19 December 2006: for immediate release
CND welcomes the view of the Defence Committee, in its report on the manufacturing and skills base of the UK’s nuclear weapons system, that ‘Any decision on the future of the UK’s deterrent should be taken on the strategic defence needs of the country’. CND also welcomed the Committee’s conclusion that ’employment factors should not be decisive in the debate on the future of the deterrent.’
But CND today warns of the dangers of backing a Trident Replacement on the grounds of support for British jobs and skills, particularly in the submarine sector, and notes the ambiguous phrasing in the government’s recent White Paper: ‘It would be our intention to build the new SSBNs in the UK…but this is dependent on proposals from industry that provide the right capability at the right time and offer value for money.’ It also states that the Government will ‘seek to bear down on the costs by sourcing some sub-system elements from overseas.’
Kate Hudson, Chair of CND, said:
‘Community and workforce concerns about the future of employment in this sector, particularly in Barrow, where the submarines are produced, are entirely understandable. Clearly, CND believes that Britain cannot choose to build new weapons of masss destruction in order to retain these jobs, because the security consequences for Britain and the world will be deeply damaging. But it is also clear that there is no guarantee from the government that the jobs will stay in Britain even if a replacement is pursued. Trident replacement is a dead end for Britain, industrially, financially, legally, morally and in security terms.’
‘It is incumbent upon the government to support an alternative industrial investment strategy to ensure that the skills and expertise of the workforce is redeployed in employment of equal standing. Redirection of investment and subsidies into non-nuclear production and facilities can more than compensate for jobs currently located in the nuclear sector.’
In its written evidence to the Committee, CND observed:
‘An effective alternative employment and defence diversification strategy can meet concerns around the maintenance of jobs and skills whilst enabling the UK to comply with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.’ Options for alternative employment opportunities, which could use the skills of the nuclear weapons workforce, could cover the areas of decommissioning and international disarmament work, development and production of renewable energy resources. CND also noted that a skills shortage currently exists in the area of engineering and physical science, which would be increased by a decision to replace Trident.
Notes to Editor:
1. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 32,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.