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Trident Costs Soar

Maintaining and developing the Trident nuclear warheads stationed on the Clyde is going to cost the British taxpayer a massive £18.5 billion over 13 years, according to the first official breakdown of defence nuclear spending.

New figures released by the UK Government after pressure from MPs reveal that £12.7bn of public money has been spent on nuclear weapons over the last 10 years. A further £5.8bn is planned to be spent over the next three years.

The amount of cash being poured into the UK's weapons of mass destruction is also steadily increasing, from £1.1bn in 2003-04 to a projected £2.1bn in 2010-11.. A raft of new high-tech facilities is being built at the nuclear bomb factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire.

Maintaining and developing the Trident nuclear warheads stationed on the Clyde is going to cost the British taxpayer a massive £18.5 billion over 13 years, according to the first official breakdown of defence nuclear spending.

New figures released by the UK Government after pressure from MPs reveal that £12.7bn of public money has been spent on nuclear weapons over the last 10 years. A further £5.8bn is planned to be spent over the next three years.

The amount of cash being poured into the UK's weapons of mass destruction is also steadily increasing, from £1.1bn in 2003-04 to a projected £2.1bn in 2010-11.. A raft of new high-tech facilities is being built at the nuclear bomb factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire.

Up to 200 nuclear warheads are being stored behind barbed wire and watchtowers at the Royal Navy Armaments Depot at Coulport, on Loch Long. As many as 48 at a time are taken to sea from Faslane eight miles away on Gare Loch by one of four Trident submarines.

A plan to replace Trident over the next 20 years was agreed by the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and backed by MPs in London last year, despite a major Labour revolt. The plan has been pursued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The new spending figures emerged in response to questions in the House of Commons by the Liberal Democrat's defence spokesman, Nick Harvey MP. "The true cost of the Government's premature decision on Trident replacement is now coming to light," .

"Britain is spending ever larger amounts of money on the nuclear deterrent at a time when our troops are struggling with aged vehicles and a dire shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan. One has to question the priorities of the Ministry of Defence."

Harvey called on the Prime Minister to "take a lead" by pushing for nuclear disarmament at key international talks in 2010. "Instead he is quietly pouring billions into financing a replacement for Trident," said Harvey.

Scottish anti-nuclear campaigners also attacked the huge amounts of money devoted to nuclear weapons.

"The Ministry of Defence has cast a small light on the hidden world of nuclear weapons' expenditure," said John Ainslie, the co-ordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

"Gordon Brown is doubling the amount spent each year on Britain's weapons of mass destruction. The Prime Minister should listen to the people, Parliament and Government of Scotland. He should scrap the replacement of Trident and put this money to better use."

The Scottish Parliament has voted against the UK Government's plans to replace the submarine-launched Trident nuclear weapons system. The Scottish Government has set up a Working Group aimed at finding ways of getting rid of nuclear weapons.

On Saturday the Scottish CND is organising a protest outside the Faslane naval nuclear base near Helensburgh. The event is timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the first Polaris nuclear submarine patrol from Faslane, and the 26th birthday of the Faslane peace camp.

"On 14 June CND supporters will gather outside Faslane to form a peace chain' of people and banners around the nuclear base," said Ainslie.

"It is time we put an end to squandering billions of pounds on nuclear weapons."

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