UK Trident

In 2007, despite nuclear disarmament commitments undertaken through the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the UK’s Labour government decided to ensure British possession of nuclear weapons through to the 2050s by ordering the procurement of a replacement fleet of up to 4 new submarines to carry an updated version of the current Trident nuclear weapons system. In 2010, following a rushed ‘Strategic Defence and Security Review’ (SDSR) by the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, it was decided that the Main Gate decision on the acquisition plans and number of submarines would be delayed until 2016. Nevertheless, billions of pounds continue to be spent on further research on warheads, including refurbishing facilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield and upgrading design and testing facilities at AWE Aldermaston (including a new ‘Orion’ laser and supercomputer). In 2011 it was revealed that millions of pounds have been spent on a new uranium enrichment facility at Aldermaston, while spending on aspects of the submarine programme has also been given the go ahead, well in advance of any Main Gate decision by the next parliament in 2016.

The Acronym Institute published an in depth analysis of the roles and options relating to UK nuclear weapons in the context of Britain’s security, legal and international priorities in our 2006 report “Worse than Irrelevant: Britain’s Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century”. This provided discussion of the political and technical questions facing decision-makers, and called for a comprehensive security and defence review, noting that the choice would have significant budgetary, security and proliferation ramifications for Britain and the international non-proliferation regime in the future. Since then, we have worked with others to produce timely briefings on UK nuclear weapons policy. These, coupled with our own publications and meetings in parliament and involvement in high profile public debates, ensure that the Acronym Institute remains at the forefront of questioning the utility and relevance of nuclear weapons for Britain’s security.

More information on Trident and UK nuclear weapons policy, including links to the latest news, plus articles and analyses from the Acronym Institute, can be found on the main UK page in the Directory, with further details on the Trident and Scotland/Faslane pages.

Trident Related Content

1 November 2015

Scottish Labour party delegates have backed a vote to scrap the UK's Trident nuclear missile system, which is based at Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

A motion at the party's conference in Perth calling for the system not to be renewed was supported by an overwhelming majority....

28 January 2015

Read about the latest political activity around nuclear weapons in the UK, including the Opposition Day Debate about Trident replacement.

Parliamentary update: Nuclear Weapons Policy Liaison Group, 5th - 26th January 2015

This parliamentary update is also...
15 January 2013

The Winter 2012-2013 edition of Proliferation in Parliament offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation.  It is published in January 2013 following the Christmas...