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Select a news topic from the list below, then select a news article to read.

Windows for Submarines


A new IT system for Trident submarines has been installed. The Submarine Command System Next Generation (SMCS NG) is based on Windows XP.  The new command system was recently installed on HMS Vigilant, which is currently in refit at Devonport dockyard.

Source - The Register


Commission on US strategic posture

left The interim report from a new commission into US nuclear weapons policy, chaired by former Defence Secretary William Perry, was published on 15 December 

Overall the report is mixed and cautious.  It reaffirms the importance of Russia in determining the size of US nuclear forces, although it states that there is no nuclear threat from Russia or China.  It advocates bilateral negotiations with Russia. Ratification of the CTBT could be considered if there were assurances from the nuclear laboratories.  Nuclear terrorism is seen as a growing threat, particularly if the dangers of proliferation are not tackled.

A paper was sent to the Commission on the relationship between US and British nuclear weapons programmes.

Global Zero Campaign

left A new international campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons was launched in Paris on 8 December.  British supporters include billionaire Richard Branson, former Conservative Defence Minister Malcolm Rifkind and former Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett.  International supporters include former US President Jimmy Carter and ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

An international opinion poll asked about support for an agreement for all countries to eliminate nuclear weapons according to an agreed timetable.  Overall there was 76 % support for the proposal.  In Britain 55% were in favour.


Britain forcing pace of US Trident replacement


The future shape of the US nuclear weapons programme should be set by a series of reviews between 2008 and 2010.  It might be expected that only after these reviews would the Department of Defence determine what role there was for submarine-launched missiles and what missions they are expected to carry out in future decades. However a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons on 19 November indicated that the British government are setting the pace for the programme to replace the US Trident system.

Nuclear Waste Storage Costs Escalate

leftPlans to store nuclear waste have hit a snag with the need of  another waste repository involving a massive escalation in cost.

Ministers insist they still expect only one high-level geological disposal facility (GDF) will be needed at a possible cost of �12bn but a discussion paper produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) indicates a second cannot be ruled out.

AWE Staff Should Resign

left Representatives of the Atomic Weapons Establishment near Aldermaston in East Berkshire have met calls for their resignation after they visited the University of Birmingham to recruit students into the development and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.

Academic staff of the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, who are also members of the University community, denounced the nuclear weapons industry and the attempts to recruit students.

Serious Coolant Leakage from HMS Trafalgar

There has been a serious leak of coolant fluid from a British nuclear submarine at a dockyard on the Devon - Cornwall border.

The Royal Navy has confirmed up to 280 litres of water, likely to have been contaminated with tritium, poured from a burst hose as it was being pumped from HMS Trafalgar. The submarine was alongside at Devonport, after undergoing routine maintenance.

Ministry of Defence spokespersons have played down the seriousness of the incident. However respected nuclear safety expert, John Large, whose consultancy Large and Associates are well versed on maritime nuclear safety issues said:

� The very fact that it was being transferred to a quayside effluent tank and then would have been put through an radioactive treatment process means it was not in a fit state to be directly discharged into the environment.

If the leak was going on unnoticed, then those workers could have walked into it, spread it and taken it into other non-radioactive and non-controlled areas. �

Who Funds Iraqi Intelligence Service?

 Patrick Cockburn's Independent Article

If it ever comes to court it should be one of the more interesting libel cases of the decade. The Iraqi National Intelligence Service is threatening to sue Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi politician, for asking who pays for it.

"It is somewhat curious," says Mr Chalabi, "that the intelligence service of a country which is sovereign � that no one really knows who is funding it."

Obama to Shut Guantanamo Prison

left As one of his first acts in the White House, Barack Obama is preparing to move hundreds of detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison to the US where they will be given legal hearings, trials or face yet-to-be-established special terrorist courts.

Mr Obama has a long-standing commitment to shut down Guantanamo, which has become a symbol of injustice for human rights campaigners, and a lightning rod for anti-US criticism since it opened eight years ago. Closing the prison, which is on a part of Cuba leased to the US, will bring to an end one of the most poisonous legacies of the Bush administration while sending a signal that the "war on terror" is under more enlightened management.

Ministry Of Defence Calman Submission

THE Ministry of Defence has issued a strongly worded put-down of Scottish Government attempts to block the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. In its submission to the Calman Commission, the MoD recognises escalating tensions between the Westminster Government and the SNP administration at Holyrood, which opposes Trident.

The MoD makes clear it will rebuff demands to move Trident. It also hints at tensions between Holyrood and Westminster.

"Experience has shown that the majority of issues can be resolved through discussion and co-operation," the submission says. 

"However, this becomes much more challenging in areas where the devolved administration in Scotland has views or policies at odds with those of the Government.

"On 14 June, 2007, the Scottish Parliament passed a motion recognising that defence was reserved but opposing the Government's decision to maintain the deterrent capability."

Scottish Ministers have since set up a Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons working group that is looking at devolved laws, such as those on roads and planning, to see if it can remove the weapons "within the context of devolved responsibilities". 

The working group has also looked at the economic impact of removing nuclear weapons and is exploring the implications of seeking observer status at meetings of the Non Proliferation Treaty and considering the licensing and regulatory regime for HMNB Clyde.

The MoD says: "The overriding priority is clearly to ensure that the defence of the nation is never put at risk."