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     Scottish CND     magazine

Questions about Trident

Who is Trident aimed at ?

The primary targets are in Russia. In the "strategic" role all the missiles would be fired there. Since January 1996 Trident has taken on a secondary "sub-strategic" role. For this the submarines are ready to launch an attack "to send an unmistakable message of Britain's willingness to defend our vital interests" - even against a third world country.

How much will Trident cost ?

Even after most of the building work has been completed, Trident will continue to cost huge amounts of taxpayer's money. The official Ministry of Defence estimate of the running costs of Trident is 6,000 million over 30 years. But this does not include the costs of the atom bomb factory at Aldermaston, or the cost of the forces which are allocated to protecting Trident (submarines, warships, helicopters, aircraft ..) or the infrastructure which supports the nuclear forces. Sir Ronald Mason was Chief Scientific Adviser at the Ministry of Defence. He said that the total cost of Trident was around 50,000 million - that is almost 1,000 for every man, woman and child in Britain. How much is your family paying ?

The Ministry of Defence plans to order 14 more Trident missiles from the United States before August 1998. The total cost will be around 300 million.

Some other figures: one Trident submarine costs 1,000 million, one missile costs 21 million, one lorry to transport atom bombs costs 500,000.

How many jobs does Trident create ?

None. Trident does not create jobs it destroys them. Each job in the Trident programme has cost at least 125,000 per year. If the same money was spent on hospitals, schools or housing then seven times more people could be given jobs. Government estimates in the 1980s of how many people would be employed by Trident in Scotland have been shown to be wildly exaggerated, partly due to the transfer of the submarine refit contract from Rosyth to Devonport.

How great is the risk of nuclear war today ?

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists uses a "Doomsday Clock" to show how close we are to nuclear war. In 1991 it was at 17 minutes to midnight. In December 1995 it was moved forward to 14 minutes to midnight, because they assessed that the risk of nuclear war has increased.

Former US Secretary of State Robert McNamara was the architect of American nuclear policy. He now advocates nuclear disarmament and has warned that if we do not put the nuclear genie back in the bottle there is a substantial risk that the 21st century will witness a nuclear holocaust.

What about the argument that we need Trident because we live in a dangerous and unstable world ?

Keeping nuclear weapons only adds to the dangers of the world today, it does nothing to eliminate them. The fact that we are building atom bombs encourages other countries to do the same. If we argue that these weapons are essential for our defence - then all the other nations of the world can copy our example. This only increases the risk of nuclear war. The most effective way to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons is to dismantle the arsenals that already exist.

Is the bomb an environmental issue ?

The likely consequences of nuclear war make other threats to the environment pale into insignificance. *

Today there are enough atom bombs in the world to destroy all human life on the planet several times over. One bomb can destroy a city. The Trident submarines at Faslane can destroy an entire continent.

Atom bombs not only totally devastate a huge area but also scatter lethal radiation. Over time the radiation would be dispersed throughout the entire globe.

* World Commission on the Environment & Development 1987

Scottish CND      magazine