Both the Telegraph and the BBC carry stories claiming that the UK Government is about to order nuclear reactors for the submarines which will carry the replacement to Trident, and that this will cause problems for the Liberal Democrats.
Peter Black, on the other hand, is clear that the UK Government has not yet committed to the Trident replacement and that the Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose the simple replacement of Trident. Technically, he’s correct; the final decision on Trident replacement has not yet been taken and will not be taken until conveniently after the next UK General Election.
And of course, for a government building aircraft carriers with no aircraft, there’s probably nothing at all strange about building submarine nuclear reactors with no submarines in which to fit them. It still looks like a strange decision to me though, and it makes the ‘main gate’ timetable of 2016 look increasingly like a fig leaf to cover for Lib Dem complicity in an unpalatable decision.
There is something odd about the Lib Dems position anyway. Although presented as opposition to Trident replacement, they are not actually opposed to the continued possession of nuclear weapons, or even to the upgrading or renewal of those weapons. Their opposition is concentrated on the means of delivery – their objection is to the submarines which would carry the warheads, not to the warheads themselves.
In short, they want to retain the weapons, but develop a less effective way of delivering them. There’s something very Liberal Democrat about that position.