Hansard on AWE and Trident Replacement, 29th April, 2009

*29 Apr 2009 : Column 1285W*

     Atomic Weapons Establishment

*Nick Harvey:* To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the objectives are of the Threat Reduction Division at the Atomic Weapons Establishment; and how many staff are employed in this division. [271266]

*Mr. Quentin Davies:* The Threat Reduction Division at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) currently employs some 140 staff, drawing on expertise as necessary from other parts of the AWE workforce to support its tasking objectives. The Threat Reduction Division supports four work-streams:

     Nuclear Treaty Verification (including arms control verification
     research and support to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

     Nuclear Accident Response.

     Counter Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism.

     Nuclear Intelligence.

The detailed tasks and objectives within the four work-streams are being withheld as their release would, or would be likely to, prejudice national security.

Commons debate:

*29 Apr 2009 : Column 864
*Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South) (Lab):* Given that the Government are a little strapped for cash at the moment, might this be the moment to reconsider our commitment to spend £20 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons?
*The Prime Minister:* As my hon. Friend knows, that expenditure is over more than 20 years. As he also knows, we wish to use the fact of our deterrent to bring about non-proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world and to persuade other countries to be part of a process of nuclear disarmament. At the moment there is an opportunity for the major powers to reduce their nuclear weapons and in return we could get agreements about non-proliferation of nuclear weapons from some of the major powers, while at the same time offering them the right that they should have to civil nuclear power. He may remember that the non-proliferation treaty was based on two principles: first, that countries with nuclear weapons would cut their nuclear weapons, and secondly, that we would give non-nuclear states access to civil nuclear power. Given the pressures that exist at the moment, that is an even more relevant position than it was 50 years ago.

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