The United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday the United Kingdom would grow its nuclear-warheads stockpile by more than 40 percent to ensure its security in a riskier worldwide environment and as it faces new technological threats.
Britain expressed its planning to replace its current nuclear-warheads with a new one that would operate throughout the lifespan of four new submarines being built and due to enter service in the early 2030s.
“Since we’re increasing our nuclear warheads by more than 40%, how could we possibly have any moral authority to speak out against it?”
Caroline Lucas MP challenges Boris Johnson over a plan to increase the UK’s nuclear capabilities by more than 40%. pic.twitter.com/QQfH2OFox2
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 16, 2021
Previously, the country had been reducing its nuclear-warheads stockpile, and in 2010, the government set a cap of 180 warheads for the mid-2020. Boris Johnson scrapped the earlier limit and stated the number would now rise to a maximum of 260.
The new goal seems to mark a profound shift away from U.K’s long commitment to nonproliferation. For decades now, U.K seemed content to reduce its aging nuclear arsenal, not bolster it.
The United Kingdom has around 200 nuclear warheads, and past Conservative Party governments had pledged to decrease the number to 180 by the mid-2020.
In its defense and security review, the United Kingdom said it faced risks from nuclear-equipped states, emerging nuclear-states, and state-sponsored nuclear terrorism, and its nuclear deterrent was required to guarantee its security and that of its allies.
Boris Johnson says U.K still committed to Global nuclear-arms reduction
The government stated some states are now significantly increasing and diversifying their nuclear arsenals. The administration added the rise in challenges to the international order, global competition, and proliferation of potentially disruptive technologies all pose a threat to planned stability.
The move received criticism by a group of former global policymakers who campaign for peace, ‘The Elders.’
Mary Robinson, chair of the group, said that while Britain cites increased security threats as justification for this action, the appropriate response to these challenges should be to work multilaterally to strengthen international weapons control agreements and to reduce, not increase, the number of nuclear warheads in existence.
When questioned over the policy in the parliament, Mr. Johnson expressed the commitment of Britain to global nuclear-arms reduction.
It would work with America to ensure the new nuclear warhead remains Trident-compatible.
U.K said it would stick to its existing policy of always having one submarine of its four atomic deterrent submarines on continuous patrol with its current submarines.
The general secretary of United Kingdom-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Kate Hudson, stated that this is no time to start a new nuclear-weapons-race. As the world wrestles with the epidemic and climate chaos, it beggars belief that their administration is opting to increase Britain’s nuclear arsenal.
Hudson noted that President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, agreed last month to further cut their nuclear arsenals by renewing the New START Treaty.