Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced via a written statement to parliament that the UK will be developing a replacement warhead while continuing to maintain its existing nuclear warheads until they are decommissioned. The development of the new warheads was spurred by the need to respond to new threats in a changing security environment, the defence secretary said.
"We will maintain our Trident nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our security. To ensure the government maintains an effective deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarine we are replacing our existing nuclear warheads to respond to future threats and the security environment", Wallace stated.
Wallace said to the parliament that highly skilled teams will be formed in close coordination between the Ministry of Defence’s Nuclear Organisation and the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment to develop the new weapon. The defence secretary added that the teams will also collaborate with the US to ensure that the new warhead stays compatible with the Trident Strategic Weapon Systems.
The move comes as part of a 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which outlined the UK's strategy of maintaining an independent minimum credible deterrent in the form of nuclear weapons. The stance was adopted as a result of the 2007 government decision supported by a parliamentary vote to uphold the country's nuclear deterrents beyond the early 2030s.