U.S.-British Talks Spotlight Uncertainty in Both Nuclear Arsenals

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 2, 2014, 10:35 a.m.

The United King­dom’s nuc­le­ar weapons ar­sen­al is cru­cially de­pend­ent on U.S. ac­tions, as a key bi­lat­er­al agree­ment is up for re­new­al, re­ports the Lon­don Guard­i­an.

At is­sue is the so-called Mu­tu­al De­fense Agree­ment, first signed in 1958. Work on the latest ex­ten­sion of the pact was on­go­ing on both sides of the At­lantic as of earli­er this year, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per’s De­fence and Se­cur­ity Blog. The agree­ment is key be­cause it en­ables the Brit­ish mil­it­ary to take ad­vant­age of nuc­le­ar-weapons work con­duc­ted in the United States, in­clud­ing the shar­ing of data, test res­ults and the use of U.S. test fa­cil­it­ies.

Brit­ish politi­cians have pre­vi­ously as­sured the pub­lic that the coun­try’s stock­pile of Tri­dent war­heads is re­li­able for an­oth­er two dec­ades or so. However, the blog quotes a Roy­al United Ser­vices In­sti­tute re­port con­clud­ing that “a lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of war­head aging” makes pre­cise es­tim­ates dif­fi­cult.

In es­sence, the U.K. ar­sen­al “will de­pend more upon ex­tern­al rather than in­tern­al factors,” the Lon­don-based think tank’s ana­lys­is con­cludes.

“Chief amongst these ex­tern­al factors will be the U.S. war­head pro­gram, which provides many key com­pon­ents of the U.K. ar­sen­al,” ac­cord­ing to the think tank.

In oth­er words, how the U.S. nuc­le­ar com­plex pro­ceeds in main­tain­ing and mod­ern­iz­ing Wash­ing­ton’s ar­sen­al could af­fect the U.K. de­terrent force.

“The U.K. may have no more luck pre­dict­ing the fu­ture of the U.S. pro­gram than it does the re­li­ab­il­ity of its own ar­sen­al,” the think tank re­port reads. “The U.S. pro­gram is cur­rently in flux, and is likely to re­main so for the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

Re­pla­cing the war­heads would take roughly 17 years and cost the equi­val­ent of ap­prox­im­ately $6.65 bil­lion at today’s prices, ac­cord­ing to the Guard­i­an art­icle. Bri­tain plans to re­duce its stock­pile of 225 Tri­dent war­heads to 180 or less, with up to 120 op­er­a­tion­ally avail­able for the coun­try’s Van­guard sub­mar­ine fleet, the blog quotes a 2010 Stra­tegic De­fence and Se­cur­ity Re­view as say­ing.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
History Already Being Less Kind to Hastert’s Leadership
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

In light of his recent confessions, the speakership of Dennis Hastert is being judged far more harshly. The New York Times' Carl Hulse notes that in hindsight, Hastert now "fares poorly" on a number of fronts, from his handling of the Mark Foley page scandal to "an explosion" of earmarks to the weakening of committee chairmen. "Even his namesake Hastert rule—the informal standard that no legislation should be brought to a vote without the support of a majority of the majority — has come to be seen as a structural barrier to compromise."

Source:
‘STARTING FROM ZERO’
Trump Ill Prepared for General Election
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Even if "[t]he Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights ... Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election. The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign."

Source:
27TH AMENDMENT
Congress Can’t Seem Not to Pay Itself
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Far Away from Cleveland is the California GOP Staying?
5 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."

ATTORNEY MAY RELEASE THEM ANYWAY
SCOTUS Will Not Allow ‘DC Madam’ Phone Records to Be Released
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."

Source:
×