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Young People Want to Talk About Trident

12/05/2014 18:18 BST | Updated 12/07/2014 10:59 BST

Why is Britain still funnelling money into a weapon born out of the Cold War period? For me, and hundreds of other young people according to a recent survey by WMD Awareness, the answer seems to be because we want to protect our status.

Each of the five declared nuclear weapon states that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - US, UK, China, Russia, France - are afraid that admitting we do not actually need nuclear weapons will lessen their relevance and political influence in the world. Far be it for these states to put into action one of the main goals enshrined in the NPT - "achieving nuclear disarmament".

Put another way and it sounds absurd: Why are we planning on spending £100 billion to renew a weapon system floating around in submarines off the coast of Scotland when it could completely destroy us and our climate, leaving radiation for years to come? If Britain chooses to renew Trident in 2016, this is ultimately the choice we will make.

Those who defend this choice usually state that otherwise Britain would be seen as weak, leaving us vulnerable to a nuclear attack. Yet this argument is no longer plausible because owning Trident has not stopped other nuclear weapon states attacking the UK - it's just that nowadays cyber attacks are their method of choice. According to the government's national security strategy, 'cyber attacks' and 'the war on terror' are the top challenges we face, neither of which can be resolved through the stockpiling of nuclear weapons.

For me there is more strength to the argument that if the UK starts to phase out its nuclear weapons arsenal other countries would follow suit. Instead, having a closed circle of five countries that are legally allowed to own nuclear weapons has just made other countries (usually rogue states) want to be part of this exclusive group. And so the vicious circle continues - we have them, so they want them. They want them, so we must have them.

A recent ComRes survey conducted for WMD Awareness shows that more than two thirds of young adults (aged 18-35) agree that those countries who possess nuclear weapons are 'a threat to international security' (61%), and simply 'encourage other countries to invest in them' (69%).

This survey has highlighted that young voters do not see deterrence as a valuable argument for keeping nuclear weapons - more than half (51%) said Trident should be disbanded or reduced in size, compared to just 19% who thought it should be renewed.

Delaying a public debate on this issue, which for years has been confined to Westminster, has revealed the government's stance on nuclear weapons is out of touch with present day younger voters who believe that the money spent on Trident can be better spent elsewhere, especially at a time of austerity.

When young voters were asked their opinion on this on the streets of east London as part of WMD Awareness' Talking Trident initiative, they said the money could be spent combating climate change, developing the youth or even spending it on defence but in areas where we could face significant challenges in the future, such as cyber attacks.

In a country where governments have desperately tried to get young people more involved in politics MPs should not ignore our views when it comes to big issues such as Trident. Indeed many MPs, including ex-defence Minister Nick Harvey and Chairman of the Defence Select Committee James Arbuthnot, have publicly stated their support for Talking Trident and I look forward to meeting them to share my views. A long-awaited debate is finally to be had on nuclear weapons and this time young voters are making their voices heard.

This blog represents the views of the writer, not necessarily of WMD Awareness. What do you think about Carine's blog? Leave a comment or join in the debate on Twitter using #TalkingTrident