G8: Britain could cut nuclear stockpile, Gordon Brown says
US july 10-brokered talks next year aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation could pave the way for Britain to reduce its 160-warhead arsenal in return for proof from aspiring nuclear states that they had stopped their weapons programmes.
President Barack Obama has invited as many as 30 nations to talks in Washington next March. The White House said the talks would focus on preventing the spread of nuclear material to rogue states and terrorist groups.
Talks could lead to more intrusive international inspections, and pressure for countries other than the US and Russia, which together account for 95 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, to contribute to disarmament. Mr Obama earlier this week got the promise of a pact with Russia to reduce nuclear arms.
Speaking at the G8 summit in Italy, Mr Brown insisted there was no question of abandoning plans to replace the Trident weapons system. But he signalled that the number of British warheads and nuclear-armed submarines could be reduced as part of a new international agreement.
“What we need is collective action by the nuclear weapons powers to say that we are prepared to reduce our nuclear weapons, but we need assurances also that other countries will not proliferate them,” he said.
Mr Brown said the meeting could also help to draw up a replacement for the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Mr Brown said that the number of states with nuclear weapons had risen to nine from the treaty’s five original signers and that there was the “threat of a big rise in nuclear weapon states in this decade.”
He said: “The whole point of a non-proliferation treaty is those who have weapons will be looking at reducing them as far as possible.”
Mr Brown gave no details on the scale of any cuts in the British deterrent. However, a 2006 Government White Paper on replacing Trident committed Britain to reducing the number of warheads to fewer than 160. The Government has never specified what the new number will be, keeping the figure confidential.
However, Britain’s operational nuclear deterrent is routinely based on fewer than 50 warheads. A Vanguard-class submarine sails with a maximum of 48 warheads. There is normally only one submarine deployed on operational duty at any given time.
The Royal Navy has four Vanguard-class submarines capable of carrying Trident nuclear missiles. The Ministry of Defence is considering plans to cut that number to three when the Vanguards are replaced.
Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, announced this week that Labour, like the Conservatives, would hold a full Strategic Defence Review after the next election.
That raised doubts about the Trident replacement, but Mr Brown made clear he was not prepared to consider getting rid of all of Britain’s nuclear weapons, saying they remained vital to national security. He said: “Iran is attempting to build a nuclear weapon, North Korea is attempting to build a nuclear weapon. Unilateral action by the UK would not be seen as the best way.”
Russia and the US – which hold 90 per cent of the world’s warheads – made a preliminary agreement last week to cut their arsenals by as much as a third.
Britain ,Britain News, Britain World News, Britain Updates, Britain Latest, Britain Popular, Britain Biodata, Britain Biography, Britain Photo, Britain Video, Britain History, Britain Scandal, News, World news, World updates news, World today, International news, Local news, Asia news, Asia-Pacific news, Malaysia news, Europe news, U.S news, Americas news, Africa news, Middle East news, America Latin news, Asia, Asia Pacific, Malaysia, Europe, U.S, America, Africa, Middle East, America Latin, Latest news, Popular news, Breaking news, Headline news, Headline, Gallery news, News gallery, News hour, Top stories, News channel, Channel news, News web, Web news, News space, Sports news, Science news, Technology news, Science and technology news, Politics news, Political Scandal, Economy news, Health news, Business news, NASA News, Apollo 11 News, Sports, Science, Technology, Science and technology, Politics, Economy, Health, Business, NASA, APOLLO 11, Tragedy, Terrorism, Terrorist, Bf1,