British MPs to vote on replacing nuclear defenses

British lawmakers will vote in two weeks on plans to replace Britain's nuclear missile defense system, a Cabinet minister told the House of Commons Thursday. Commons leader Jack Straw said a debate and vote on proposals to commission a new nuclear deterrent, outlined by Prime Minister Tony Blair in December, would take place March 14. Blair said his favored option is to build new nuclear submarines to replace Britain's aging fleet. He told lawmakers the end of the Cold War had brought no guarantee a new "major nuclear threat" would be curbed, citing the weapons ambitions of North Korea and Iran. Debates over a new warhead program have stirred up fierce divisions in his Labor party, once committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament In a move aimed at placating disarmament campaigners, Blair has said the country's stock of nuclear warheads would be cut from 200 to 160.