N-deterrent will be based on subs: PM
DAVID Cameron has reaffirmed his commitment to a submarine-based nuclear deterrent, arguing he did not think an alternative would save cash.
The Prime Minister also said having a continuous at-sea presence was vital to its credibility.
He told MPs at Westminster the Government was moving ahead with replacing the four ageing Vanguard-class vessels, which currently carry the Trident missiles.
It comes as former Liberal Democrat Defence Minister Sir Nick Harvey, who lost his job in the recent reshuffle, said the Government may not be able to afford to renew the deterrent because of the cost pressures from future military projects.
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The plans have far-reaching implications for thousands of jobs in Plymouth.
Devonport is the UK's only base with the specialist facilities and skilled workforce needed to maintain the current and future submarine fleet.
Sir Nick said the Ministry of Defence was scheduled to pay for the Joint Strike Fighters, new Type 26 frigates and unmanned aircraft when Trident was coming up for renewal.
He urged the PM to consider whether it was necessary to spend millions renewing the missile system.
The Lib Dems are undertaking a review looking at whether there are cheaper alternatives to building the new Trident-carrying vessels.
"This has to come out of the defence budget and austerity is with us for some time yet," Sir Nick said.
But Mr Cameron insisted that the Government had planned for the expenditure and the projects were fully-funded.
He said: "Having carefully considered the issue of the nuclear deterrent, I do not believe that we would save money by adopting an alternative nuclear deterrent posture.
"Also, if we are to have a nuclear deterrent, it makes sense to ensure we have something that is credible and believable, otherwise there is no point in having one at all."
Responding to concerns that replacing Trident with a part-time deterrent could be "dangerously destabilising", Mr Cameron said the Government was already working to replace Vanguard.
"One of the key elements of the credibility of our deterrent has been that it is continuously at sea, and the Royal Navy takes immense pride in having been able to deliver that without a break over so many years," the PM added.