The US navy has confirmed that faulty welding has been discovered in several missile tubes set to be used as part of the UK’s new Dreadnought nuclear weapons-armed submarines – part of the Trident replacement programme. An investigation has been launched after 12 missile tubes were found to have problems. Production has now been halted.

While the US Navy maintained that this will not put their own nuclear weapons system at risk, it could not confirm there would not be delays in delivery to the UK, with a spokesman saying that ‘impacts to the delivery of missile tubes to the UK will be assessed upon completion of GDEB’s (contractor building the missile tubes) efforts to define and scope next steps’.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said, ‘We’re used to Ministry of Defence projects going over schedule and over-budget, but now there is a further complication as a result of problems in the US.

‘CND maintains that the Trident nuclear weapons system, and its planned replacement, is not truly independent. This situation makes it absolutely clear – not only do we lease the missiles from the US, we are also dependent on them for the missile compartments. It’s well overdue to debunk the myth of independence.

‘This news comes hard on the heels of the official reports of serious safety problems at AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield where the nuclear warheads are made. With the delays and over-runs in the missile compartment added to that, this is yet more evidence that nuclear weapons systems are just too dangerous to countenance’.