Ministry of Defence

15 July, 1999


Doug Henderson, Armed Forces Minister, today announced that
responsibility for the routine movement of nuclear weapons within the
United Kingdom is being transferred from the RAF to the Ministry of
Defence Police (MDP). The MDP will be supported by specialists from
the Atomic Weapons Establishment and the Royal Marines.

In keeping with the MoD's commitment to increased openness, this
transfer of responsibility was announced in answer to a Parliamentary
Question from Stephen McCabe MP (Birmingham Hall Green). Mr Henderson
said that an implementation team has been established to manage the
transfer which will be completed by 31 March 2002.

There are two primary reasons for the transfer. Firstly, from 31
March 1998, the RAF has not had a nuclear capability. The withdrawal
of their freefall nuclear bomb (WE-177) was part of the Government's
commitment to maintain only the minimum credible nuclear deterrent
which is vested in the Trident submarine fleet.

Secondly, the MDP is well qualified to assume this responsibility.
They have considerable experience in the management of sensitive
convoy operations. For many years, the MDP have safely, securely and
efficiently managed the transport of special nuclear materials.

The process will be managed in stages in recognition of the
importance and complexity of the task. The MoD will continue to
maintain the highest levels of safety and security during all convoy

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