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UK

Castro blasts British nuclear submarine cost

Cuba's President Fidel Castro is seen on video footage presented on the daily newscast Mesa Redonda in Havana, January 30, 2007. Castro criticised Britain on Monday for building nuclear-powered attack submarines, saying the money would be better spent treating the health of millions of people. REUTERS/Handout

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban leader Fidel Castro criticised Britain on Monday for building nuclear-powered attack submarines, saying the money would be better spent treating the health of millions of people.

In his latest editorial column, the convalescing Castro said the powerful submarines armed with cruise missiles were sophisticated weapons to be used to police a world order dominated by his archenemy, the United States.

“Churchill said: “Sink the Bismarck!” Today Blair says: “Sink what remains of Great Britain’s prestige,” Castro said in his article distributed by e-mail by the Cuban government and due to be printed in the Communist Party newspaper on Tuesday.

The 80-year-old leftist firebrand, who has not appeared in public since bowel surgery 10 months ago, took to writing editorial columns from his sickbed in March to reassert his leadership in Cuba.

Castro said Cuba could train 75,000 doctors, treat 150 million people or build 3,000 polyclinics in poor countries for the cost of the four submarines Britain is building.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Monday it has placed a 200 million pound order with BAE Systems to start building a fourth Astute class submarine.

The Astute class submarines are the largest and most powerful attack submarines ever built in Britain for the Royal Navy, the ministry said. They carry conventional weapons.

Three other Astute class submarines are under construction and the first is due to be launched on June 8 and to enter service in 2009.

Castro said Britain was once “Queen of the Seas,” but all that is left today “is just a fraction of the hegemonic power of its ally and leader, the United States.”

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