I have received a number of emails asking about my position concerning the United Kingdom’s independent nuclear deterrent and the Successor submarine programme.
As you know, the Government held a debate in Parliament on the principle of continuous-at-sea deterrence and their plans for the Successor programme to replace the current Vanguard class of nuclear submarines.
I support international efforts toward multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and I would like to see greater progress toward a world without nuclear weapons. Indeed, I am very proud of the huge progress made under the previous Labour Government in nuclear disarmament through international frameworks. This saw the number of operationally available warheads almost halved, and the number of deployed warheads on each submarine reduced.
These efforts also resulted in the UK becoming the only recognised nuclear-armed Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) country to possess just one nuclear system, when the WE-177 freefall tactical nuclear weapons were withdrawn in 1998. This was important action towards multilateral nuclear disarmament and I hope the current Government will ensure that Britain continues to play a leading role in moves toward this ultimate goal.
Indeed, the UK now possess approximately 1% of the total global stockpile of nuclear weapons amongst recognised nuclear weapons states, and by the mid-2020s the UK is scheduled to have achieved a 65% reduction in the size of its overall nuclear stockpile from Cold War levels. This would make the UK the smallest of all the NPT nuclear weapon states.
I am not convinced that renewing Trident is the best option for the UK’s defence; our responsibility for non-proliferation; and cost effectiveness.
I welcome an open and inclusive debate on these important issues and I can assure you that I will bear in mind the points that have been raised with me.