The UK is overturning a previous pledge to reduce the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile to 180 warheads by the mid-2020s, lifting the cap instead to as many as 260.

The 100-page Integrated Review document sets out the UK’s national security and foreign policy approach.

The following is an excerpt from the document.

“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.

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.

To ensure that our deterrent is not vulnerable to pre-emptive action by potential
adversaries, we will maintain our four submarines so that at least one will always be on a
Continuous At Sea Deterrent patrol. Our submarines on patrol are at several days’ notice
to fire and, since 1994, we do not target our missiles at any state. We remain committed
to maintaining the minimum destructive power needed to guarantee that the UK’s nuclear
deterrent remains credible and effective against the full range of state nuclear threats
from any direction.

We will continue to keep our nuclear posture under constant review in light of the international security environment and the actions of potential adversaries. We will maintain the capability required to impose costs on an adversary that would far outweigh the benefits they could hope to achieve should they threaten our, or our Allies’, security.”

UK nuclear weapons policy, according to the Integrated Review is as follows:

“The UK’s nuclear weapons are operationally independent and only the Prime Minister can
authorise their use. This ensures that political control is maintained at all times. We would
consider using our nuclear weapons only in extreme circumstances of self-defence,
including the defence of our NATO Allies.”

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BB85

As I said on a previous thread, a surprising update to make as part of the review. It will basically steel the headlines and prob not in a good way as labour will argue immediately the money could be used on nurses salaries. This submarine budget really is costing a fortune though. If it is mostly going to the US as well are we getting a lot of industrial benefit out of it. I know a TLAM would not be anywhere near as effective as an icbm but would it have been enough to act as a deterent plus some… Read more »

dave12

Well to be honest Labour were just arguing in parliament against more cuts in numbers to armed forces and for Boris to come out now and confirm in which he totally ignored that point in his reply. Why more nukes and decreased numbers in are armed forces while stretching them in a new Asia influence policy is a good thing?? can any one explain to me why this is a good thing ?

AJP1960

Increasing nuke availability means that we could probably surge 2 fully armed missile subs should the need arise

David Flandry

That is independent of the number of total nuclear weapons. The number of SSBNs will still be 4. More SSNs are still needed.

Dave Wolfy

We can now.

Peter S

It is a huge budget- 25% of the £200 b on submarines. Overall there is probably a higher UK content in these programmes than in many others: RR reactors, Barrow built boats, UK built warheads, torpedoes, sensors.
Compare that with Type 31:
* Danish design
* Dutch combat management system
* German engines
* Swedish guns.

Watcherzero

Though the German engine company and the Swedish gun company are both owned by British Companies.
BAE owns Bofors and Rolls Royce Engines owns MTU.

BB85

BAE and RR are listed companies and likely more US owned than UK owned these days. They are just HQ’d in the UK, I would rather we where designing and building more of the equipment in the UK rather than final assembly in a forklift factory somewhere.

farouk

Brilliant news from the fat B in number 10. Tear up a plan to reduce nukes to 180 warheads , which will simply feed the anti Uk crowd in Scotland at a time when the numbers wanting to leave has actually fallen . I mean lets be serious 10 nukes, 100 nukes 200 nukes, it doesn’t matter, if we resort to use them , then somebody else has before us and we are all brown bread. All I see here is the fat B in power using nukes to cover the military cuts he and his tory pigs in power… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by farouk
dave12

Well said my concerns exactly.

RobW

I don’t get it. Even 180 is too many really as in the event of any Nuke war we will only ever be able to deploy those already on the CASD.

LordSpam

I suspect its more based around building up enough of the replacement warheads before retiring some of the Trident Mk4a’s. Wouldn’t be surprised once they are all gone the numbers will be back around at 180 again.

Dan

That would make sense, otherwise the UK might be seen as going back on our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Investing in more nuclear capability also seems like an odd priority when the money might be better spent building back the strength of our conventional forces.

Andrew

This does seem a bit odd to me to Dan the money on Nucs ,would have been better on more conventional forces or up grade ECT and maybe save on cuts what are due.

Jan van der Werk

One thing people must learn about Boris speke is it is all a convoluted lie. Every sentence contains plausible deniability, ten get-out clauses and a get out of gaol card. We do not need an increase in warheads. This is just part of the gloss on his “vision”.

Dave Wolfy

He is a politician, it is what they do.
Boris is not special.
If you want a liar, Bliar went to war on a lie.
Wake me up when Boris does that.

Watcherzero

I think its actually a recognition of better ABM systems, even with improvements in decoys and delivery vehicles the next generation of Trident will enjoy there will still be fewer warheads getting through which needs a higher number initially launched to compensate.

Rob

Surely the difference between 180 thermonuclear warheads & 260 is the difference between killing everyone twice or three times and offers very marginal extra deterrence? Surely the money would be better spent on the cash strapped conventional forces? Honestly I don’t get it so if someone could explain…

Mark B

I’m not sure anyone knows or they aren’t telling. We will perhaps have to wait and see.

Lordtemplar

So far according to Bojo, Global Britain = buying more US Trident?
Not sure i see the added benefit to deterrence of having 260 vs 180 Trident based warheads with a fleet of 4 SSBN (when 1 sub, maybe 2, are on patrol at any given time). Is there a plan to build more Dreadnoughts? Otherwise that money could have been better spent in other areas.

Last edited 9 days ago by Lordtemplar
Watcherzero

Its putting more warheads in the missiles. Each Trident missile normally carries around 14-16 re-entry vehicles but most of them are decoys with UK missiles only carrying 5 nuclear warheads usually.

Last edited 9 days ago by Watcherzero
Lordtemplar

No they do not carry that many warheads. FYI Trident II D5 in theory can carry up to 12 warheads, but is much lower in reality. New START treaty (valid until 2026) limits it to 8 warheads. In fact US only has 288 Trident missiles and 1,152 warheads (W76 & W88), which is a ratio of about 4 warheads per missile. On a side note this ratio is coherent with the SORT agreement which expired in 2011. Having 260 warheads utility is highly questionnable, since only 1 sub is on patrol duties (16 Trident x 8 warheads = 128 warheads).… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Lordtemplar
James M

Technically New START (along with all the other treaties like SALT I and II, START I, SORT) doesn’t apply to us, but as the Trident’s are pooled with the US, any hard limitations on warhead numbers would by default impact us. The US usually only fits 4 W88 warheads to comply with the treaty, which limits the number of deployed warheads, rather than the number of warheads per missile. This is due to their strategic calculations, and AFAIK there’s nothing stopping them deploying with all 8 warheads per missile. The RN’s warhead is allegedly based on W76-1, and if they’re… Read more »

Watcherzero

Indeed it limits the number of deployed warheads defined as those fitted inside ballistic missiles or are air droppable. It doesnt limit the stockpile of warheads. You are allowed to have a higher number of nuclear warheads in storage than the treaty stipulates as long as they are not in a deployable form. Russia for example has thousands more warheads than it has weapons to put them in.

The UK isnt a signature to any arms limitation treaties only the NPT, its made a commitment to the principle of the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons but not unilaterally.

Peter S

I’m not sure why this needed to be announced at all. There is no international obligation for the UK to cap at any number. There was a plan under Cameron to reduce the stockpile to 180 so this is a change of a previous published decision. There is no indication of any change in the plan for a Dreadnought to deploy with more than 8 of its 12 tubes loaded and a max of 40 warheads. If that is the case, the reasons are probably to do with maintaining and upgrading the stockpile over time. Costs already in the 10… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I see this differently.

If the existing are being upgraded to a new version and they are rotated south from Coulport to Aldermaston ( where components are made ) and Burghfield ( where they are actually assembled ) then a temporary expansion seems sensible to maintain numbers while potentially more than usual are undergoing the upgrade and unavailable.

Rogbob

But why not just say that if it’s the case?

Why risk flashing the issue, unless that is the aim (stir the pot in Labour, PR spin of a “vision”).

John Hartley

Back in early 1950s austerity Britain, planners though 200 warheads was the minimum credible number, for a nuclear power. At our cold war height, the UK had high 300s to 600 nuclear warheads, depending on which source you read. Many of them were Red Snow, megaton class. Our current Trident W76 have only a tenth of their power. When Mrs T was planning Trident in the 80s, it was thought 8X warheads per missile, 16x missiles per boat, 4x boats= 512 x 100kt warheads. Between the end of the cold war & Blair, numbers came way down to 120. In… Read more »

Steve

I really don’t get this. We don’t need more missiles to have a viable deference. The only vaguely logical reason is that there is a fear that with modern ballistic defences that trident isn’t guaranteed to get through and so need to launch more of them, but that has some serious consequences and raises a number of questions around the cost of maintaining trident if its no longer guaranteed.

John Hartley

Or develop the Mk 500 Evader that would have been fitted to Trident, but got canned because of the end of the cold war.

James

Im sure its an increase in warheads available not actually more missiles as such or am I reading it wrong?

Rogbob

I think its purely political. Labour will continue to tear itself apart with CND on the Left and Starmer having to reflect the sensible/people arent bothered and that Boris’s logic will pass with the man in the street. It’s also something out of left field which is Boris’s way, distraction/diversion. Whilst the reat of the review is going to be pretty much the same old thing, cuts/jam tomorrow/reorganisations etc. I cant see the reason for it strategically, having some nukes ready to go seems very little difference to having some+%. Of course, as Clauswitz said, “politics is war by other… Read more »

Rogbob

Or rather, “war is politics by other means”, but I guess it works both ways!

Rob

And how. Do we persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium if we increase our stockpiles ? Bonkers.

Matt C

It is interesting to see the same voices here saying there is no need to increase nuclear warheads, who also complain about the lack of anti-ship missiles deployed by the average RN escort. Applying the argument for one to the other, one might argue that there is no need for more than 2 or 3 anti-ship missiles because that number would be sufficient to destroy an enemy warship, hence there is no need to kill it “two or three times over”. Because of course, technological developments in ballistic missile defence has remained oh-so-stagnant while anti-ship missile defence has grown by… Read more »

Martyn Parker

I think the increase in warhead numbers will mean that the trident missiles will be loaded with their full complement of warheads as a hedge against ballistic missile defences. as I understand it and I am happy to be corrected the missiles are not currently loaded with their full complement

Peter S

I think I have found part of the answer. In giving evidence to the defence select committee, Stephen Lovegrove pointed out that responding to enemy use of a battlefield nuke with a Trident strike would not be proportionate. It seems likely that to address this, we will hold more low yield warheads. I understand that some dial down yield warheads have been available in recent years but this may go further.
Interesting fact check on worldwide warhead stocks on the BBC website.

Steve

I can’t see it. If a war goes nuclear, its the end of the world as the other nation would retaliate and things would rapidly scale out of control. Low yield warheads are realistically pointless, if your going nuclear you need to do it in such a large way that the other nation can not respond, which means going big.

John Hartley

In some situations you would be right, in others wrong. It is a bit like anti-ship missiles, if both sides have them, then both fleets will avoid each other & the missiles will not be used. Same with nuclear deterrence. If one side has strategic & tactical warheads, but knows the other side has only strategic warheads, it may gamble on using one or two tactical nukes, knowing the other side will not want to commit its strategic deterrent. If both sides have tactical nukes, then chances are that neither side will risk using them, knowing the other side would… Read more »

Steve

I understand the logic but don’t agree with the conclusion. If a tactical nuke is used, the damage and negative consequences from the radiation would be so extreme that the other side would be under massive pressure to use retaliate and that would mean strategic. To me nukes are the end game, if you have decided to go down that route no matter how small, you will be expecting the other side to go full out on you. Really only thing nukes do is stop other nuclear nations using theirs as leverage on you. This is why the US is… Read more »

James M

As far as I can work out from the very limited public info, Holbrook is dial-a-yield by default, between 0.3 and 100kt. W76 has the retired -0 100kt version, the -1 at 90kt, and the -2 at 5-7kt. The bigger problem is the delivery system. If Putin or Xi Jinping uses a 3kt tactical weapon to wipe out a formation, and we launch an SLBM to respond, he’s not going to wait and see if it’s got a .3kt yield or a 100kt yield. Tactical nuclear weapons really need to be completely separate systems (such as a gravity bomb or… Read more »

Rogbob

Quite, a desire to have a sub-strategic capability requires a non SLBM platform. There is no indication that’s the case.

Else as you say, a Trident with a low yield single warhead looks exactly the same as a MIRV of high yield ones until it’s too late. I cant imagine we’d fire that at anyone nuclear armed for obvious escalation/retaliation.

Since anyone else (non nuclear is already) covered by what we do have, its hard to see any benefits from all this.

John Hartley

If a country has a radar capable of spotting incoming SLBM, then it will spot the difference between one & many. If it is many, they will retaliate immediately. If it is one missile, & not aimed at their capitol, I suspect they would wait & see. It is what happened once in Russia. The computer misidentified a flock of birds for an incoming missile. Luckily the Russian operator figured a surprise American attack would not be so limited, so he waited, rather than hitting the panic button. Sensible people on both sides have prevented disaster over the last six… Read more »

David Flandry

Probably a few more nukes wouldn’t hurt, but more aircraft, soldiers, and ships are needed more.

Stevethemanc

Something is going on here, I fear a war is looming, my suspicion began when we ordered the two QE11 class carriers.

Christopher Allen

Stupid decision. Logically, Trident us becoming unbearably expensive. Should have proposed to look to cheaper alternatives that would allow the missiles to be moved away from Scotland.

Ewiak Ryszard

As you can see, the world is preparing for a global nuclear war. The Book of Revelation warns: “Another came out, a fiery-colored horse, and it was granted to the one seated on it to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another, and he was given a great sword.” (6:4) This time it will be a world war not only by name. The “great sword” will also be used. Jesus characterized him in this way: “A frightening things both and extraordinary (related to unusual phenomena) from sky powerful will be.” (Luke 21:11) Some ancient… Read more »