Heads Up, Florida: Report Alleges Misfire of British Missile

Theresa May under fire for reported cover-up
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2017 2:35 PM CST
Report: Britain Accidentally Fired Missile Toward US
In this file photo, a Trident II missile is launched by a US Navy submarine off the coast of Cape Canaveral in Titusville, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin, FILE)

The US apparently has to worry not only about enemies abroad, but old allies as well. The Times of London reports that a British nuclear submarine test-fired a missile off the Florida coast last June that malfunctioned and "may have veered" toward the American mainland. Two good things prevented catastrophe: The Trident missile was unarmed, and it didn't actually hit the US. But this is now big news in Britain because the report alleges that David Cameron's government covered up the misfire, given that it came mere weeks ahead of a vote on beefing up the Trident system. Theresa May soon took over as prime minister and did not mention the misfire in July when she successfully persuaded parliament to spend about $50 billion on new Trident submarines.

So did May actually know about the malfunction? A BBC interviewer asked her that question Sunday morning four different times, and she dodged it every time, reports the Guardian. "I have absolute faith in our Trident missiles," May said instead. "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." It's not clear what caused the malfunction, but the Times reports that the missile was supposed to hit a target off the coast of Africa. Instead, it reportedly went the wrong way, setting off "major panic" on Downing Street, a source tells the paper. "It's a pretty catastrophic error when a missile goes in the wrong direction," says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. "I think we need a serious discussion about that." (More Britain stories.)

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