Britain promises US it will keep nuclear deterrent

Britain plans for deep military spending cuts as part of an austerity drive.

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2010, 14:10 PM IST

London: Britain has promised the United States that it will keep its nuclear deterrent as it makes plans for deep military spending cuts as part of an austerity drive, a report said on Friday.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox made the pledge in talks this week with US counterpart Robert Gates after the Pentagon expressed concern at the scale of cuts planned by Britain`s coalition government, The Times reported.

Fox has been ordered to cut his budget by up to 20 percent as the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, formed in May, battles to wipe out a record deficit of more than GBP 150 billion (USD 230 billion, EUR 180 billion).

The Conservative minister is undertaking a defence review to decide where the axe should fall, which is due to report before Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announces wide-ranging cuts to public spending on October 20.

Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat armed forces minister, this week suggested a decision on whether to replace Britain`s Trident nuclear submarines could be delayed until after the next general election in 2015.

Fox reassured Gates on Wednesday that Britain would keep the deterrent and other capabilities valued by Washington, said The Times.

Gates reportedly said the US wanted Britain to keep its deterrent as he did not want "sole responsibility" for providing a nuclear umbrella for military alliance NATO.

The British minister also pledged that Britain would retain the ability to mount medium-scale operations overseas, but not at the level of the 10,000-strong deployment in Afghanistan, said the paper.

Bureau Report