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Friends of US permitted to have Weapons of mass-destruction

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Tuesday April 08, 2003 11:12author by kokomero Report this post to the editors

The message is if you're Israel, India or Pakistan it's OK to have WMD. In fact you can even engage in a dangerous arms-race if you're India and Pakistan, or force your enimies to try to acquire the same weapons if your threatened by Israels 400 nukes. But if you're Egypt, Syria, Iran or North Korea you're not allowed to be in the club. Why?

Pakistan Nuclear Weapons

Pakistan Nuclear Weapons - A Chronology
Pakistan's Atomic Energy commission was founded some 15 years after the Indian program. In 1965, President Ayub Khan took some initial steps in response to the emerging of Indian nuclear threat. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the founder of Pakistan's Nuclear Program, initially as Minister for Fuel, Power and Natural Resources, and later as President and Prime Minister. Pakistan's nuclear program was launched in earnest shortly after the loss of East Pakistan in the 1971 war with India, when Bhutto initiated a program to develop nuclear weapons with a meeting of physicists and engineers at Multan in January 1972. In 1974 India successfully tested a nuclear "device." Bhutto reacted strongly to this test and said Pakistan must develop its own "Islamic bomb."

Pakistan lacks an extensive civil nuclear power infrastructure, and its weapons program is not as broad as India's. Much of its nuclear program is focused on weapons applications.

Initially, Pakistan focused on the plutonium path for building a nuclear weapon. Plutonium can be obtained from fuel that has been reprocessed from nuclear power plants, and in October 1974 Pakistan signed a contract with France for the design of a reprocessing facility for the fuel from its power plant at Karachi and other planned facilities. However, over the next two years Pakistan's international nuclear collaborators withdrew as Pakistan's nuclear ambitions became more apparent. The French were among the last to withdraw at the end of 1976, following sustained pressure from the United States.

A major advance jump to Pakistan's nuclear program was the arrival of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan in 1975, who brought with him the plans for uranium enrichment centrifuges, and lists of sources of the necessary technology. On this basis, Pakistan initially focused its development efforts on highly enriched uranium (HEU), and exploited an extensive clandestine procurement network to support these efforts. A.Q. Khan evidently persuaded Pakistan to work with Uranium (as compared to Plutonium) because Plutonium involves more arduous and hazardous procedures and cumbersome and expensive processes. Pakistan's activities were initially centered in a few facilities. A.Q. Khan founded the Engineering Research Laboratories at Kahuta in 1976, which later to became the Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).

Dr. Samar Mubarik Mand, member Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, has said that the team of Atomic Energy Commission developed the design of atomic bomb in 1978 and had successfully conducted a cold test after developing the first atomic bomb in 1983.

A number of United States laws, amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, applied to Pakistan and its program of nuclear weapons development. The 1976 Symington Amendment stipulated that economic assistance be terminated to any country that imported uranium enrichment technology. The Glenn Amendment of 1977 similarly called for an end to aid to countries that imported reprocessing technology--Pakistan had from France. United States economic assistance, except for food aid, was terminated under the Symington Amendment in April 1979.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made Pakistan a country of paramount geostrategic importance. In a matter of days, the United States declared Pakistan a "frontline state" against Soviet aggression and offered to reopen aid and military assistance deliveries. When the Reagan administration took office in January 1981, the level of assistance increased substantially. Presidential waivers for several of the amendments were required. The initial package from the United States was for US$3.2 billion over six years, equally divided between economic and military assistance. A separate arrangement was made for the purchase of forty F-16 fighter aircraft.

Aside from Afghanistan, the most problematic element in Pakistan's security policy was the nuclear question. President Zia had inherited a pledge that for domestic reasons he could not discard, and he continued the nuclear development program. Zia inherited an ambitious program from Bhutto and continued to develop it out of the realization that, despite Pakistan's newly acquired weaponry, it could never match India's conventional power and that India either had, or shortly could develop, its own nuclear weapons.

In 1985 the Solarz Amendment was added to prohibit aid to countries that attempt to import nuclear commodities from the United States. In the same year, the Pressler Amendment was passed; referring specifically to Pakistan, it said that if that nation possessed a nuclear device, aid would be suspended. Many of these amendments could be waived if the president declared that it was in the national interests of the United States to continue assistance.

Even after the invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan almost exhausted United States tolerance, including bungled attempts to illegally acquire United States nuclear- relevant technology and a virtual public admission in 1987 by the head of Pakistan's nuclear program that the country had developed a weapon. As long as Pakistan remained vital to United States interests in Afghanistan, however, no action was taken to cut off United States support. For the remainder of Zia's tenure, the United States generally ignored Pakistan's developing nuclear program. But the issue that after Zia's death led to another cutoff of aid was Pakistan's persistent drive toward nuclear development.

Initial Pakistani attempts to handle the bilateral nuclear relationship with India led nowhere, but a significant step was a nonformalized 1985 agreement that neither India nor Pakistan would attack the other's nuclear facilities. Zia asked India to agree to several steps to end the potential nuclear arms race on the subcontinent. One of these measures was the simultaneous signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The second step was a joint agreement for inspection of all nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Pakistan also proposed a pact between the two countries to allow for mutual inspection of sites. And, finally, Pakistan proposed a South Asian nuclear-free zone. It appeared that Zia was looking for a way to terminate the costly Pakistani program. But in order to sell this idea in Pakistan, he required some concessions from India. Termination would also get him out of difficulties the program was causing with the United States, including the curtailment of aid in 1979.

These proposals were still on the table in the early 1990s, and were supplemented by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's call for a roundtable discussion among Pakistan, India, the United States, Russia, and China on nuclear weapons in South Asia.

Pakistan's dependence on China grew as Western export controls and enforcement mechanisms have grown more stringent. China's nuclear assistance predates the 1986 Sino-Pakistani atomic cooperation agreement, with some of the most critical transfers occurring from 1980 through 1985. China is reported to have provided Pakistan with the design of one of its warheads, as well as sufficient HEU for a few weapons. The 25-kiloton design was the one used in China's fourth nuclear test, which was an atmospheric test using a ballistic missile launch. This configuration is said to be a fairly sophisticated design, with each warhead weighing considerably less than the unwieldy, first-generation US and Soviet weapons which weighed several thousand kilograms. As of 1989 it was suggested that Pakistan had a workable bomb weighing only 400 pounds. Pakistan Foreign Minister Yakub Khan was present at the Chinese Lop Nor test site to witness the test of a small nuclear device in May 1983, giving rise to speculation that a Pakistani-assembled device was detonated in this test.

Evidently, however, the jump-start provided by A.Q. Khan's trove of documents was an insufficient basis for a dependable Uranium program. Chinese assistance in the development of gas centrifuges at Kahuta was indicated by the presence of Chinese technicians at the facility in the early 1980s. The uranium enrichment facility began operating in the early 1980s, but suffered serious start up problems. In early 1996 it was reported that the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratory had received 5,000 ring magnets, which can be used in gas centrifuges, from a subsidiary of the China National Nuclear Corporation.

In 1988 the US and Pakistan reached an informal understanding, which according to US officials went into effect in 1993, under which Pakistan agreed to freeze production of bomb-grade HEU indefinitely, and to refrain from enriching uranium to a level above 20% U-235. Prior to the 1998 nuclear tests, the US had reportedly obtained intelligence indicating that Pakistan had stopped production of bomb-grade uranium.

Perhaps in response to the persistent problems with the Uranium program, around the time of the signing of the 1986 Sino-Pakistani atomic cooperation agreement, Pakistan evidently embarked on a parrallel Plutonium program. Built with Chinese assistance, the heavy water reactor at Khushab is the central element of Pakistan's program for production of plutonium and tritium for advanced compact warheads. The Khushab facility, like that at Kahuta, is not subject to IAEA inspections. Khushab, with a capacity variously reported at between 40 and 70 MWT, was completed in the mid-1990s, with the start of construction dating to the mid-1980s.

As of the mid-1990s it was widely reported that Pakistan's stockpile consisted of as many as 10 nuclear warheads based on a Chinese design. As of mid-1998 estimates of Pakistan's HEU inventory ranged between 100 and 500 kilograms. Assuming that Pakistan would need about 20 kilograms for a single weapon, Pakistan's stockpile might be estimated at between 5 and 25 weapons. By the end of the decade, it was reliably reported that Pakistan's stockpile consisted of about 30 nuclear weapons.

As of late 2001 it was reported tha the US Government estimated that Pakistan had fabricated fewer than 20 complete nuclear weapons, based on a design that uses uranium. It was estimated that Pakistan had produced sufficient weapons-grade uranium to fabricate twice this many uranium weapons. It was also estimated that Pakistan's production of plutonium was sufficient to fabricate at least five weapons. However, at least one [anonymous] former US government official suggested that these estimates of were "almost certainly way, way low." [New York Times December 9, 2001, Pg. 1]

On 28 May 1998 Pakistan announced that it had successfully conducted five nuclear tests. According to the announcment, the results were as expected, and there was no release of radioactivity. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission that the five nuclear tests conducted on Thursday measured up to 5.0 on the Richter scale, with a reported yield of up to 40 KT (equivalent TNT). According to local reports, these detonations took place over a two hour period. One device was said to be a boosted uranium device, with the four other tests being low yield sub-kiloton devices. On 30 May 1998 Pakistan tested one more nuclear warhead with a yield of 12 kilotons. The tests were conducted at Balochistan, bringing the total number of claimed tests to six. It has also been claimed by Pakistani sources that at least one additional device, initially planned for detonation on 30 May 1998, remained emplaced underground ready for detonation.

Pakistani claims concerning the number and yields of their underground tests cannot be independently confirmed by seismic means, and it has been suggested by Indian sources that as few as two weapons were actually detonated, each with yields considerably lower than claimed by Pakistan. Initially, seismic data was interpreted as indicating at least two and possibily a third, much smaller, test in the initial round of tests at the Ras Koh range. Subsequent analysis, however, confirmed at least one test on 28 May, though the possibility of two additional tests was not excluded. The single test on 30 May provided a clear seismic signal.

[announced] YIELD
[boosted device?] 28 May 1998 25-36 kiloton
Fission device 28 May 1998 12 kiloton 7-8 kiloton
Low-yield device 28 May 1998 sub-kiloton --
Low-yield device 28 May 1998 sub-kiloton --
Low-yield device 28 May 1998 sub-kiloton --
Fission device 30 May 1998 12 kiloton 1-3 kiloton
Fission device not detonated 12 kiloton

1 1998148 05/28/98 10:16:15.8 28.950N 64.720E 4.9 - - - PDE-Q 1440562 1570
2 1998150 05/30/98 06:54:56.1 28.720N 64.020E 4.6 - - - PDE-Q 1442998 1264

These tests came slightly more than 2 weeks after India carried out 5 nuclear tests of its own, and after many warnings by Pakistani officials that they would respond to India (the two countries have fought 3 wars). In addition, Pakistan's President Rafiq Tarar declared a state of emergency, citing "threat by external aggression to the security of Pakistan." The United States had been attempting to persuade Pakistan not to test (and to head off a potential nuclear arms race in South Asia) by offering potential economic and military benefits, but this effort did not succeed. Pakistan already had been subject to limited U.S. sanctions since 1990 under the Pressler Amendment, when $650 million in military and humanitarian aid had been cut off as a result of an inability by the President to certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device.

As was the case following India's nuclear tests, President Clinton, as required by law (including the Glenn Amendment, part of the Arms Export Control Act) announced that the United States would impose sanctions on Pakistan. These sanctions, among other things, could stem the flow of financial assistance into Pakistan, potentially causing severe harm to the Pakistani economy. With $37 billion in foreign debt (more than half of the country's total Gross Domestic Product, or GDP), a monthly trade deficit of $150 million, foreign exchange reserves of only $1.3 billion, and interest payments of $200-$500 million due each month, Pakistan can ill afford any suspension or cutoff in international assistance. Overall, Pakistan is considered far more vulnerable to economic sanctions than India.

In October 1997, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had agreed to lend Pakistan $1.52 billion -- including $935 million under an enhanced, low-interest-rate, enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF) -- over three years as part of an economic reform program. (The first $208 million tranche was released in October 1997.) The IMF money is considered important not only on its own account but also because it facilitates Pakistan's ability to borrow from commercial sources by increasing the country's financial credibility. Without the IMF, some economists believe foreign lenders could call in their loans, leading to a crisis of confidence in Pakistan's economy and a run on the country's freely-convertible currency, the rupee. Pakistan also receives money from other international lending organizations, including the World Bank. Following Pakistan's nuclear tests, IMF and World Bank assistance are now thrown into question, with the United States saying it would oppose international lending to Pakistan.

Prior to the 1998 nuclear tests, the US had reportedly obtained intelligence indicating that Pakistan had stopped production of bomb-grade uranium. However, following the tests A.Q. Khan claimed that Pakistan had never stopped making bomb-grade HEU during the 1980s and 1990s, and reportedly US officials said "we don't have enough information" to conclude that Pakistan was not making weapons-grade HEU.

According to a preliminary analysis conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory, material released into the atmosphere during an underground nuclear test by Pakistan in May 1998 contained low levels of weapons-grade plutonium. But Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and other agencies contested the accuracy of this finding. The significance of the Los Alamos finding was that Pakistan had either imported or produced plutonium undetected by the US intelligence community.

Pakistan Biological Weapons
Pakistan has a capable but less well-developed biotechnology infrastructure than India. Its facilities, while fewer in number, could nonetheless support work on lethal biological pathogens. Moreover, Pakistan is believed to have the resources and capabilities necessary to support a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort.

Like India, Pakistan is a signatory to the BWC. Pakistan also participated actively in the negotiations to elaborate an effective verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention. Pakistan is of the view that, due to the complex nature of the negotiations, there should be no artificial deadlines which would be counterproductive and prejudicial to the process of consensus building and facilitating the negotiations leading to a comprehensive verification regime. In order to forestall any future abuse of the verification regime, Pakistan is also of the view that appropriate safeguards may be included in verification regime itself, and that an emphasis on the verification regime should not eclipse other important facets spelt out in the Convention.

Pakistan Chemical Weapons
Like India, Pakistan has numerous munitions systems which could be used to deliver CW agent, including artillery, aerial bombs, and missiles. Pakistan has a less-well developed commercial chemical industry than India, but is expected to eventually have the capability to produce all precursor chemicals needed to support a chemical weapons stockpile.

Pakistan's market for industrial chemicals is expanding gradually, with production of chemicals largely confined to soda ash, caustic soda, sulfuric and hydrochloric acid, sodium bicarbonate, liquid chlorine, aluminum sulfate, carbon black, acetone and acetic acid. Although imports account for most of the market, local production is expected to increase as new plants come on stream. There are over 400 licensed pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan, including 35 multinationals who have over 60 percent of the market share. Approximately one-third of Pakistan's total consumption of pharmaceutical is imported. Major suppliers include the United States, the U.K., Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Holland and France.

Pakistan has ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC], and maintained that it did not have any chemical weapons capabilities to declare under the Convention. However, according to Indian intelligence estimates, Pakistan -- dependent on foreign sources of chemical warfare technology -- has manufactured weapons for blister, blood, choking and nerve agents. China may be an important supplier of technology and equipment to Pakistan. It is widely believed in India that Pakistan used chemical weapons against Indian soldiers in Siachen in 1987. In 1992 India declared to Pakistan that it did not possess chemical weapons, and India and Pakistan issued a declaration that neither side possessed or intended to acquire or use chemical weapons.

In conformity with its declared policy of seeking the complete elimination of weapons of mass destruction from the South Asian theatre of tensions, Pakistan participated in the long negotiations leading to the conclusion of Chemical Weapons Convention. Despite concerns and reservations regarding certain provisions of the CWC which were articulated at the time of the Convention's conclusion as well as subsequently, Pakistan signed the CWC to underscore a commitment to the objective of the complete elimination, regionally and globally, of this means of warfare.

The entry into force of the Convention revealed the reality of the presence of Indian chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities designed to be used against Pakistan. This created a qualitatively new situation for Pakistan and complicated the decision to ratify the Convention. The rightwing religious/political movement Jamaat-e-Islami, led by Qazi Hussain Ahmed, held rallies to mobilise public opinion against CWC ratification. Adding to the controversy were statements of retired generals such as Hamid Gul and Mirza Aslam Beg, charged that Pakistan had made a major compromise by signing the CWC.

Despite these challenges, the Government of Pakistan submited its instrument of ratification to the CWC on 28 October 1997. The CWC was neither discussed in the parliament nor brought before the Federal Cabinet. Although Pakistan does not admit to the manufacture of chemical weapons, it does use and consume a number of chemicals that can be utilised for producing chemical arms. If Pakistan had remained out of the treaty it would have been denied access to such dual-use chemicals.

Under the CWC Pakistan is obligated to open all its installations for inspection. At the first stage, the team of UN inspectors visited the Wah Ordinance Factory on 19 February 1999to assess whether Pakistan is producing chemical weapons. According to one published report, the Pakistani government had dismantled the chemical plant in the factory, the earth was dug up quite deeply after the plant was dismantled, and it was followed by a leveling of the land.

Sources and Methods
Joint Declaration on the Complete Prohibition of Chemical Weapons August 19, 1992 (New Delhi)

"UN Inspectors To Inspect Pakistan Ordinance Factory, " FBIS-EAS-1999-0218 : 17 Feb 1999 [Karachi Jasarat in Urdu 17 Feb 99 p 1,7]
"Pakistan: CWC Signed To Save Pakistan From Crisis," FBIS-NES-98-007 : 7 Jan 1998 [Islamabad The Muslim in English 7 Jan 98 pp 1, 4]
"Pakistan CWC Controversy Worries West," FBIS-TAC-98-103 : 13 Apr 1998 [Islamabad The Nation (Internet version) in English 13 Apr 98]
"India Prepares Chemical Weapons Defense," FBIS-TAC-98-129 : 9 May 1998 [Delhi The Pioneer in English 9 May 98 pp 1, 4]

Related Link: http://globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/pakistan/nuke.htm
author by Robert S. Norrispublication date Tue Apr 08, 2003 11:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors


On February 22 and 23, 1996, President Jacques Chirac announced several reforms of the armed forces to be undertaken between 1997 and 2002. Chirac's decisions in the nuclear area combined the withdrawal of several obsolete systems with a commitment to modernize those that remained.

In February 1996, Chirac announced that the S3D intermediate-range missile would be retired without replacement. On September 16, 1996, all 18 missiles on the Plateau d'Albion were deactivated. Two years and $77.5 million later, the silos and complex were fully dismantled.

The Pacific test facilities at Mururoa and Fangataufa have also been dismantled. France ceased producing weapons plutonium in 1992 and highly enriched uranium in 1996. In 1998, it began to dismantle the Marcoule reprocessing plant and the Pierrelatte enrichment facility.

Bombers. In July 1996, after 32 years of service, the Mirage IVP relinquished its nuclear role. Five Mirage IVPs were retained for reconnaissance missions; they belong to the 1/91 "Gascogne" squadron at Mont-de-Marsan. The remaining IVPs were put into storage at Chateaudun.

Three squadrons of Mirage 2000N have now assumed a "strategic" role in addition to their "pre-strategic" one. A fourth Mirage 2000N squadron at Nancy—now conventional—is scheduled to be replaced by Mirage 2000Ds. The squadron may be modified to carry the Air-Sol-Moyenne Porté (ASMP) supersonic missile, with the aircraft distributed to the three 2000N squadrons at Luxeuil and Istres, along with 18 ASMP missiles once deployed with Mirage IVPs. We estimate that nearly 100 ASMP missiles were built, and 80 warheads produced for them. In his February 1996 speech, Chirac said that France would develop a longer-range ASMP, sometimes called the "ASMP Plus" (with a 500- rather than 300-kilometer range). It is expected to enter service in about 10 years.

The Rafale will be France's multi-purpose navy and air force fighter/ bomber for the twenty-first century. Its roles include conventional ground attack, air defense, air superiority, and nuclear delivery of the ASMP and/or ASMP Plus. The carrier-based navy version will be introduced first, with the air force Rafale D acquiring a nuclear strike role, possibly by 2005. The air force still plans to buy a total of 234 Rafales.

France currently has only one aircraft carrier in service, the Foch, which was commissioned in 1963. The Clemenceau, which entered service in 1961, was decommissioned in 1997. Both were modified to handle the AN 52 nuclear gravity bomb with Super Etendard aircraft. The Clemenceau was modified in 1979 and the Foch in 1981. The AN 52 was retired in July 1991. Only the Foch was modified to "handle and store" the replacement ASMP, approximately 20 of which were allocated for two squadrons (about 24) Super Etendard aircraft.

The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier was launched on May 15, 1994, but various problems encountered during sea trials have delayed its commissioning until October 2000, almost four years behind schedule. At that time, the Foch will be laid up. The de Gaulle will have a single squadron of Super Etendard (with presumably about 10 ASMPs) until the Rafale M is introduced in 2002. The navy is reportedly asking for a second ship, tentatively named the Richelieu. The navy plans to purchase a total of 60 Rafale M, the first 16 of which will perform an air-to-air role. Missions for subsequent planes may include the ASMP and/or ASMP Plus.

Nuclear-powered ballistic missiles submarines (SSBNs). The lead submarine, Le Triomphant, was rolled out from its construction shed in Cherbourg on July 13, 1993. It entered service in September 1996, armed with the M45 sea-launched ballistic missile and new TN 75 warheads. The second SSBN, Le Temraire, entered service in 1999. The schedule for the third, Le Vigilant, has slipped, and it will not be ready until at least 2001. Chirac announced on February 23, 1996, that a fourth submarine would be built and that a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), known as the M51, will replace the M45. The service date for the fourth sub is approximately 2005. The entry-into-date for the SLBM is 2010.

We estimate that eventually there will be 288 warheads—because only enough missiles and warheads will be purchased to fully stock three of the four Triomphant-class subs. Less than full loading is the case today, with five submarines in the fleet and only four sets of M4 SLBMs.

Under a reorganization plan, the navy will base its SSBNs (formerly at Ile-Longue) and SSNs (formerly at Toulon) at Brest. The navy will shut down its SSBN command installations at Houilles (Yvelines) and transfer their activities to Brest. The submarine communication infrastructure will remain at Rosnay (Indre).

The French defense ministry released a report in 1999 detailing cost figures for its submarine program. The total acquisition cost is estimated to be approximately 45 billion francs ($9 billion), not including the cost of the nuclear warheads. The report also estimated that it will cost 100 billion francs ($20 billion) to maintain the weapons in service for 30 years.


In July 1998, Britain's Labour government announced several decisions resulting from its Strategic Defence Review:

• Only one British submarine will patrol at any given time, and that boat will carry a reduced load of 48 warheads, half the number the Conservative government had previously planned.

• The submarine will patrol at a reduced state of alert, its missiles de-targeted. It will be capable of firing its missiles within days, not minutes as during the Cold War. It will also carry out a range of secondary tasks.

• Britain will maintain fewer than 200 operationally available warheads. This is a one-third reduction from the Conservative government's plan.

• Britain will purchase a total of 58 rather than 65 Trident D-5 missiles.

When these decisions are fully implemented, the total explosive power of Britain's operationally available weapons will have been reduced by more than 70 percent since the end of the Cold War. The explosive power of each Trident submarine will be one-third less than that of the Chevaline-armed Polaris submarines of recent years.

The Atomic Weapons Establishment is now managed by an industrial consortium consisting of Lockheed Martin, Serco Limited, and British Nuclear Fuels, which took over on April 1, 2000, under a 10-year, 2.2-billion-pound contract. On April 1, 1999, the Chief of Defence Logistics assumed overall responsibility for the routine movement of nuclear weapons within the United Kingdom. Day-to-day duties are gradually being transferred from RAF personnel to the Ministry of Defence Police, with support from awe civilians and the Royal Marines. The process will be completed by March 31, 2002.

Until recently, the Royal Air Force operated eight squadrons of dual-capable Tornado GR.1/1A aircraft. But with the withdrawal of the last remaining WE177 bombs at the end of March 1998, the Tornadoes' nuclear role was terminated, bringing to an end the four-decade-long history of RAF aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. By the end of August 1998, the remaining WE177 bombs had been dismantled. The RAF base at Bruggen, Germany, is scheduled to be closed, and by the end of 2001 approximately 40 Tornadoes now at the base will be reassigned to bases at Lossiemouth, Scotland, and Marham, England.

Britain built and deployed four Resolution-class SSBNs, commonly called Polaris submarines after the missiles they carried. The first, the Resolution, went on patrol in mid-June 1968, and the last—the Revenge—in September 1970. The four boats conducted a total of 229 patrols over a 28-year period. The Revenge was retired on May 25, 1992, after 56 patrols. The Resolution was decommissioned on October 22, 1994, after 61 patrols. The Renown was decommissioned on February 24, 1996, after 52 patrols, and the Repulse was withdrawn from service on August 28, 1996, after 60 patrols. Presumably, the Chevaline warheads they carried have been dismantled.

The first submarine of Britain's new class, the Vanguard, began its initial patrol in December 1994. The second, the Victorious, entered service in December 1995. The third, the Vigilant, was launched in October 1995 and entered service in the fall of 1998. The fourth and final boat of the class, the Vengeance, was launched on September 19, 1998, and was commissioned on November 27, 1999, at the Marconi-Marine Shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness. It will enter service as part of the First Submarine Squadron, and go on patrol in late 2000 or early 2001. The submarine has a total complement of 205 men, which includes a ship's company of about 130. The current estimated cost of the program is $18.8 billion.

Each Vanguard-class SSBN carries 16 U.S.-produced Trident II D-5 SLBMs. Technically, there are no specifically American or British Trident IIs. A pool of SLBMs are kept at the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic at the Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia. Britain has title to 58, but does not actually own them. A missile that is deployed on a U.S. SSBN may at a later date deploy on a British boat, or vice versa.

How many warheads will there be in the future British stockpile? Several factors go into the calculation. We assume that Britain will produce enough warheads for only three boatloads of missiles, a practice it followed with Polaris. As was stated in the Strategic Defence Review, there will be "fewer than 200 operationally available warheads." If all four boats were fully loaded (MIRVed with three warheads) that would total 192. But the purchase of only 58 missiles means there will not be a full complement of missiles for all four boats. The government also stated that normally only one SSBN will be on patrol, with the other three in various states of readiness.

A further consideration is the "substrategic" mission. A Ministry of Defence official described a substrategic strike as "the limited and highly selective use of nuclear weapons in a manner that fell demonstrably short of a strategic strike, but with a sufficient level of violence to convince an aggressor who had already miscalculated our resolve and attacked us that he should halt his aggression and withdraw or face the prospect of a devastating strategic strike."

This substrategic mission began with Victorious and "will become fully robust when Vigilant enters service," according to the Ministry of Defence's 1996 White Paper. If this has remained the policy, then some Trident II SLBMs already have a single warhead and are assigned targets once covered by WE177 gravity bombs. For example, when the Vigilant is on patrol, 10, 12, or 14 of its SLBMs may carry up to three warheads per missile, but the other two, four, or six missiles may be armed with just one warhead. There is also some flexibility in the choice of yield of the Trident warhead. (Choosing to detonate the unboosted primary only could produce a yield of a few kilotons.) With dual missions, an SSBN would have approximately 36-44 warheads on board during patrol.

We estimate that the future British stockpile for the SSBN fleet will be around 160 warheads. With an additional 15 percent for spares, we estimate the total British stockpile to be approximately 185 warheads. At any given time, the sole SSBN on patrol might carry about 40 warheads. The second and third SSBNs could put to sea fairly rapidly with a similar loading, while the fourth might take longer due to the cycle of overhaul and maintenance.

Ten nuclear-powered attack submarines of the Trafalgar-class and the Swiftsure-class are scheduled to receive upgrades to carry U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles by 2008. The first submarine to be upgraded, the Splendid, fired Tomahawk missiles during Operation Allied Force. The upgrade of a second submarine, the Triumph, was completed by the end of 1999.

Nuclear Notebook is prepared by Robert S. Norris and William M. Arkin of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Inquiries should be directed to NRDC, 1200 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C., 20005; 202-289-6868.

Related Link: http://www.bullatomsci.org/issues/nukenotes/so00nukenote.html
author by Aidan - IMC Irelandpublication date Tue Apr 08, 2003 11:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kokomero, you've posted four plus articles from the same source, onto the newswire in the past half an hour.

The newswire is a busy and important resource at the moment, and we're asking you to stop this immediately, and show some consideration for other users of the site.

Any further articles from you, will be moved to the hidden list until after a reasonable cooling off period occurs.


one of IMC Ireland Editorial

author by kokomeropublication date Tue Apr 08, 2003 11:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But I take your point! Somebody started posting stuff on Syria and India and I got annoyed. I won't abuse IMC again.

author by Henchman - napublication date Tue Apr 08, 2003 15:18author email Kar_nak at juno dot comauthor address USAauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

First, where did you get the idea Pakistan and India are us allies? Try PAK decided not to get crushed for supporting terrorism (as you appear to do) India is more of a Red Chinese ally than a US ally. Too much BS for me to even read the nonsense.

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