United Kingdom Flag for United Kingdom

Country Spotlight

The UK is recognized as one of the five nuclear weapon states under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It currently possesses four ballistic missile submarines and has maintained a continuous deployment of nuclear weapons at sea since 1969. The UK abandoned its chemical and biological weapons programs in the 1950s.

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Region   Europe and Eurasia

225 Nuclear warheads

40 Maximum nuclear warheads per ballistic missile submarine

45 Nuclear weapons tests, most recently in 1991


  • Third country to test a nuclear weapon; has been a nuclear weapon state since 1952
  • Currently modernizing sea-based deterrent with Dreadnought-class SSBNs and new warheads
  • Generates 15% of its electricity with nuclear power

United Kingdom Nuclear Overview


  • Weaponized and experimented with pathogens from 1934 to 1956
  • Biological Weapons Act of 1974 banned biological weapon possession and deployment
  • Currently maintains a biodefense program


  • Each Vanguard-class SSBN fields up to 16 Trident II D5 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs)
  • Developed military industry with expertise building different missile types
  • Transferred Storm Shadow land-attack cruise missiles to Ukraine in 2023 for use in its war with Russia


  • Widespread use of chemical weapons in World War I
  • Stockpiled phosgene, mustard gas, and lewisite during World War II
  • Renounced and destroyed its chemical weapon program, beginning in 1958

Treaties and Regimes Memberships

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The NPT is a treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons through the three pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

The BTWC mandates the elimination of existing biological weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using biological and toxin weapons.

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Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires countries to destroy all chemical weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using chemical weapons.

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Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosion tests on Earth. It needs eight key countries to ratify before entry into force.

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