Estimates show that Great Britain could spend $256 billion in replacing and maintaining their nuclear deterrent program. Many lawmakers are saying this figure is outrageous, and that alternative actions should be explored.
A large portion of this estimate comes from the country’s need to replace its aging fleet of submarines.
The specific cost of these submarines has not yet been provided, but it’s clear that the expense is much higher than had been originally expected.
Prime Minister of Great Britain David Cameron had previously said that replacing the submarines would not cost more than $30 million. Critics had said in the past that this estimate was much too low.
Additionally, purchasing new submarines would also raise the annual costs of Britain’s defense spending. The cost of maintaining new submarines would roughly be twice the cost of maintaining the current Trident submarines.
The country needs the submarines in order to provide a continuous deterrence to a nuclear attack, since the submarines carry nuclear warheads. However, spending such a massive amount of money on these submarines would be extremely difficult for a country that is already having to make budget cuts.
Brtitish lawmaker Crispin Blunt said, "The successor Trident program is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defense budget of its predecessor. The price required, both from the UK taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible."
Meanwhile, some military officials say that more money should be spent on maintaining the country’s army instead of investing in submarines.
Additionally, many officials are fine with keeping the Trident submarines, saying that the current program is cost-effective and within budget.
A spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defense said, “At around 6 percent of the annual defense budget, the in-service costs of the UK's national deterrent are affordable and represent an investment in a capability which plays an important role in ensuring the UK's national security.”
Furthermore, the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party Stewart Hosie blasted Cameron and the Conservative Party for even considering spending such a large sum of money on weapons that most likely wouldn’t even be used.
Hosie said in a statement, “This is truly an unthinkable and indefensible sum of money to spend on the renewal of an unwanted and unusable nuclear weapons system."
A final decision on the issue is due next year. For now, it looks like Cameron will go ahead with the extremely expensive replacement.
Cameron told the British Parliament, "I think it is right to maintain our independent nuclear deterrent and anyone who has any doubts of it only has to look at the dangers and uncertainty in our world."
One person that agrees with Cameron’s decision is British Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon, who said that global threats make the replacement necessary.
Fallon said in a speech, “I appeal to all moderate MPs (lawmakers), to put our national security first and to support building four new Trident submarines. Spread across the 30-year life of the new boats, this represents an annual insurance premium of around 0.13 percent of total government spending."
How this costly replacement will affect the British people is yet to be determined, but it’s fair to wonder if the country should be spending this much money on its military when it has other problems that it still has to deal with.