Monday, February 09, 2009

A VERY Special Relationship

A rather shocking revelation published in The Guardian:

The US military has been using Britain's atomic weapons factory to carry out research into its own nuclear warhead programme, according to evidence seen by the Guardian.

US defence officials said that "very valuable" warhead research has taken place at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire as part of an ongoing and secretive deal between the British and American governments.

The Ministry of Defence admitted it is working with the US on the UK's "existing nuclear warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options that might be available" but declined to give any further information.

Basically, this is tantamount to an admission that the RRW is a joint American-British project, with the Atomic Weapons Establishment providing vital assistance with research that the US weapons labs are apparently unequipped to do. This makes sense in light of the British decision to build new Trident subs--after all, the main purpose of the RRW is probably to replace the W88s on the USN's Trident II SSBMs.

This news makes it clear why the RRW program is unlikely to disappear, even if Obama elects to formally cancel it. The RRW is supported by powerful, entrenched interest groups and is likely to be realized eventually, even if it is delayed another ten years or so. The project has apparently been shared with our closest ally, presumably with the condition that the new warhead could be manufactured at AWE for deployment by the RN. If this is any indication, the "special relationship" between America and Britain is stronger than ever.

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