U.S. Firms to Get Controlling Stake in British Nuclear Weapons Complex

A California-based engineering firm said Wednesday that it purchased a one-third share of the entity responsible for building and maintaining the United Kingdom's nuclear warhead stockpile, the Financial Times reported (see GSN, Dec. 3).

Although the United States already produced British nuclear-weapon components, London has maintained the U.K. Atomic Weapons Establishment as an independent authority to oversee its arsenal. The government put its AWE share on the market in 2007 when top officials decided to dismantle British Nuclear Fuels, the state-run firm holding the stake.

Gerald Howarth, the British Conservative Party's "shadow defense minister," yesterday accused the ruling administration of seeking to keep the sale a secret by failing to disclose it to lawmakers.

“It is consistent with the government’s unwillingness to share matters nuclear with Parliament," he said. "It is not an issue about which we can be cavalier. We need to know what the implications are of this.”

British Nuclear Fuels co-owned the Atomic Weapons Establishment with U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the British firm Serco (Pfeifer/Barker, Financial Times, Dec. 19).

December 19, 2008
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A California-based engineering firm said Wednesday that it purchased a one-third share of the entity responsible for building and maintaining the United Kingdom's nuclear warhead stockpile, the Financial Times reported (see GSN, Dec. 3).