Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce Tuesday that the United Kingdom will raise by “more than 40%” the ceiling of nuclear warheads it is authorized to store, revealed Monday evening two British media. Downing Street said in a statement that Boris Johnson will deliver the findings of a report on the country’s defense, security and foreign policy to Parliament on Tuesday, which will determine the government’s line for the coming decade.
According to the Guardian and the Sun, who were able to consult this hundred-page document, the government plans to raise to 260 the maximum number of warheads that the country is authorized to store, after having previously committed to reducing its stock to 180 warheads. here the mid-2020s.
Dealing with the threat of a terrorist CBRN attack
According to the British media, Downing Street invokes a “growing panoply of technological and doctrinal threats” to justify this change of course, unprecedented since the Cold War.
The report warns of the “realistic possibility” that a terrorist group “will succeed in launching a CBRN attack. [chimique, biologique, radiologique ou nucléaire] by 2030 ”, but also against the“ active threat ”and the“ systemic challenge ”represented by Russia and China respectively.
“Minimal, credible and independent nuclear deterrence dedicated to NATO defense remains essential to guarantee our security,” the report explains.
This turnaround comes as London seeks to reposition itself after Brexit as a major power on the international scene, according to the concept of “Global Britain”.
A “huge provocation on the world stage”
This change “would violate the commitments that (London) has made within the framework of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” the ICAN (International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons) denounced in a statement Monday. “The decision of the United Kingdom to increase its stock of weapons of mass destruction in the middle of a pandemic is irresponsible, dangerous and violates international law”, hammered Beatrice Fihn, the director of this NGO.
The Campaign for nuclear disarmament (CND) group sees it as a “first step towards a new nuclear arms race”, describing the UK’s decision as “a huge provocation on the world stage”.
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“As the world grapples with the pandemic and climate chaos, it is incredible that our government chooses to increase the British nuclear arsenal,” said Secretary General Kate Hudson, for whom “to stir up global tensions and waste our resources is an irresponsible and potentially disastrous approach ”.