Britain’s new multibillion-pound Trident nuclear submarine fleet may be in jeopardy after the government’s own watchdog warned the project faces “major risks.”
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has cast doubt on the Trident renewal plan. The deterrent is expected to vastly exceed its budget and face technical and managerial problems.
“Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas,” an IPA report to the Treasury and Cabinet Office said.
“Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible.”
Last month, a vote in the House of Commons saw 472 MPs rule in favor of Trident’s renewal, which 117 parliamentarians opposed.
Labour Party leader and long-time anti-nuclear campaigner Jeremy Corbyn gave his party a free vote on the question, with leadership challenger Owen Smith among the Labour rebels who voted yes to renewal.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats were united in their cause against the weapons of mass destruction.
Costs are said to have already swollen by an extra £15 to £20 billion (US$19.5 to 26 billion), and the fleet’s inaugural day has been pushed back from 2024 to the “early 2030s.”
The current Trident submarines were designed to last 25 years. They are now expected to operate for 38.
The issues have led the SNP to brand the project “obscene” and uncontrollable.
“Now we hear that the alarm bells are ringing about the ability to deliver the program at all without urgent action,” SNP MP Brendan O’Hara said.
“[Prime Minister Theresa May] has just put a halt to Westminster’s other nuclear obsession – Hinkley. Perhaps she should take this opportunity to do the same and review the useless, immoral and now clearly out of control Trident program.”
Nuclear Information Service spokesman Peter Burt told the Ferret: “The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) track record on undertaking major equipment programs is littered with failures and cock-ups.”
“The MoD’s ancient and rickety nuclear infrastructure is not up to the job of replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system and the solution that the government has favoured up till now – throwing money at the problem – quite simply isn’t going to be enough to solve the fearsome technical problems that the project faces.”
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) estimates the whole Trident renewal could soon add up to £200 billion in costs to the taxpayer.