London (dpa) – For the first time in decades of disarmament, the British government wants to be able to expand its nuclear arsenal again. This is evident from a document on the strategic realignment of the country after Brexit, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented in parliament.
According to this, the limit of the number of warheads previously planned by the middle of the decade will be increased from 180 to a maximum of 260. This is necessary to maintain a minimum of deterrence in the face of “the changing security environment, including a series of technological and ideological threats, ”he said.
How many nuclear warheads Britain currently has is not officially known. It is therefore unclear whether the UK will actually increase or decrease its arsenal less than previously planned. The Association of American Scientists FAS puts the UK arsenal (as of 2020) at 195, of which 120 are deployed. A government spokesman stressed that Britain’s obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty would not be affected by the adjustment. The nuclear deterrent capacity renewal is part of a £ 24 billion investment in the armed forces, Johnson said.
The government described the so-called “Integrated Review” as the most radical reassessment of Britain’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War. The aim of the project is to “make the UK stronger, safer and more prosperous,” said the British Prime Minister.
London also wants to align itself more geopolitically with Asia and the Pacific. By 2030, the UK government expects further development towards a multipolar world and a shift of focus to the Indo-Pacific region. This should be taken into account when the aircraft carrier “HMS Queen Elizabeth” is dispatched to the Pacific and Johnson’s voyage to India later this year. Also part of this strategy is the invitation from South Korea, Australia and India to the G7 summit, to be held in Cornwall, England in June, and the start of accession talks to the trans-Pacific trade agreement TPP.
China’s political system challenges the security, prosperity and values of Britain and its partners, whom they want to better meet in the future, it said. At the same time, they want to have a “positive trade and investment partnership with the country and work together on transnational challenges such as climate change.
Britain remains tied to NATO and what is known as the Secret Service’s “Five Eyes” collaboration with the English-speaking nations of the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, Johnson emphasized. In the Euro-Atlantic area, Russia is currently the “most acute threat,” the document says.
Russia responded promptly: Such announcements only confirmed Russia’s fears of NATO’s greater nuclear power potential, said State Duma Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, Leonid Slutsky, according to the Interfax agency.
London also continues to view the threat from terrorists as a major threat. According to the document, the UK government estimates a successful terrorist attack involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons by the year 2030 as a “realistic possibility”.
To counter this, an anti-terrorist center should be established, Johnson announced. A national cyber unit should be established in the northwest of England to conduct offensive operations against terrorists, states and criminal gangs. As a lesson from the pandemic, London also wants to create an intergovernmental situation center.