UK to reduce number of nuclear weapons by 2020's
The Government has promised to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the UK by the mid 2020's, in accordance with the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).
The NPT was created in 1968 with the aim of facilitating nuclear disarmament and promoting peaceful uses for nuclear energy. It was signed by the five states to have major stores of nuclear weapons: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US. The treaty is reviewed every five years.
The UK was the third country in the world to carry out a nuclear weapons test in 1952 (named operation Hurricane), after the US and Russia. The UK also collaborated with America during world war two in the making of nuclear weapons against Germany, although they were never used against the Nazi state.
The only country ever to use a nuclear weapon against another is America. These are the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Seventy to eighty thousand people were killed instantly in the blast in Hiroshima, whilst figures show radiation sickness and related diseases killed at least 150,000 more in the subsequent months and years.
Other nuclear powers that have not signed the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty are India (80 - 100 nuclear weapons), Pakistan (90 - 110) and North Korea (less than 10). North Korea conducted their first test of a nuclear device in 2006, but only small amounts of radiation were detected. Israel is thought to have up to 200 nuclear warheads, and there are thought to be other countries which have undeclared weapons.
Of the five NPT signatory states, the UK already has the smallest amount of weapons (just 225 while America holds 7,700). The aim of the UK government is to reduce this number to 180 by the mid 2020's.