The “special relationship” coined in reference to a speech which Winston Churchill gave in 1946. In an apparent new founding close friendship between the UK and the US. But is there a special relationship anymore between the United Kingdom and the United States? — In reference to US giving state secrets to another country without its permission. However is it really as simple as this? Read on.
It has emerged through a WikiLeaks cable gate leak that the US has negotiated through a initiative called “NEW Start” with Russia to hand over all of Britain’s nuclear serials to help identify exactly how many missiles the UK has.
According to The Telegraph and its sources, defence analysts have suggested that this document to which President Obama will sign next week is significant. This is because Britain has only disclosed how many warheads (160) it possesses while the exact amount of missiles is currently unverifiable. The article also states that in 2009 the US had lobbied the UK for permission to supply Russia with detailed information about the performance of UK missiles. Subsequently this was denied by the UK. However the US went ahead and agreed to hand over serial numbers for the Trident missiles handed over to Britain from the US.
Is it really significant?
In May 26th 2010 the Foreign Secretary William Hague (UK) stated that the UK had no more than 160 operationally available warheads while also announcing that the total number of warheads would not reach over 225. This is a relatively small amount in comparison to the amount of warheads the US and Russia possess. The warheads need to be deployed inside the Trident missile and there are no exact figures of how many missiles the UK possess. However the figure can be worked out if looked into. If you look at how many missiles the Vanguard nuclear submarines can carry (8) and how many we deploy (2 at any one time) while a third is on stand by, while also the amount of warheads the UK has (160). You can come up with a figure to assess how many nuclear missiles the UK can launch at any given time.
So hows the relationship?
The treaty between the US and Russia has to provide serials to the UK deterrents, since they are manufactured in the US and the US can’t be seen to be hiding nuclear missiles from Russia. If any treaty or improved relations are to go ahead then the US has to be fully transparent as to where their nuclear missiles go. This includes US trident missiles serials numbers being also given to the Russians as well as the UK’s. – Since the UK does not independently manufacture the Trident nuclear missile system, it comes under US policy on whether or not to release information on these missiles.
However it can be seen as a disappointment since it doesn’t seem that parliament was consulted or even when the UK refused in 2009, it did not seek any other talks with the UK about the release of this type of information. Which has put into question this idea of a “special relationship” between the two countries and whether the US respects the UK rights to a secret nuclear deterrent to which it has paid for in development costs and further purchasing costs.