§ Lord Hylton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many nuclear warheads, and how much weapons-grade plutonium, have been destroyed, or made unusable by (a) the United States, (b) Russia, and (c) other countries, since May 1997. [HL280]
§ Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
We have no precise information on the numbers of nuclear warheads, or the amount of weapons-grade plutonium, which has been destroyed or made unuseable by the United States, Russia or other countries (outside of the UK) since May 1997. Russian and US nuclear disarmament programmes initiated prior to this, such as START I and the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives on tactical nuclear weapons, have continued throughout this period. In September 2000 the US and Russia agreed to dispose of 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium each. The UK is contributing funding to the Russian side of this programme.
Since May 1997, the UK has completed its programme of dismantling all RAF WE- 177 free-fall nuclear bombs. The programme to dismantle our remaining Chevaline (Polaris) warheads is on course to be completed by March 2002. As announced in the Strategic Defence Review, we are placing 0.3 tonnes of weapons grade plutonium under European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) safeguards and making it liable to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).