The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is reported to be considering a proposal to scrap a quarter of the nuclear warheads owned by the British government.
The news follows ongoing public pressure for cuts to the UK’s nuclear arsenal in the light of similar moves by the Presidents of the USA and Russia.
Media reports today (12 October) suggest that Brown is likely to reduce the number of warheads from 160 to 120. A decision is expected to be made in December, when the government will also reach a conclusion on reducing the number of Trident nuclear submarines from four to three.
A string of opinion polls in recent months have shown that the majority of the British public are opposed to the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. This position is backed by a number of churches, faith groups, NGOs and trades unions.
The government has also come under international pressure to make signifcant cuts prior to the conference to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) strongly urged Brown to go ahead with the proposal.
“Making the cut before the crucial non-proliferation and disarmament talks in the spring would be a real boost to efforts to reduce and then rid the world of these most awful of weapons” said CND’s chair Kate Hudson.
“A British initiative would pile pressure on other nuclear states to follow suit” she added, “If serious momentum can be built before the review of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May then the chances of a breakthrough deal there are greatly increased”.
However, she emphasised that the biggest contribution that the British government could make would be to scrap the Trident system and its replacement all together.
Campaigners suggest that such a move would free up tens of billions of pounds for socially useful spending, such as on health, education, housing and transport, currently under threat due to cutbacks during the recession.