Britain is set to reverse its previous policy to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons and instead plans to increase the number of nuclear warheads to 260, the British government announced on Tuesday.
The latest development came as Britain on Tuesday published the 114-page Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy titled “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”, the Xinhua news agency reported.
“In 2010 the Government stated an intent to reduce our overall nuclear warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid-2020s. However, in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats, this is no longer possible, and the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads,” said the review published on the government’s website.
David Cullen, director of the Nuclear Information Service, an independent and not-for-profit research organization, earlier described the move as “highly provocative” if confirmed.
“The UK has repeatedly pointed to its reducing warhead stockpile as evidence that it is fulfilling its legal duties under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” Cullen told media.
“If they are tearing up decades of progress in reducing numbers, it will be a slap in the face to the 190 other members of the treaty, and will be regarded as a shocking breach of faith,” he said.
The policy review said: “We remain committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. We continue to work for the preservation and strengthening of effective arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation measures, taking into account the prevailing security environment.”
“We will continue to keep our nuclear posture under constant review in light of the international security environment and the actions of potential adversaries,” it added.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which opened for signature in 1968 and entered into force in 1970, is the only treaty that contains legally-binding commitments to pursuing nuclear disarmament. A total of 191 states, including Britain, have joined the treaty.