Thank you for contacting me about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and Trident.
While the Government does not intend to sign, ratify or become party to the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, 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 costs of any increase in instability or incurred by an intensification of the threats to peace and security posed by hostile states would be huge, especially if an increase in the threat level led to conflict.
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. Nuclear power is seen by many as an essential part of the energy supply mix of the future. It has also played a crucial role in providing the basis for discussions with Iran and DPRK.
The UK Government has made significant progress in nuclear disarmament. The UK is the only country to have reduced its deterrent capability to a single nuclear weapon system and has reduced the requirement for its operationally available warheads.
On Trident specifically, although no state currently has both the intent and the capability to threaten the independence and integrity of the UK, given the unpredictable security environment we face, maintaining our nuclear deterrent remains crucial for our protection and defence.
Despite successes over recent decades in limiting the number of states with nuclear capabilities, we cannot rule out a major shift in the international security situation which would put us under grave threat. The Government’s policy, which was overwhelmingly supported by Parliament in 2016, is to maintain the Trident continuous at sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our safety. This is 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.
I am also aware that work is underway to replace the existing warheads, to ensure an effective nuclear deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought submarines. The Defence Nuclear Organisation is currently working with the Atomic Weapons Establishment to build the highly skilled teams and put in place the facilities and capabilities needed to deliver the replacement warhead, while also sustaining the current warhead until it is withdrawn from service.
I welcome the commitment to support the renewal of Trident with a fleet of four submarines. The nuclear deterrent protects all of the UK and scrapping it would dangerously weaken our collective security in an uncertain world.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP