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Trident is being upgraded in secret, report claims

Categories: Articles:Nuclear Weapons | Published: 07/06/2016 | Views: 2232
Nuclear warhead is being made more destructive and more accurate while an entirely new one is being developed, say researchers
Work is under way in secret at Britain’s nuclear bomb factory to upgrade the existing Trident arsenal and to develop an entirely new warhead, according to a report from the Nuclear Information Service.  The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire is working on a programme to upgrade the current UK Trident warhead to produce the “Mark 4A”, which will be more accurate and have greater destructive power, the report says. The costs and timetable of the programme have not been revealed to parliament. (Richard Norton-Taylor

The modified, upgraded warhead is mentioned in a little-noticed letter on the Ministry of Defence website, dated 2 July 2014. In it, Jon Thompson, then top civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, confirms that Dr Paul Hollinshead had been appointed senior official responsible for the “nuclear warhead capability sustainment programme”.

The letter says Hollinshead will be responsible for “commencement of Mk4A production in accordance with the Trident Manufacture Plan”.

Tuesday’s report, published by Nuclear Information Service (NIS), an independent research body, says £85m has already been spent by the AWE on new nuclear warhead design studies.

The government later this year is expected to table a Commons motion in favour of replacing the existing fleet of Trident submarines with four new boats. The government says they will cost £31bn, but has set up a £10bn contingency fund in the event of overruns. Read more here
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