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UK government outlines future nuclear strategy

The UK government has released the Defence Nuclear Command Paper, detailing how the UK will maintain their nuclear deterrent, support the delivery of the SSN-AUKUS, and enhance nuclear power generation.

The UK government has released the Defence Nuclear Command Paper, detailing how the UK will maintain their nuclear deterrent, support the delivery of the SSN-AUKUS, and enhance nuclear power generation.

The report will be backed by billions of pounds in additional funding, including £31 billion earmarked for next-generation Dreadnought Class SSBNs to carry the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent.

The new Dreadnought Class is scheduled to enter service in the early 2030s.

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Releasing the document, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rubbished detractors, accusing them of believing “fiction” that the United Kingdom could thrive without a nuclear power industry.

“It is a dangerous fiction to believe we can live without nuclear power and our nuclear deterrent,” Prime Minister Sunak wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“This long-term investment will ensure the sector continues to keep us safe and secure long into the future.”

The extension of the UK’s submarine industry also includes £4 billion in funding for the delivery of the SSN-AUKUS.

To enable the delivery of the ambitious programs, the government committed to expanding nuclear skills in the United Kingdom with £763 million committed between government and industry to create 5,000 new apprenticeships over four years and quadruple the number of PhDs in the nuclear sector.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said that the UK’s nuclear deterrent is more important now than it has ever been.

“The threats facing the UK and our allies are increasing in scale, complexity and diversity, which is why our nuclear deterrent is as important now as it has ever been,” he said.

“This government has always been unequivocal in its support to the UK’s nuclear deterrence, which is foundational to our national security, but also brings huge employment and skills opportunities being realised right now across the country.”

The paper confirmed that the United Kingdom was still in the development of a new sovereign nuclear warhead, which originally passed Parliament in 2021. The UK’s Replacement Warhead Program is being delivered in parallel with the W93/Mk7 warhead program in the United States.

The paper comes as Secretary Shapps visits Australia for the AUKMIN Consultations.

As part of this year's AUKMIN, Australia and the United Kingdom will seek to identify new ways the two nations can continue grow and strengthen collaboration in key strategic areas of the partnership, both within the auspice of AUKUS and separate to that agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said, “I look forward to working with our United Kingdom counterparts this week to progress ambitious new initiatives to deepen our defence partnership.”

In addition to the AUKUS agreement, the two nations will also identify other avenues of cooperation and collaboration including defence, climate action and clean energy, cyber, and economic security.

Liam Garman

Liam Garman

Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Liam began his career as a speech writer at New South Wales Parliament before working for world leading campaigns and research agencies in Sydney and Auckland. Throughout his career, Liam has managed and executed international media and communications campaigns spanning politics, business, industrial relations and infrastructure. He’s since shifted his attention to researching and writing extensively on geopolitics and defence. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney and a Masters in Strategy and Security with Excellence from UNSW Canberra, with a thesis on post-truth, postmodernism and disinformation operations.
 
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