London, July 19: Prime Minister Theresa May warned on Tuesday (July 19) that the threat from nuclear weapons was increasing as she pressed MPs to approve the replacement of the ageing submarines that carry Britain's nuclear arsenal.
In her first address to the House of Commons since taking office last week following the EU referendum, May said it would be an "act of gross irresponsibility" to abandon the nuclear deterrent.
The MPs will vote today evening on whether to approve the construction of four new submarines to carry the Trident missile system and their nuclear warheads, at a cost of £41 billion (49 billion euros, USD 54 billion).
The motion is almost certain to pass, as many Labour lawmakers are expected to back the Conservative government despite the opposition of their leader Jeremy Corbyn, and members of the Scottish National Party (SNP).
May cited Russian aggression and the nuclear ambitions of North Korea as proof that "the nuclear threat has not gone away, if anything it has increased".
"It is impossible to say for certain that no extreme threats will emerge in the next 30 or 40 years to threaten our security and way of life," she said.
"And it would be an act of gross irresponsibility to lose the ability to meet such threats by discarding the ultimate insurance against those risks in the future." Britain is one of only three nuclear-armed NATO nations, along with the United States and France.
It has had a continuous at-sea deterrent since 1969, meaning that a submarine -- equipped with up to 40 nuclear warheads -- is always deployed somewhere in the oceans.