United Kingdom

United Kingdom WMD Stats


The United Kingdom is party to all major nonproliferation treaties and is a member of all major international export control regimes. The British government has made substantial reductions in its nuclear forces, partly due to changes in response to its July 1998 Strategic Defence Review. Though it once possessed biological and chemical warfare programs, London ended both programs in the mid-50s. Its limited missile program is now composed entirely of sea-launched missiles.


  • Biological: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of biological weapons of mass destruction
  • Chemical: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of chemical weapons of mass destruction
  • Missile: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of missile weapons of mass destruction
  • Nuclear: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of nuclear weapons
Biological Under its former biological warfare program (1936-1956), the United Kingdom weaponized anthrax and conducted research on the pathogens that cause plague and typhoid fever, as well as botulinum toxin. The United Kingdom no longer has an offensive biological weapons program, although its defensive biological program is strong. On March 28, 2005, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia issued a joint statement in affirmation of their support for the BTWC and called on all remaining countries not party to the BWC to implement and comply with the pact. London ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in March 1975. 2005
Chemical The United Kingdom's World War II stockpile of chemical warfare (CW) agents included phosgene, mustard gas, and lewisite. However, the United Kingdom renounced its chemical weapons program in 1957 and subsequently destroyed its chemical stockpiles. The United Kingdom formally backed the U.S.-initiated Proliferation Security Initiative in 2004 and has participated in joint exercises to practice intercepting and boarding ships engaged in weapons proliferation, including chemical weapons. In addition, the United Kingdom continues to give monetary assistance to Moscow for the dismantlement of Russia's chemical weapons stockpile. Britain ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in May 1996. 2004
Missile The United Kingdom's sole nuclear deterrent is based on four new Vanguard-class submarines, each outfitted to carry 16 U.S.-supplied Trident II sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and 48 warheads. Britain shares a pool of missiles with the United States at the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic, Kings Bay Submarine Base, Georgia. The Royal Navy retrieves missiles from the U.S. storage area and places warheads on the missiles onboard. Missiles are serviced by the United States. Although Britain has title to 58 SLBMs, it technically does not own them. The nuclear role of Britain's Tornado aircraft was terminated in 1998, bringing to an end a four-decade history of Royal Air Force aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. In 2004, British and U.S. officials conducted negotiations concerning the development of new "mini-nukes" to replace Britain's aging Trident system, a politically sensitive subject in the country. 2004
Nuclear The United Kingdom is a nuclear weapon state party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The UK's current stockpile is thought to consist of less than 200 strategic and "sub-strategic" warheads on Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The Strategic Defense Review of July 1998 called for major changes in the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons program. Air-delivered weapons were removed from service, leaving the SSBNs as the United Kingdom's only nuclear deterrent. The Review mandated that only one submarine be on patrol at a time, with its missiles detargeted and with a reduced number of warheads (maximum of 48). On May 1, 2004, the Nuclear Safeguards Act went into effect in the United Kingdom, providing necessary legislation for the enforcement of the "additional protocol" designed to provide greater protection against nuclear non-proliferation. This protocol built on existing nuclear safeguards agreements with the IAEA. The United Kingdom ratified the NPT in November 1968 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in June 1998. 2004


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