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UK says nuclear subs white paper due by year-end

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) Britain's head of military procurement has said the ministry would issue a white paper by the end of the year detailing the government's thoughts on whether it should replace its nuclear armed submarines with new ones.

''If we want to replace that deterrent at the end of its life, we have to take decisions now,'' Minister for Defence Procurement Lord Drayson told a hearing of the House of Commons' Defence Committee.

Drayson said the ministry's priorities would be topped by the country's defence needs, but that its wide ranging review would also assess the importance of maintaining industry skills and technologies.

The Royal Navy would likely need new nuclear armed submarines, if the ministry decides on that form of deterrent, beginning about 2024.

The ministry's review of its requirements also entails working with industry to consolidate the UK's defence sector.

Drayson expressed disappointment at US firm Halliburton's unit KBR, which has a stake in UK-based Devonport Management Ltd (DML), a firm involved in support of UK nuclear powered submarines. The company recently failed to provide the ministry with financial information it requested ahead of the company's plan for an initial public offering.

''Given the importance of DML to the UK ... we had to make sure there would be no negative impact on the MoD and the nuclear deterrent. This has significantly undermined our confidence in the company,'' Drayson said.

REUTERS DKS PM0428

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