Nuclear Information Service Project Director Peter Burt spoke about nuclear weapons co-operation between Britain and France at a fringe meeting during the Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting for 2013 at Geneva (presentation and key documents available to download at the bottom of this article).
The meeting, hosted by Abolition 2000, Christian CND, and Armes Nucleaires STOP, discussed the 2010 UK France treaty on joint radiographic hydrodynamic research between the two countries, and explore its implications for the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The 2010 treaty sets out the ground for the 'Teutates' project – a joint programme to build shared hydrodynamics research facilities in each country. The new facilities will allow stockpile stewardship experiments to be undertaken to explore how materials and components used in nuclear weapons behave at extremes of pressure and temperature. Stockpile stewardship experiments are intended to ensure that nuclear weapons perform as they are designed to do as their lives age.
However, experiments of this type have a 'dual use' nature, in that they generate data which could also be of use in the design and development of new types of warhead, or in modernising existing warhead designs to increase their destructive power. For this reason, Nuclear Information Service is calling for increased transparency from Nuclear-Weapon States on stockpile stewardship experiments, and is recommending that all Nuclear-Weapon States publish annually a voluntary statement outlining the nature and purpose of each stockpile stewardship experiment conducted during the year. The US National Nuclear Security Administration publishes a general summary of such information on a quarterly basis, and France and the UK could produce a similar document to increase the transparency of the 'Teutates' programme and boost confidence that the programme is not undermining international Treaty obligations.
Download a copy of the presentation and key documents here: