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

Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone