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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect