| 15.5°C Belfast

Boris Johnson lifts cap on UK stockpile of nuclear warheads

The Government’s Integrated Review of foreign and defence policy says Russia is an ‘active threat’ to UK interests.

Close

The Government is to lift the cap on the UK’s stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads (Lockheed Martin/MoD/PA)

The Government is to lift the cap on the UK’s stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads (Lockheed Martin/MoD/PA)

The Government is to lift the cap on the UK’s stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads (Lockheed Martin/MoD/PA)

Boris Johnson is set to raise the cap on Britain’s stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads ending three decades of gradual disarmament, it has been reported.

The Government’s Integrated Review of security, defence, development and foreign policy will increase limit from 180 to 260 warheads, according a leaked copy obtained by the Guardian.

The paper said that it paves the way for a £10 billion rearmament in response to perceived threats from Russia and China.

Close

The cap on Britain’s stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads will reportedly be raised (James Glossop/The Times/PA)

The cap on Britain’s stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads will reportedly be raised (James Glossop/The Times/PA)

PA

The cap on Britain’s stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads will reportedly be raised (James Glossop/The Times/PA)

Elsewhere the review is said to warn there is a “realistic possibility” that a terrorist group will launch a successful chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attack by 2030.

The Prime Minister will set out the findings of the year-long survey – billed as the most radical reassessment of Britain’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War – in the Commons on Tuesday.

It is expected to include the creation of a new state-of-the-art counter-terrorism operations centre to streamline the response of police and the intelligence agencies in the event of an attack.

The will also be a new “situation centre” in the Cabinet Office similar to the White House situation room where Barack Obama was able to watch the US special forces operation to kill Osama bin Laden in real time.

Close

The Prime Minister will set out the findings of the year-long survey in the Commons on Tuesday (Peter Morrison/PA)

The Prime Minister will set out the findings of the year-long survey in the Commons on Tuesday (Peter Morrison/PA)

PA

The Prime Minister will set out the findings of the year-long survey in the Commons on Tuesday (Peter Morrison/PA)

The 100-page document – entitled Global Britain in a Competitive Age – argues the increase in nuclear warheads cap is “in recognition of the evolving security environment” and the “developing range of technological and doctrinal threats,” the Guardian said.

“A minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent, assigned to the defence of Nato, remains essential in order to guarantee our security and that of our allies,” the review says.

The review states that Russia under Vladimir Putin represents an “active threat” however the language on China is more measured, saying Beijing poses a “systemic challenge”.

According to The Times, which has also obtained a leaked copy of the review, it says the UK will “not hesitate” to defend its values and will increase the protection of critical infrastructure, such as the national grid, transport and water supplies.

However in a section likely to alarm Tory hawks on China is also argues that the UK will need to pursue a positive economic relationship including “deeper trade links and more Chinese investment”.

Elsewhere, it marks a strategic “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region, reflecting the view of ministers that it is increasingly becoming the “geopolitical centre of the world”.

The shift will be underlined by the deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group to the region on its maiden operational mission later this year.

It is also said to include a personal commitment from the Prime Minister to to restore foreign aid spending to 0.7% of national income “when the fiscal situation allows” following furious criticism of cuts to support for Yemen and other countries.

In a Commons statement, Mr Johnson is expected to argue that while Nato remains the bedrock of UK security in the Euro-Atlantic region, the country can no longer rely on an “increasingly outdated international” to protect its interests.

I am profoundly optimistic about the UK’s place in the world and our ability to seize the opportunities aheadBoris Johnson

At a time when some countries are seeking to undermine the open and liberal international order which emerged following the Cold War, he is expected to say the UK needs to use “all the tools at our disposal” to ensure a world where democracies can still flourish.

He is expected to tell MPs: “I am profoundly optimistic about the UK’s place in the world and our ability to seize the opportunities ahead.

“The ingenuity of our citizens and the strength of our Union will combine with our international partnerships, modernised armed forces and a new green agenda, enabling us to look forward with confidence as we shape the world of the future.”

The publication comes after the Prime Minister announced in November a £16.5 billion increase in defence spending over the next four years focusing on the future battlefields of space and cyber.

However, military chiefs have made clear the investment in new technologies will mean cuts to some “industrial age” capabilities to be set out in further paper by the Ministry of Defence next week .

The Army is expected to be the biggest loser with troop numbers expected to be slashed by more than 10,000, while its fleet of Challenger 2 main battle tanks is expected to be reduced by a third and the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle retired altogether.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required


Top Videos



Privacy