A skills shortage that has plagued the Trident nuclear weapons programme for a decade is posing a threat to safety, according to a new report from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The latest annual report from the MoD’s internal watchdog, the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR), warns that a persistent shortfall of suitably qualified and experienced nuclear engineers is “the principal threat to the delivery of nuclear safety”. The MoD stresses that measures are being taken to try and plug the gaps. But experts have told The Ferret that the pressures on nuclear staffing are going to get worse in the next few years with the scheduled replacement of Trident and the proposed expansion of civil nuclear power.
Defence Police guarding nuclear deterrent could be replaced by army. The police force that guards Britain’s nuclear arsenal is operating “at the limits of its resources” and further cuts would damage national security, a leading officer will warn. Chairman of the Defence Police Federation Eamon Keating was set to speak out as the civilian Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) faces a potential further reduction of 15% in its workforce and possibly being axed from guarding Trident warheads.
The armed Barrow-based ships Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret have returned home after transporting 331 kgs of plutonium and a quantity of highly enriched uranium from Japan to the US port of Charleston. As part of the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) initiative to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons-useable materials, the cargo is described as ‘posing a threat to national security, being susceptible to use in an improvised nuclear device and preventing a high risk of theft or diversion’. …..Despite official attempts to keep the contentious shipment ‘under the radar’, the ships’ movements were tracked by CORE, South Carolina’s Savannah River Site Watch (SRSW) and observer groups in Japan.