Supplementary memorandum from the Ministry
Thank you for your letter of 7 February. Responses
to the four questions posed by Committee members are set out in
the attachment to this letter.
We would also like to take this opportunity
to provide additional information in order to expand on and clarify
four issues raised during the evidence session.
First, in relation to Question 351, about the
life-extension programme for the Trident D5 missile, we have a
clear understanding with the United States that the programme
will not involve any enhancement to the payload, range or accuracy
of the missile. Paragraph 1.8 of the White Paper reflects that
Second, in relation to Question 358, on the
White Paper not referring to a sub-strategic role for Trident,
we maintainand plan to retain in futurethe ability
to vary the numbers of missiles and warheads which might be employed.
This, coupled with the continued availability of a lower yield
from our warhead, can make our nuclear forces a more credible
deterrent against smaller nuclear threats. This was set out in
paragraph 4-9 of the recent White Paper and Lord Drayson made
this position clear in his speech in the House of Lords debate
on the White Paper on the Future of the UK's Nuclear Deterrent
on 24 January (Official Record, column 1107). The text of the
White Paper did not represent any change in what has been a long-standing
position that we would only ever contemplate the use of our nuclear
capabilities in extreme circumstances of self defence.
Third, in relation to Question 401 on possible
collaboration on submarine programmes, we believe that there are
potential opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation and
collaboration with the US in relation to our respective future
submarine programmes, including future ballistic missile carrying
submarines. As the Committee indicated, this was referred to in
the exchanges of letters between the President of the United States
and the Prime Minister. The details of what this might involve
in practice will need to be the subject of further work between
the UK and the US.