MoD confirms ‘parallel’ US-UK nuclear warhead replacement programme after it was first reported in the US

By Lamiat Sabin

THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed today that it has committed to a multibillion-pound replacement of Trident with nuclear warheads based on US technology.

A US commander had revealed the information in a testimony to the Senate, before ministers in Westminster made an official announcement or informed MPs.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) told the Star yesterday that the information revealed by Admiral Charles Richard to the Senate armed services committee is more proof that the “UK’s nuclear weapons system isn’t independent” and “depends on the supply of US nuclear warheads.”

CND added that Trident must be scrapped because dependency on US nuclear warheads rules out the British government developing independent foreign policies.

In his testimony to the Senate, Mr Richard said that a replacement warhead, which will be called W93 or Mk7, was needed in the US.

He wrote: “This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom whose nuclear deterrent plays an absolutely vital role in Nato’s overall defence posture.”

The plans were also referenced by a Pentagon under secretary of defence Alan Shaffer, who is reported to have said at the annual nuclear deterrence summit in Virginia: “It’s wonderful that the UK is working on a new warhead at the same time.”

The statements in the US were made on February 13. It is understood that the government has been unable to find the time to inform MPs as Parliament was in recess last week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has long backed the proposed replacement of Trident, which is estimated to cost £31 billion, and the Tories had committed to renewing it ahead of the election.

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An MoD spokeswoman said: “As previously stated in the 2015 defence review, we can confirm that we are working towards replacing the warhead.

“We have a strong defence relationship with the US and will continue to remain compatible with the US Trident missile.

“An announcement about the UK’s replacement warhead programme will be made in due course.”

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