the new Building Stability Overseas Strategy to be published in spring 2011;
               enhance the UK’s system of early warning for countries at risk of instability to ensure that our response is timely, appropriate and informed by the UK national interest;
               increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2013. The main objective of ODA is, and will continue to be, the economic development and welfare of developing countries, with all UK ODA remaining fully consistent with OECD rules. By using 30% of ODA to support fragile and conflict-affected states and tackle the drivers of instability we will help some of the poorest countries in the world address the root causes of their problems, build more responsible and accountable governments and strengthen security and justice overseas;
               direct more non-operational defence engagement overseas towards conflict prevention, security sector reform and capability building in priority countries, including through: establishing new training teams; running joint exercises; attaching senior civilian policy advisers to foreign defence

The Deterrent
3.1 The National Security Tasks and Planning Guidelines set out the need for a minimum effective nuclear deterrent as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threats. In parallel with the Strategic Defence and Security Review we have conducted a review of our nuclear declaratory policy, and scrutinised Trident replacement to ensure value for money, including the scope for further reductions in the scale of our nuclear weapons capability. The conclusions are set out below.
The strategic context
3.2 No state currently has both the intent and the capability to threaten the independence or integrity of the UK. But we cannot dismiss the possibility that a major direct nuclear threat to the UK might re-emerge – a state’s intent in relation to the use or threat of use of its capabilities could change relatively quickly, and while we will continue to work internationally to enhance mutual trust and security, we cannot rule out a major shift in the international security situation which would put us under grave threat.
3.3 Despite the success of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) over the last 40 years in limiting the number of states with nuclear capabilities, large arsenals remain and the risk of nuclear proliferation continues. We cannot discount the possibility that the number of states armed with nuclear weapons might increase. Equally there is a risk that some countries might in future seek to sponsor nuclear terrorism. We must not allow such states to threaten our national security or to deter us and the international community from taking the action required to maintain regional and global security.
3.4 It is also important to recognise that the UK’s nuclear deterrent supports collective security through NATO for the Euro-Atlantic area; nuclear deterrence plays an important part in NATO’s overall strategy and the UK’s nuclear forces make a substantial contribution.
Nuclear weapons policy
3.5 At the beginning of this Parliament, the Foreign Secretary announced a review of our nuclear declaratory policy to ensure that it is appropriate to the political and security context in 2010 and beyond. The UK has long been clear that we would only consider using our nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances of self defence, including the defence of our NATO Allies, and we remain deliberately ambiguous about precisely when, how and at what scale we would contemplate their use.
3.6 As a responsible nuclear weapon state and party to the NPT, the UK also remains committed to the long term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. We will continue to work to control proliferation and to make progress on multilateral disarmament, to build trust and confidence between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states, and to take tangible steps towards a safer and more stable world where countries with nuclear weapons feel able to relinquish them.
3.7 We are now able to give an assurance that the UK will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT. In giving this assurance, we emphasise the need for universal adherence to and compliance with the NPT, and note that this assurance would not apply to any state in material breach of those non-proliferation obligations. We also note that while there is currently no direct threat to the UK or its vital interests from states developing capabilities in other weapons of mass destruction, for example chemical and biological, we reserve the right to review this assurance if the future threat, development and proliferation of these weapons make it necessary.
Value for money
3.8 In December 2006, the previous Government published The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent White Paper (Cm6994). In March 2007 Parliament voted to retain a minimum nuclear deterrent based on the current Trident missile delivery system. Under the previous Government, work started on a programme to replace the current Vanguard class submarines when they leave service in the late 2020s. In May this year the Coalition programme for government stated that ‘we will maintain Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and have agreed that the renewal of Trident will be scrutinised to ensure value for money. Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives’. The value for money review has now been completed.
3.9 The Government will maintain a continuous submarine-based deterrent and begin the work of replacing its existing submarines. We will therefore proceed with the renewal of Trident and the submarine replacement programme, incorporating the savings and changes set out below. The first investment decision (Initial Gate) will be approved, and the next phase of the project commenced, by the end of this year.
3.10 The review has concluded that the overall cost of the submarine and warhead replacement programmes and associated infrastructure remains within the £20 billion cost estimate foreseen in 2006 at 2006 prices. To drive value for money we will:
               defer decisions on a replacement to the current warhead
               reduce the cost of the replacement submarine missile compartment
               extend the life of the current Vanguard class submarines and re-profile the programme to build replacement submarines
               consequently, take the second investment decision (Main Gate) finalising the detailed acquisition plans, design and number of submarines around 2016
               work with British industry to improve efficiency and optimise to expected demand its capacity to build and support submarines.
As a result of our reassessment of the minimum necessary requirements for credible deterrence we will:
               reduce the number of warheads onboard each submarine from 48 to 40
               reduce our requirement for operationally available warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120
               reduce our overall nuclear weapon stockpile to no more than 180
               reduce the number of operational missiles on each submarine.
The overall impact of the changes identified by the value for money review will be to reduce costs by £3.2 billion, saving approximately £1.2 billion and deferring spending of up to £2 billion from the next 10 years; we expect some of the deferred spend ultimately to be translated into real savings in later years. These savings do not alter in any way the nature and credibility of the nuclear deterrent, including maintenance of Continuous At Sea Deterrence. Further detail is set out below.
3.11 The Government has concluded that we can meet the minimum requirement of an effective and credible level of deterrence with a smaller nuclear weapons capability. We will therefore cut the maximum number of nuclear warheads onboard each deployed submarine from 48 to 40. Together with improved stockpile management, that will reduce our requirement for operationally available warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120. We will also reduce the number of operational missiles on the Vanguard class

submarines to no more than eight. These changes will start to take effect over the next few years. This will enable us to reduce our overall nuclear warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid 2020s.
Replacement warheads
3.12 Since 2006, work has been progressing in order to determine the optimum life of the existing warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options. Under the 1958 UK-US Agreement for Cooperation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence Purposes (the ‘Mutual Defence Agreement’) we have agreed on the future of the Trident D5 delivery system and determined that a replacement warhead is not required until at least the late 2030s. Decisions on replacing the warhead will not therefore be required in this Parliament. This will defer £500 million of spending from the next 10 years. We have also reached agreement with the US over the size of the missile tubes in the new submarines; this has enabled us to reduce the cost of the submarine missile compartment by up to £250 million.
3.13 We have reviewed the scope to extend the life of the existing Vanguard class submarines and have concluded that, with sufficient investment, we can safely operate them into the late 2020s and early 2030s. This affords us the opportunity to adjust the build programme of the replacement submarines to match, reducing cost in the short-term with the aim of delivering the first new submarine in 2028. Later this year detailed design work on the new class of submarines will begin. This will provide the information needed in order to determine whether maintaining continuous at sea deterrence would require four submarines, or a fleet of only three. A decision on submarine numbers would be required at the Main Gate point of our acquisition programme, around 2016.
3.14 We have also determined that the next generation of submarines can be configured with only eight operational missile tubes, rather than the 16 on the current Vanguard class. Together with the US, we will now proceed with a common design for the missile compartment that provides that capacity.
Industry and infrastructure
3.15 The value for money work has also examined the organisations and infrastructure that support our deterrent to ensure that they are as efficient as possible. We have identified a number of areas where spending can be reduced and in some cases deferred in order to minimise expenditure. As a result, we have agreed to defer and potentially to remove over £1 billion of future spending on infrastructure over the next 10 years.
3.16 Across the whole of the nuclear defence programme we will be working closely with our industrial suppliers to improve commercial arrangements and efficiency. Under this Submarine Enterprise Performance Programme we expect to deliver substantial savings of at least £900 million over the next 10 years.
The national security strategy - a strong Britain in an age of uncertainty
First published: 18 October 2010