UK plan to replace Trident nuclear warheads is revealed by US officials

The Government has committed to a multibillion-pound replacement of Trident with nuclear warheads based on US technology, Pentagon officials have revealed.

A US commander told a committee in the States of the UK's plans before ministers made an official announcement or informed MPs of the plans, it emerged on Saturday.

The Ministry of Defence went on to confirm that officials were working towards replacing the warheads after the admiral's testimony to a senate hearing surfaced.

US Strategic Command commander Admiral Charles Richard wrote in a statement first reported by the Observer that a replacement warhead called W93 or Mk7 was needed in the States.

He added: "This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom whose nuclear deterrent plays an absolutely vital role in Nato's overall defence posture."

The statement was made last week. It is understood that the Government has been unable to find the time to inform Parliament, which is in recess, but an official announcement will be made shortly.

The MoD's update to Parliament published shortly before Christmas did not confirm the upgrade.

"Work also continues to develop the evidence to support a Government decision when replacing the warhead," it said.

The plans were also referenced by a Pentagon under secretary of defence, Alan Shaffer, who said "it's wonderful that the UK is working on a new warhead at the same time", according to US publication Defense Daily last week.

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Inside Chernobyl's nuclear ghost town
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Inside Chernobyl's nuclear ghost town
A Ferris Wheel is seen in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A view of the abandoned city of Pripyat is seen near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A vintage doll, which was placed by a visitor, is seen on a bed at a kindergarten near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine April 5, 2017. Picture taken April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Vintage dolls, which were placed by a visitor, are seen on beds at a kindergarten near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine April 5, 2017. Picture taken April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Vintage toys are seen at a kindergarten near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine April 5, 2017. Picture taken April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Vintage toys are seen at a kindergarten near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine April 5, 2017. Picture taken April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is seen from Ukraine's abandoned town of Pripyat, Ukraine, April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is seen from Ukraine's abandoned town of Pripyat, Ukraine, April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Moss is seen growing on a child's slipper in the ghost town of Pripyat which was evacuated after an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine April 18, 2016. For residents of Chernobyl, a three-day evacuation turned into a thirty-year exile. Returning to their hometown of Pripyat on the eve of the anniversary, they recall their confusion and sacrifice in the wake of the world's worst nuclear accident. In the morning of April 26, 1986, one couldn't immediately tell that a meltdown in reactor 4 of the nuclear plant in then-Soviet Ukraine was poisoning the air with deadly radioactive particles. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich SEARCH "RETURN PRIPYAT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A view of the abandoned city of Pripyat is seen near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor (L) and the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure (R) at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant are seen from Ukraine's abandoned town of Pripyat, Ukraine, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A view of the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A view of an amusement park in the centre of the abandoned town of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A view of the abandoned city of Pripyat is seen near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A dog is seen in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A ferris wheel is seen in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A shoe for children is left in a kindergarten in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A view of the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A view of the abandoned city of Pripyat is seen near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
The coat of arms of the former Soviet Union is seen on the roof of a house in the abandoned city of Pripyat near Chernobyl nuclear power plant April 23, 2013. Ukraine will mark the 27th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the world's worst civil nuclear accident, on April 26. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY ANNIVERSARY)
A clock is seen on a wall at a swimming pool in Ukraine's ghost town of Pripyat, which was evacuated after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, April 13, 2006. Ukraine prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster, when a reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded, spreading a radioactive cloud across Europe and the Soviet Union. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A picture of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin is seen through wild flowers inside a hospital in the abandoned town of Pripyat, in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant March 31, 2006. [Around 50,000 Pripyat residents were evacuated after the disaster, taking only few belongings. Ukraine is preparing to mark the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster, when a reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded, spreading radioactivity across Europe and the Soviet Union. ]
Medical equipment lies idle in front of a hospital in the abandoned town of Pripyat, in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant March 31, 2006. [Around 50,000 Pripyat residents were evacuated after the disaster, taking only few belongings. Ukraine is preparing to mark the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster, when a reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded, spreading radioactivity across Europe and the Soviet Union.]
A view of an amusement park in the centre of the abandoned town of Pripyat, in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant March 31, 2006. Around 50,000 Pripyat residents were evacuated after the disaster, taking only few belongings. Ukraine is preparing to mark the 20th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster, when a reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded, spreading radioactivity across Europe and the Soviet Union. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
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An MoD spokeswoman said: "As previously stated in the 2015 defence review, we can confirm that we are working towards replacing the warhead.

"We have a strong defence relationship with the US and will continue to remain compatible with the US Trident missile.

"An announcement about the UK's replacement warhead programme will be made in due course."

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