United Kingdom Flag for United Kingdom

United Kingdom

The third country to test a nuclear weapon, 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 1950’s.

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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


  • 1941 "MAUD Report" showed feasibility of nuclear bomb
  • Currently modernizing sea-based deterrent with Dreadnought-class SSBNs4 and new warheads
  • Generates 14.5% of its energy 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 defensive bioweapons 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
  • Collaborated with France and Italy to develop an integrated anti-aircraft missile system


  • Widespread use 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 (BTWC)

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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