Ministry of Defence
200/98 July 30, 1998


All UK stocks of the RAF's WE177 free-fall nuclear bomb will have
been dismantled by the end of August 1998, George Robertson,
Secretary of State for Defence, announced today.

Earlier this month, the Strategic Defence Review re-affirmed the
Government's commitment to real reductions in Britain's nuclear
forces and greater openness across nuclear issues. In meeting these
pledges, the MoD has announced, in a response to Parliamentary
Questions from Harry Cohen MP (Leyton & Wanstead) and Alan Simpson MP
(Nottingham South), that all WE177 free-fall bombs will be dismantled
by the end of August 1998.

In addition, the transfer of remaining explosive material will be
accompanied by a consultative period with Local Authorities, led by
the Environment Agency. Thereafter, the MoD intends to dispose of
this material using the standard, approved method.

In March this year, the MoD announced the withdrawal from service of
the WE177, leaving Trident as Britain's sole nuclear system. The
Strategic Defence Review outlined plans to further reduce nuclear
stocks, and maintain fewer than 200 operationally available warheads.

For the first time, and according to the new principles of openness,
the number of warheads deployed on each Trident submarine and their
operational posture was confirmed. In addition, the UK became the
first nuclear weapon state to declare the size of its fissile
material stocks.

Openess about progress in the dismantling of WE177 demonstrates the
MoD's serious commitment to the pledges of the Strategic Defence
Review, and the determined work towards the ultimate goal of global
elimination of nuclear weapons.