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Strategic Nuclear Weapons

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what strategic weapons are currently stationed on British soil, or in the British Fleet; what other weapons capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, either tactical or battlefield, are available to British Forces; what is the command structure for the use of each, respectively; whether any foreign Government is involved in such decisions; and whether, when such weapons are renewed, it is intended that they should remain exclusively under British control.

The only strategic weapons stationed on British soil or in the British Fleet are the United Kingdom's Polaris ballistic missiles. The following table shows United Kingdom-owned and operated systems which are capable of delivering United Kingdom and United States nuclear weapons:

United Kingdom weapons

Tactical aircraft

Vulcan bombers

Naval helicopters

United States weapons


Lance Missiles

Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft

All of them are declared to NATO, but nuclear weapons cannot be used without the authority of the owner Government. These arrangements are expected to continue as the delivery systems are replaced.