LONDON (ABP) — Baptists and other Christian leaders in the United Kingdom are urging the government to scrap plans to replace its fleet of nuclear-armed submarines.
The Baptist Union of Great Britain joined the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church in a briefing for the “Better off without Trident” campaign outlining costs of the proposed replacement of Britain’s nuclear-weapons system over the next 15 years.
“In these days of austerity and severe cutbacks it would be extraordinary not to revisit the Trident issue,” said Jonathan Edward, general secretary of the Baptist Union. “We fully appreciate the need for the country to have appropriate defense, but urge the government to abandon this extraordinarily expensive project which relates to a defense context that has long since disappeared.”
The British government is planning to replace its Trident submarines when they reach the end of their service life in 2028. The new submarines will be designed to be in service for another 30 years. The plan is hotly debated in political circles, with opponents arguing that non-nuclear alternatives are more suitable in a post-Cold War era.
Britain currently deploys submarines carrying nuclear warheads powered by missiles leased from the United States. One submarine remains on patrol at all times, carrying an estimated eight missiles capable of carrying five warheads — a total of 40. Each warhead is eight times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
The religious leaders say that for the cost spent on Trident each year, the government could buy 62 helicopters, two aircraft carriers and nine Nimrod strike/reconnaissance aircraft, and have money left over for 15,000 teachers and community health nurses.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.