Jeremy Corbyn was recently elected head of the Labour Party, and has faced plenty of criticism during his short time in charge.
Now Corbyn has ignited more controversy by speaking out on the future of the UK’s nuclear weapons program. He believes that it is time to get rid of the Trident nuclear deterrent, and claims that he would refuse to use it if he is elected UK prime minister in 2020, writes Tara John for TIME.
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New Labour leader underlines opposition to nuclear weapons
The new opposition leader used an interview with the BBC to reveal that he would not fire the UK’s nuclear weapons under any circumstances if he were elected. Corbyn also expressed his opposition to the renewal of the Trident program, which is set to cost the UK $150 billion.
“I am opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. I am opposed to the holding of nuclear weapons,” Corbyn told the BBC. “I want to see a nuclear-free world. I believe it is possible.”
As it stands, the Trident program is a sea-based nuclear weapons system which consists of missiles, submarines and warheads. Corbyn does not believe that it should be renewed because the Cold War “finished a long time ago.”
Corbyn’s comments met with opposition from within own party
“I do not think we should be renewing Trident. I think we should be fulfilling our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” said Corbyn.
Politicians in the UK are expected to decide on the future of Trident in 2016. Corbyn’s comments have sparked opposition from key figures within his own party, with shadow home secretary Andy Burnham threatening to quit if Labour adopts a policy of opposition to Trident.
Shadow defense secretary Maria Eagle also criticized Corbyn’s comments. “I don’t think that a potential prime minister answering a question like that, in the way in which he did, is helpful,” she said.
Corbyn looks set to be on collision course with influential Labour party figures who would perhaps have preferred that their newly elected leader had not been so frank on such a key issue. If the UK does decide to renew Trident, as it is expected to, Corbyn is essentially telling potential enemies that a multi-billion dollar nuclear deterrent system can be completely disregarded as he would never use it.