Arms control

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Content published before December 2016

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
11.07.2016Replacing the UK's 'Trident' Nuclear Deterrent
After nearly a decade of work on a programme to replace the UK's nuclear deterrent from the early 2030s, a decision on taking that programme forward will be made shortly. The Government will seek the approval of Parliament for this decision on 18 July 2016. But what are the arguments for and against doing so? How much will it cost? And are there any other alternatives? This paper updates and replaces all previous House of Commons Library briefing papers on this subject dating back to 2006. More notably it replaces previous versions of this paper published in October 2015, January 2016, March 2016 and June 2016. It is also part of a wider Library briefing series on nuclear weapons.
29.06.2016Nuclear Weapons - Country Comparisons
There are nine countries in the world that have nuclear weapons. Between them they possess an estimated 15,900 nuclear warheads. This paper is intended as a brief guide to which countries possess nuclear weapons and how they are seeking to either modernise or expand those capabilities. It is also part of a wider Library briefing series on nuclear weapons.
29.06.2016Defence nuclear convoys
Nuclear convoys transport defence nuclear material, including nuclear warheads and nuclear fuel, around the United Kingdom. This briefing explains what the convoys are and why some MPs are calling for them to be stopped. It is part of a wider Library briefing series on nuclear weapons.
29.06.2016The French Nuclear Deterrent
The French nuclear deterrent is the one that is most often compared to the UK's nuclear forces. While there are similarities in terms of policy, posture and size, there are also significant differences in terms of industrial support and cost. All of the major political parties in France also support an independent nuclear deterrent, in contrast to the UK; while domestic support is also high. This paper examines the French nuclear deterrent in greater detail. It is also part of a wider Library briefing series on nuclear weapons.
29.06.2016Nuclear Weapons: Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Regimes
In an attempt to reduce the dangers posed by existing nuclear arsenals and prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons technology, a complex international nuclear arms control architecture has evolved. This paper is intended as an introduction of each of these arms control regimes. It is also part of a Library briefing series on nuclear weapons.
12.01.2016The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review
This Commons Library briefing paper examines how the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review will affect the armed forces.
11.01.2016The UK National Security Council
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the UK National Security Council (NSC). Using a Q&A format, the briefing provides basic information about its origins, mandate and operation.
16.10.2015The Lausanne Accord with Iran
The nuclear negotiations with Iran took a big step forward with the announcement of a framework for a full agreement, to be signed by the end of June 2015. Will they make it across the finishing line?
10.03.2015The Trident Successor Programme: an update
This briefing paper is now out-of-date and has been replaced by Commons Library Briefing 7353, Replacing the UK's Trident Nuclear Deterrent, 26 October 2015.
05.03.2015Preparations for the 2015 NPT Review Conference
The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be held in New York from 27 April to 22 May 2015. This note looks at progress made since the 2010 Conference and outlines the UK Government's position.

Lords Library Notes

DateDescription
12.05.2016Queen's Speech 2016 Day 2: Foreign and European Affairs, International Development and Defence
The House of Lords is due to debate the Queen's Speech over four days between 19 and 25 May 2016. This briefing is one of four prepared by the House of Lords Library to cover the themes of each day of debate.
21.01.2013Debate on 24 January: Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament
This Library Note provides background reading in advance of the debate to be held on 24 January on the prospects for multilateral nuclear disarmament, and the contribution which Britain could make.
15.01.2010Debate on 21st January: prospects for nuclear disarmament and strengthening non-proliferation. LLN 2010/002
Debate on 21st January: Prospects for Nuclear Disarmament and Strengthening Non-Proliferation. This Library Note aims to provide background reading for the Debate to be held on Thursday 21st January: 'To call attention to the prospects for multi-lateral nuclear disarmament and for strengthening nuclear non-proliferation' The Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will take place in May 2010. This Note summarises the main issues addressed in the Foreign Office information paper Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Creating the Conditions for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons and the Government's agenda for the Review Conference, as laid out in the Cabinet Office paper The Road to 2010: Addressing the Nuclear Question in the Twenty First Century. The Note also chronicles the main developments in the international community since the publication of these papers and summarises some of the contributions to the nuclear debate from a variety of sources, including the views of the UN Secretary General and the former Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
20.03.2009The potential for nuclear proliferation: debate on 26th March 2009. LLN 2009/003
The potential for nuclear proliferation. House of Lords Library Note 2009/003

POSTnotes

DateDescription
25.10.2016Nuclear Security
In 2016, the US President stated that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon was 'one of the greatest threats to global security'. This briefing provides an overview of the key threats to nuclear security, and of UK and international initiatives that seek to address them.
01.09.2016Managing the UK Plutonium Stockpile
This POSTnote describes the state of the plutonium stockpile, current plutonium policy and the options for managing the plutonium: indefinite storage, reuse in UK power plants, conversion to fuel to send overseas and disposal as waste. It then outlines the safety, security, economic and energy policy implications of these options.
01.06.1992Disposal of the CIS nuclear weapons
This POSTnote discusses the safe dismantling of nuclear weapons, what may be done with the materials resulting and related policy issues. POSTnote 35. POST. 1992.

Select Committee Reports

DateDescription
07.07.2011Government response to the first joint report from the Business, Innovation and Skills, Defence, Foreign...
Government response. Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
22.03.2011Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2011): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2009, Quarterly Reports...
Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
12.10.2010Government response to the first joint report from the Business, Innovation and Skills, Defence, Foreign...
Government response. Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
16.03.2010Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2010): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2008, Quarterly Reports...
Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
22.10.2009Scrutiny of arms export controls (2009).
Government response. Ministry of Defence; Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Department for International Development; Department for Business, Innovation and Skills report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

DateDescription
11.01.2012WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION FREE ZONE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
That this House welcomes the Government's support for the establishment of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East since the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review ...
07.11.2011CLUSTER MUNITIONS
That this House recalls the historic agreement reached in Dublin on 28 May 2008 creating the international convention prohibiting the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of all ...
02.11.2011ETA CEASEFIRE
That this House welcomes the recent declaration by the Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) of a permanent and verifiable ceasefire at the Donastia-San Sebastian Peace Conference; ...
12.09.2011ARMS TRADE
That this House notes that the arms export priority markets for the UK Trade and Investment's Defence and Security Organisation in 2010-11 included Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi ...
23.06.2011NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION
That this House welcomes President Obama's statement to Parliament during his recent state visit that the United States `will meet its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation ...

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses