Britain’s prime minister refused to say Sunday whether she knew about an unarmed missile that reportedly failed when it was test-fired off the coast of Florida last year.
Theresa May told BBC she has total confidence in Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrence system, but didn’t confirm or deny a newspaper report about the alleged failure of a ballistic missile designed to carry nuclear warheads.
The prime minister was asked about the missile test after the Sunday Times reported that an unarmed missile launched from a submarine off Florida’s coast in June veered off course and may have headed toward the U.S.
The newspaper said top government officials decided to keep the failure of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile out of the public eye because of an upcoming debate the next month in Parliament over whether to refurbish the aging Trident, the cornerstone of Britain’s nuclear deterrent system.
“I have absolute faith in our Trident missiles,” May said Sunday when asked if she had known about a possible missile failure when she spoke to Parliament in July. “When I made that speech in the House of Commons, what we were talking about was whether or not we should renew our Trident, whether or not we should have Trident missiles.”
The British government hasn’t confirmed the newspaper’s report of a misfire.
A government statement posted on a Defense Ministry blog indicated there was a “routine unarmed Trident missile test launch from HMS Vengeance” in June.
The Royal Navy launch was “part of an operation which is designed to certify the submarine and its crew,” the statement said. The Vengeance submarine and its crew were “successfully tested and certified,” it said.
The statement says the government does not provide further details on submarine operations for “obvious” national security reasons.
Some opposition figures in the British government are seeking an inquiry into the reported missile failure and a possible cover-up.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.