US Defense Officials Reveal UK's Trident Replacement Plan
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The US has leaked the British government's plan to buy a new generation of nuclear warheads to replace Trident.
The replacement will be based on US technology and the decision was revealed by Pentagon officials before the British government had announced it.
The last public news from the government about Trident was in December, when the Ministry of Defense said: "Work also continues to develop the evidence to support a government decision when replacing the warhead."
But earlier this month US defense officials confirmed their proposed W93 sea-launched warhead would share technology with the UK's next nuclear weapon.
Last week Admiral Charles Richard, commander of the US strategic command, told the Senate defense committee that there was a requirement for a new warhead, which would be called the W93 or Mk7.
He added: "This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom, whose nuclear deterrent plays an absolutely vital role in NATO's overall defense posture."
The news, reported in The Observer, implied that the decision had already been made before MPs were told.
The plans were also mentioned by a Pentagon under secretary of defense, Alan Shaffer, in US publication Defense Daily last week.
He had said: "It's wonderful that the UK is working on a new warhead at the same time", Sky News reported.
Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the newspaper: "It is totally unacceptable that the government seems to have given the green light to the development of new nuclear weapon technologies with zero consultation and zero scrutiny."
The Observer reported that the US had agreed with the UK not to make an announcement during parliamentary recess but US defense officials were unaware of this agreement.
The government committed to renewing the deterrent ahead of December's election, at an estimated cost of £31bn.
A MoD spokeswoman said: "As previously stated in the 2015 defense review, we can confirm that we are working towards replacing the warhead.
"We have a strong defense relationship with the US and will continue to remain compatible with the US Trident missile.
"An announcement about the UK's replacement warhead programme will be made in due course."
It January it was reported that the budget to maintain Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system had overrun by more than £1bn after the MoD failed to learn from past mistakes.
The National Audit Office also said poor management of the infrastructure to upgrade the MoD's four Vanguard-class submarines has meant delays of up to six years.