Trident failure: Nuclear missile misfire represents ‘wider failing’ in UK defence strategy, SNP claims

The SNP comments follow reports about a Trident missile test failure

The UK’s failed nuclear missile test launch represents a wider failure in the UK government’s defence spending and strategy, the SNP has claimed.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, the SNP’s defence spokesperson, claimed the failure to test launch one of the UK’s nuclear missiles, combined with perceptions of the immorality of the weapons, showed the Tories poor choices when it came it priorities.

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed an “anomaly occurred” during a an exercise that took place on January 30 on board the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Vanguard, which is based on the Clyde.

Undated handout file photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of the test firing of a Trident missile.Undated handout file photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of the test firing of a Trident missile.
Undated handout file photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of the test firing of a Trident missile.

Officials said they could not say any more because the incident relates to national security. But defence secretary Grant Shapps said there remained “absolute confidence” in Britain’s constant at-sea nuclear deterrent and that it continued to be “secure and effective”.

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Shapps said: “On this occasion, an anomaly did occur, but it was event specific and there are no implications for the reliability of the wider Trident missile systems and stockpiles.”

Mr Docherty-Hughes said: “This was a seriously expensive failure, and one that is symptomatic of the UK government’s wider defence spending and strategy.

“The financial burden imposed by Trident renewal is enormous and is coming at a great cost to our conventional military capabilities and ability to focus money on other priorities like supporting households through a cost of living crisis.

“This is the second failed test in a row of weapons that are costing us tens of billions – an embarrassing and scandalous fact that should serve as a wake-up call to the UK government.

"It speaks volumes of the Tory government's spending priorities that it is intent on increasing its collection of weapons of mass destruction, which will sit and gather dust unless the UK has plans to indiscriminately wipe out entire populations, rather than address the serious challenges in both our conventional capabilities and the inequalities in our society that have been further exposed by over a decade of Tory rule.

“A clear majority of Scotland’s elected parliamentarians, both at Holyrood and Westminster, are opposed to Trident, as are large sections of society across Scotland, including many faith groups.

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“Westminster control means continued cuts and a focus on horrific nuclear weapons. Only a vote for the SNP can ensure Scotland’s values are represented and our unique defence needs are met.”

It is said to be the second misfiring in a row, with a test launch of a Trident missile by the Royal Navy off the coast of the US in June 2016 also reported to have been a failure.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “Reports of a Trident test failure are concerning. The defence secretary will want to reassure Parliament that this test has no impact on the effectiveness of the UK’s deterrent operations.”

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: “HMS Vanguard and her crew have been proven fully capable of operating the UK’s continuous at-sea deterrent, passing all tests during a recent demonstration and shakedown operation (DASO) — a routine test to confirm that the submarine can return to service following deep maintenance work.

“The test has reaffirmed the effectiveness of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, in which we have absolute confidence.”



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