Marquess of Lothian questions Government on nuclear weapons use risk

The Marquess of Lothian asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of reports that Renata Dwan, Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, warned on 21 May that the risk of nuclear weapons being used is at its highest since World War Two, and that the world should take this threat more seriously.”

Earl Howe, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence responded “Today’s security climate is challenging, with the threats faced by the United Kingdom increasing in scale, diversity and complexity. However, Her Majesty’s Government does not believe that the risk of nuclear war is greater today than it was during the Cold War.

While the operation of an independent, minimum, credible nuclear deterrent continues to be necessary to protect the United Kingdom from the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life, the UK has taken a number of unilateral actions that build confidence and reduce international tensions. Our negative security assurances, as set out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, are designed to give Non-Nuclear Weapons States in compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty confidence that nuclear weapons will not be used against them. Further, since 1994, UK Trident missiles have not been targeted at any State; our Vanguard class submarines are at several days’ notice to fire; only the Prime Minister has the authority to launch nuclear weapons maintaining political control at all times; and the UK has been transparent about its nuclear capability, including missile and warhead numbers.

The Government is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and continues to work internationally, within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, towards achieving the conditions in which all nuclear weapons possessor states are willing to relinquish their nuclear weapons.”

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