Blair to present plans to replace nuclear arsenal

Prime Minister Tony Blair is to lay out plans Monday for a new multibillion-pound nuclear deterrent, a move expected to be among his last major acts as prime minister - and one likely to cause friction in his governing Labour party. Blair's Downing Street office said he would publish a proposal paper and outline for lawmakers the government's preferred option for replacing Britain's current nuclear submarine-based defense system. Britain's fleet of four nuclear-powered submarines, which are each capable of carrying up to 16 nuclear-armed Trident missiles, are expected to end their operational life by 2024. Though some legislators had urged the government to try to extend the life of the current fleet and delay a decision, both Blair and his expected successor, Treasury chief Gordon Brown, pledged to deliver a recommendation to lawmakers by the end of this year.