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Trident Info Offered in START Deal

The Telegraph is reporting on a new Wikileaks cable (the full text of which is here), suggesting that Russia’s approval for the new START treaty was given on condition that the US release information on the Trident nuclear missiles it had delivered to Britain.  Such an agreement ‘risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal‘, and could prove an embarrassment to Britain, who ‘has sought to maintain some secrecy to compensate for the relatively small size of its arsenal.

Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.

Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers said: “This appears to be significant because while the UK has announced how many missiles it possesses, there has been no way for the Russians to verify this. Over time, the unique identifiers will provide them with another data point to gauge the size of the British arsenal.”