CHRISTIANS CAMPAIGNING AGAINST NUCLEAR WEAPONS have expressed deep disappointment at the government’s announcement that the number of nuclear warheads held by the UK is to be increased by almost 50 per cent, the first increase for decades.

The UK currently has around 180 nuclear warheads, stored in Coulport in Scotland when not deployed on submarines, with each one around eight times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The number of warheads the UK holds has been decreasing since its peak of around 500 at the end of the Cold War. The last Strategic Defence and Security Review, which was published in 2015, suggested that the number of stockpiled warheads would be capped at 180 by the mid 2020s and no more than 120 should be operational.

The Integrated Review of Defence and Foreign Policy, published on 16 March 2021, states that the planned cap is no longer achievable due to “the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats”.

The decision to increase the number of warheads is against the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which the UK is a member. It also comes at a time when 130 states have expressed support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into law on Friday 22 January 2021. Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty requires each state party to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”

Rebecca Dillon, Co-Chair of the Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “The announcement by the government to reverse decades worth of reductions in the number of nuclear warheads stockpiled by the UK is deeply worrying. At a time when the UK is involved in efforts to dissuade other states from pursuing a nuclear weapons programme this will doubtless be seen as a provocative move which could lead to other states also increasing their stockpiles. The UK needs to join other states in seeking genuine peace through cooperation and friendship, not continuously threatening mass destruction.

“The Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament shares the deep concerns of many in the UK and around the world about these reports and we hope that the government will have a change of heart. We urge all like-minded people to join us in prayer for our leaders and their decision making.”

* Read Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy here.

* Source: Christian CND