Thank you for contacting me about the UK’s nuclear stockpile.
The fundamental purpose of our nuclear weapons is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression. A minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent assigned to the defence of NATO, remains essential in order to guarantee our security and that of our Allies.
Regarding your concerns about the UK’s nuclear stockpile, I would like to reassure you that the UK remains deeply committed to our collective long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, under the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Until then, we must hold the minimum number of nuclear warheads necessary to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent. In 2010, the Government stated an intent to reduce our overall nuclear warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid-2020s. However, in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats, this is no longer possible, and the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads.
I would also like to reiterate that the Government’s position on Trident as the UK’s continuous at sea nuclear deterrent was overwhelming supported by Parliament in 2016. This vote was part of a wider programme to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent beyond the early 2030s, which will see the introduction of four Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarines to replace the current four Vanguard submarines - securing thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs in the UK.
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: While I am aware the Government does not intend to sign, ratify or become party to the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, I do want to reassure you that the UK is committed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
I firmly believe that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament, negotiated using a step-by-step approach, provided for under the NPT. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would threaten this ambition by comprehensively prohibiting participation in development, testing, production, acquisition, possession and storage of nuclear weapons. Given the unpredictable security environment we face, such a move would undoubtedly threaten our national security, and the collective security of our NATO allies.
The NPT, on the other hand, puts in place the structures to further the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last 50 years, it has minimised the proliferation of nuclear weapons, provided the framework to enable significant levels of nuclear disarmament and allowed states to develop secure and safe, peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It has also played a crucial role in providing the basis for discussions with Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP