The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has slammed the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) decision to place £350m worth of design contracts for the next generation of nuclear-armed submarines – describing Britain’s nuclear weapons as a ‘bottomless pit’ for spending.

The MoD’s review of alternatives to like-for-like replacement of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system is not due to report its findings until late 2012 or early 2013. But the MoD has now placed contracts for designing new submarines with BAE, Babcock and Rolls-Royce, totaling almost £350m, which prejudges the outcome of its own review.

“Rather than acting on the priorities of the British public, the government is determined to keep pouring money into the bottomless pit that is Britain’s nuclear weapons system” said Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary.

“A majority of the public want to scrap Trident now. The last thing they want to do is replace it. And yet they are being forced to fund its replacement while they see local services cut.

“The sad truth is that as shocking as today’s announcement is, £350m is just a drop in the ocean compared with the total cost of replacing Trident, which will amount to well over £100 billion over its lifecycle.

“A parliamentary decision on whether or not to build replacement submarines is not due to take place until 2016. We must act to stop this now before more taxpayers’ money is sqaundered.”