Total spending on UK nuclear weapons R&D revealed

Press release, 10 February 2014

A new analysis published today reveals the total UK government spending on research and development for nuclear weapons to be over £320 million per year.

The estimate includes R&D spending on: nuclear warheads at the Atomic Weapons Establishment; early development work for new ‘Successor’ submarines, planned to carry nuclear weapons well into the 2040s; and the nuclear propulsion system for those submarines. The figure covers the three financial years from 2008 to 2011, and is the latest that is publicly available.

The estimate is based on data obtained using freedom of information requests to the Ministry of Defence, together with further publicly available information.

The new analysis has been carried out by Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), a UK advocacy group.

The R&D spending for nuclear weapons systems is higher than that for any conventional weapons systems during this period.

It is also much higher than key areas of UK public spending on civilian R&D, including those which can help tackle drivers of political instability and armed conflict, such as climate change and energy insecurity. For example, the spending on nuclear weapons is five times higher than that on renewable energy.

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of SGR, said “These figures show that the UK government’s R&D priorities are distinctly warped. I cannot see how they can justify such high spending on developing new ways to deliver weapons of mass destruction, while areas as valuable as renewable energy development receive so much less public funding.”

Contact: Stuart Parkinson:  07 941 953 640; <>



1. SGR is an independent membership organisation of over 900 natural and social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. It was formed in 1992. SGR’s work is focused on several issues, including security and disarmament, climate change, sustainable energy, and who controls science and technology? For more information, see /

2. The full analysis is presented in UK nuclear weapons R&D spending: Addendum AA1 to Offensive Insecurity. A pdf copy can be downloaded from: /publications/uk-nuclear-weapons-rd-spending

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