The British Parliament votes today on whether to renew the country’s nuclear arsenal, and Prime Minister Tony Blair faces one of the biggest party rebellions of his leadership. As many as a hundred of his Labour party members could vote against the plan to spend almost 30 billion euros replacing its out-dated Trident missile system.
But the vote should still pass as Blair can rely on the support of the opposition conservatives. Britain is dwarfed by the other permanent UN Security Council members when it comes to its nuclear fleet. It’s thought to be the bare minimum needed to act as a deterrent to potential enemies.
Blair says a decision must be made now if the system is to be replaced in time. He insists that the international situation in the next half century is so uncertain that it would be too risky to drop nuclear weapons. But critics say there is no need for an atomic arsenal now the Cold War is over and that to develop it would encourage potential nuclear threats to follow suit.