UN summit

Brown promises to scale back Trident

World powers move to endorse Obama’s nuclear-free vision as PM offers to cut the number of Trident nuclear submarines

The leaders of the world's greatest powers, including the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are set tomorrow to endorse President Barack Obama's ambitious goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. According to the final draft of a resolution to be put to a rare summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the leaders will resolve "to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons".

In an overt show of support, Mr Brown will unveil plans to cut the number of Trident nuclear submarines from four to three. The Prime Minister will tell the special session of the Security Council, which also includes the leaders of France, Russia and China, that he is "prepared to consider" the move. Mr Obama convened the extraordinary summit-level session of the Council to give impetus to his mission to denuclearise the planet as the crisis surrounding Iran and North Korea and their rush to acquire atomic weapons appears to be deepening. The text of the resolution, seen by The Independent, is likely to be hailed as a breakthrough by campaigning groups. President Obama first spelled out his dream of counting down to a nuclear-free world in a speech in Prague at the end of March. For his proposal now to be adopted formally by the UN Security Council amounts to a significant endorsement by the world's leading powers. It is given added weight by the support of the non permanent members of the council, including Vietnam, Japan, Mexico Turkey and Libya, which was until recently an aspiring nuclear state.



"The only way to eliminate the nuclear threat is to eliminate all nuclear weapons," former US Ambassador Thomas Pickering of the Global Zero campaigning group said last night. "The Security Council's endorsement of this goal would be another great step toward an international consensus on working together to achieve this important objective."

In Britain, Trident is due to be upgraded in a £25bn programme approved by the Tony Blair's government with the backing of then-Chancellor Brown. The UK's arsenal of warheads has already been cut from 200 to 160 and scrapping one boat would not mean it could be cut further as the Government's policy is to retain the minimum number needed for an effective deterrent. A final decision will rest with the full Cabinet, but Mr Brown's plan looks certain to be approved. His aides insisted the aim to ensure Britain played its full part in global disarmament talks rather than simply a way to save up to £5bn. However, the planned scaling down of Trident is the most graphic sign of the public spending cuts to which Mr Brown committed himself last week to balance the nation's books.



By restating his commitment to retaining Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, he will disappoint critics who describe Trident as a Cold War relic. Aides described that as "non-negotiable" because of the threat that a rogue state might acquire nuclear weapons.

Tomorrow will see only the fifth Security Council meeting at heads-of-government level – and the first with a US president in the chair. The draft resolution congratulates the commitment made by the US and Russia to cut their arsenals further as they renegotiate the 1991 START treaty that is soon to expire. As in Prague, the resolution will also reaffirm the importance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which comes up for review in May and cautions against nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists. The leaders, it says, are "gravely concerned about the threat of nuclear terrorism".

Also in the text are clear warnings to Iran and North Korea as they continue to defy calls to relinquish their nuclear programmes. It expresses "particular concern at the current major challenges to the non-proliferation regime" and demands the "parties concerned comply fully with their obligations". Efforts by Britain and the UN to name Iran and North Korea in the text were thwarted by Russia and China. Indeed, the worsening stand-off with Iran threatens to eclipse the adoption of the resolution tomorrow.

Ominously, Iran's energy agency chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced yesterday that his scientists had perfected a new generation of centrifuges for enriching uranium and is testing them. "Chains of 10 centrifuges are now under test and will be gradually increased," he said. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will also address the UN general Assembly today has repeated in recent days that he will not cede the "sovereign right" to develop nuclear technology, which he says is strictly civilian in nature.

The firebrand leader's hand may be strengthened if the coalition of Western countries pushing for new sanctions against Iran weakened. Last night, the consensus appeared to be in jeopardy after France's Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, indicated that he would not support a US proposal to impede Iranian imports of refined fuel. "It is not my favourite at all," he said of such a step, saying it would "be a step to a full-blown blockade".

The five permanent members of the Security Council, joined by Germany, are set to discuss their position ahead of new talks with Iran that have been set for 1 October in Geneva. The US has quietly promoted the idea of a petrol embargo against Iran as the punishment that would have the biggest chance of hurting the regime.

Diplomats had thought their biggest challenge would be to persuade Russia and China of the wisdom of such a harsh move. Wobbling by France will take them by surprise and infuriate Israel, which has been threatening a military strike against Iran's nuclear power sites.

Factfile: Trident

Primary Function: Strategic Nuclear Deterrence

Entered service in 1994

Length: 13m

Weight: 58,500kg

Diameter: 1.9m

Range: More than 4,600 miles

Power plant: Three stage solid propellant rocket

Quantity: Fewer than 160 operationally available nuclear warheads, according to the National Audit Office

The UK deploys 16 missiles on each of its four Vanguard-class submarines

Destructive power: estimated as the equivalent of eight Hiroshimas.

Top speed: 6,096 metres per second

Cost: £16.8m per missile

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn