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Monday, 11 December 2006

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Well before commenting there is one aspect I don't understand - why does tridant need to be replaced?

Is it that the nukes will all of sudden not go "bang" and kill lots of people - in other words not work any more (perhaps due to rust?)..or is it that they will still work, but like an old computer, they won't be as good as a shiny new expensive system?

If America doesn't care any more, who or what is to stop Russian ambitions being realised?

The fact that recent gas prices notwithstanding, Russia is in seemingly terminal decline and will be in no fit state to realise any ambitions beyond keeping what's left of its population fed and housed once a handful of them have squandered their hydrocarbon revenues on London real estate and English football clubs.

'PS', like most government ministers I have very little idea on *what* exactly needs up-dating. I suppose one consideration is the advance in anti-missile development requiring the incorporation of new software which probably doesn't work with current systems. As for the nuclear warheads, I have no idea if they deteriorate or not over time although my guess is that they do.

Tim, I bow to your more immediate knowledge and experience. History indicates that Russia has always possessed a very thin and brittle veneer of modernism beneath which lies a bog of backwardness. Even so, one shouldn't, I suggest, underestimate Mr. Putin's drive to use Russian muscle to gain advantages - particularly if all he has to do is lean on an already open door!

Apropos your last remark, it always amuses me the way different nations suddenly accumulate huge wealth (one thinks of the Arabs in the 1970s) and then dear, old London Town quietly relieves them of much of it!

Its a crucial distinction, as if the old tridant carries on working then Britain keeps a nuclear capability without the need for us to spend 20 billion. If, on the other hand, it doesn't work anymore then the debate is essentially about whether we retain a deterrent - which is a different debate to be had.

I think, 'PS', that the boffins must have made a case if 'ur wee Gordie Broon' reckons that sort of money is needed; after all, he would much rather flush it down the toilet of our wonderful Nationalised Health Service - "the envy of the world" except that no-one else copies it! - than spend it on bombs and missiles.

I suspect that, just as many companies find it is impossible to update their IT systems because they've stretched them as far as they'll go and so they have to bite the bullet and have a completely new system, so it is with high tech defence systems.

Question is: should we spend the money on nuclears which are unlikely ever to be used but keep us at the top table, or on building up our conventional forces which are in almost non-stop use? Reminding ourselves constantly, of course, that if we tell the Treasury that we have decided that nuclears are out, most of the 'saved' money will be squandered anywhere but in the direction of our armed services!

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