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UK To Increase Its Number Of Nuclear Warheads By 40%

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 16 Mar 2021 15:35
UK To Increase Its Number Of Nuclear Warheads By 40%US Navy/PA

Boris Johnson is expected to announce plans to lift the cap on the number of nuclear weapons the government can legally stockpile.

The prime minister is reported to be planning a 40% increase on the maximum number of nuclear warheads permitted – from 180 to 260 – in response to perceived threats from Russia and China.

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A leaked document, seen by The Guardian, details a hefty £10 billion rearmament plan due to the ‘realistic possibility’ that a terrorist organisation will ‘launch a successful chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack by 2030′.

Boris Johnson visits manufacturing facilities in the North EastPA Images

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the need to stockpile weapons is to ‘maintain a minimum credible level of deterrent’.

When asked why that was the case on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added, ‘Because it is the ultimate guarantee, the ultimate insurance policy against the worst threat from hostile states.’

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Speaking to ITV, Raab said the government was still committed eventually reaching a ‘nuclear-free world’ but said it is ‘also not naive about the threats we face’.

Only eight other countries throughout the world – Russia, the US, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea –are still in possession of nuclear warheads, only one of which is in Europe. As of January 2019, France was in possession of 300 nuclear warheads

Even with a higher sum of 260 warheads, the UK will still have far fewer than the likes of Russia, which is estimated to have 4,300, the United States with an estimated 3,800, and China, which is believed to have around 320.

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However, the power of the warheads is not to be underestimated, as each one of the UK’s warheads has an explosive power of around 100 kilotons. To put that into perspective, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had an explosive power of around 15.

Unsurprisingly, the plans have been met with some criticism, with many saying the government is at risk of starting a ‘new nuclear arms race’.

‘With the government strapped for cash, we don’t need grandiose, money-wasting spending on weapons of mass destruction,’ Kate Hudson, the general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, told The Guardian.

Boris JohnsonPA Images
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A spokesperson for the Scottish National Party has also spoken out against the ‘abhorrent’ plans.

‘Renewing Trident nuclear weapons was already a shameful and regressive decision, however, increasing the cap on the number of Trident weapons the UK can stockpile by more than 40% is nothing short of abhorrent,’ said Stewart McDonald, as per The Daily Record.

‘It speaks volumes of the Tory government’s spending priorities that it is intent on increasing its collection of weapons of mass destruction – which will sit and gather dust unless the UK has plans to indiscriminately wipe out entire populations – rather than address the serious challenges and inequalities in our society that have been further exposed by the pandemic.’

Boris Johnson is yet to speak publicly on the plans.

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: News, Boris Johnson, dominic raab, Now, UK

Credits

Guardian and 2 others
  1. Guardian

    Cap on Trident nuclear warhead stockpile to rise by more than 40%

  2. ITV News

    Lifting cap on nuclear weapons is 'ultimate insurance policy', says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

  3. Daily Record

    SNP outrage over Boris Johnson's plan to increase Trident nuclear missile stocks