The British government yesterday outlined continuing security threats from dissident groups in the North as it published a new anti-terror strategy report.

The report said that cyber attacks, terrorists threat from dissident Republicans groups and also Al Qaeda, inter-state conflict and natural hazards constitute the top threats to British security. The new report was published a day before a major military review that is certain to include significant spending cuts for the first time in years.

But the new coalition government in Britain hopes to convince its critics that a sweeping review of its armed forces is necessitated by continuing security threats and is not just a money-saving exercise.

The Ministry of Defence's budget of 36.9 billion pounds is set to be cut by less than 10 per cent, which is well below the average of 25 per cent applied to other government departments, however the cuts are still likely to have major political consequences for the new government.

For that reason the government is hoping that the National Security Strategy will go some way to convincing its critics that a military review is a strategic move, and not simply a cost cutting exercise.

But an independent government watchdog has scoffed at the review, the first held in Britain since 1998, suggesting that it was a transparent attempt to tackle the record budget deficit rather than head off future threats.