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Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his Department’s evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry into Global Security: Non-Proliferation, HC 222, Ev 118, what assessment he has made of the merits of suspending the Trident replacement programme in the context of negotiations to reduce warhead numbers; and if he will make a statement. (284969)

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated on 17 March 2009, as soon as it becomes useful for our nuclear arsenal to be included in broader multilateral negotiations, Britain stands ready to participate and to act. A decision now not to renew our Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN) submarine fleet would pre-empt any such negotiation, by committing a future Government to unilateral disarmament at the end of the current fleet’s lifespan, regardless of the strategic circumstances at that time.