UK could keep submarines but would lose Trident missiles & warheads under ban treaty


Contact: David Cullen 07732 872895


20th September 2017

UK could keep submarines but would lose Trident missiles & warheads under ban treaty

The UK would be allowed to keep Trident submarines if it joined the nuclear ban treaty, but would have to get rid of its nuclear missiles and warheads, according to a report released today by the Nuclear Information Service (NIS). The ban treaty, which was negotiated by 122 countries this summer, will be opened for signature in New York later today.


The UK, along with several other nuclear armed states, has said that it will not sign the nuclear ban treaty. However, as the treaty is supported by a majority of states around the world, political pressure is likely to grow on the UK to join. The report builds on an earlier analysis by NIS of a draft of the treaty, and is thought to be the first detailed examination of the effects the ban treaty would have on a nuclear armed state.


Under the treaty, the UK would technically be able to remain a member of NATO if it stopped participating in nuclear planning, but membership might become politically untenable in the long run, according to the report. The report also examines what effect the ban would have on the UK’s research and development into nuclear weapons and cooperation with the US and France as well as compensation to veterans of nuclear tests.


Under the ban treaty states who used or tested nuclear weapons are expected to provide assistance to people living with the health effects of the weapons. The report finds that the treaty would oblige the UK to do more to help veterans of British nuclear tests.




Notes for editors


1. Nuclear Information Service (NIS) is a not-for-profit independent information service which works to promote public awareness and foster debate on nuclear disarmament and related safety and environmental issues. More information at


2. The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will be open for signature at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Around 45 states are expected to sign the treaty during the opening ceremony, and others are likely to follow during the UN General Assembly in the coming days. The treaty will come into force after 50 countries have ratified it, and was devised during two rounds of negotiations in March and June/July 2017, where around 130 countries were negotiated.


3. The NIS report will be released at 5pm GMT at, but an advance copy can be released on request. Report author David Cullen is also available for interviews and to give background on the ban treaty or the current situation in North Korea.


For more information please contact NIS Research Manager David Cullen by phone on 0118 327 4935 or 07732 872895 or by email at

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