June 19, 2018

Theresa May ‘faith’ in Trident after test ‘malfunction’

daldaTheresa May says she has “absolute faith” in the UK’s nuclear weapons system despite reports that an unarmed missile went off course during a test.
The Sunday Times says the missile, fired in June, veered off course, weeks before a crucial Commons vote on Trident’s future.
When questioned by the BBC, Mrs May repeatedly refused to say if she knew about the misfire ahead of the vote.
Nicola Sturgeon said it was a “hugely serious issue”.
Scotland’s First Minister, who is a passionate opponent of Trident, tweeted: “There should be full disclosure of what happened, who knew what/when, and why the House of Commons wasn’t told.”
Meanwhile Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said it called for “a serious discussion”.
He told Sky News: “It’s a pretty catastrophic error when a missile goes in the wrong direction, and while it wasn’t armed, goodness knows what the consequences of that could have been.”
‘Urgent inquiry’
In July, weeks after the test and days after Mrs May became prime minister, MPs voted overwhelmingly to spend up to £40bn on replacing Trident.
But when asked by BBC’s Andrew Marr whether she knew then that the misfire had happened, she said: “I have absolute faith in our Trident missiles. When I made that speech in the House of Commons, what we were talking about was whether or not we should renew our Trident.”
She was asked a further three times but she did not answer the question.
The Ministry of Defence did not give details of the test process but said it was a success.
Labour former defence minister Kevan Jones has demanded an inquiry into the claims, telling the Sunday Times: “The UK’s independent nuclear deterrent is a vital cornerstone for the nation’s defence.
“Ministers should come clean if there are problems and there should be an urgent inquiry into what happened.”
The Sunday Times says the test fire was launched from HMS Vengeance off the coast of Florida.
It says the Trident II D5 missile was intended to be fired 5,600 miles (9,012 km) to a sea target off the west coast of Africa but veered towards the US.
The cause remains top secret, the paper adds, but quotes a senior naval source as saying the missile suffered an in-flight malfunction after launching out of the water.
HMS Vengeance, one of the UK’s four Vanguard-class submarines, returned to sea for trials in December 2015 after a £350m refit, which included the installation of new missile launch equipment and upgraded computer systems.
According to the Sunday Times, it is expected that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will be called to the Commons to answer questions from MPs.
In July, MPs backed the renewal of Trident by 472 votes to 117, approving the manufacture of four replacement submarines at a current estimated cost of £31bn.
During the debate Mrs May made clear she would be willing to authorise a nuclear strike, capable of killing 100,000 people.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) described reports of a misfire as a “very serious failure”.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that this would have impacted on the debate in Parliament on Trident replacement,” General Secretary Kate Hudson said.
“Nuclear weapons technology is not 100% failsafe. In so many ways it is a disaster waiting to happen, the consequences of which are too terrible to comprehend,” she added.

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