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Ministers Reject Calls to Discuss Trident Replacement

Ministers are refusing to appear before a Commons Inquiry into the future of Britain\'s nuclear weapons despite Government promises of an open debate on the issue. MPs on the Commons Defence Select Committee said MoD ministers and officials had turned down a request to give evidence on whether Britain should replace the Trident missile system, and why. \"Work is at a very early stage at official level, ministers are not engaged,\" the MoD said yesterday. The Government has rejected requests under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose studies on the costs involved. The Government also says it is not in the public interest to publish its assessments about what threats such weapons could deter. A former top MoD official told the Committee that replacing Trident may be too costly. \"The hard question is \'How much is it worth?\' I am not an absolutist on this question at all. I want to know how much it is going to cost,\" said Sir Michael Quinlan, a former permanent secretary at the MoD in the 1980s and 1990s. \"My own view is that there will be some cost that will be simply too much to pay for the insurance of staying in this business.\" Despite his concerns about the cost - estimated at between £10bn and £15bn - and uncertainty about the nature of any future enemy, Sir Michael said it would be \"very difficult\" politically for any Government to abandon Britain\'s nuclear weapons as long as France had them. \"To leave the French as the only people with this, I think, would twitch a lot of very fundamental historical nerves,\" he said. Ministry Of Defence Report