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Boris Johnson ‘violating international law’ with plan to build more nuclear weapons

Boris Johnson’s plan to increase the size of the UK’s nuclear weapons stockpile amounts to a violation of international law, campaigners and experts have warned.

The government’s integrated defence review said the UK would be lifting the cap on its nuclear arsenal by 40 per cent, to 260 warheads.

The UK had previously been committed to cutting its stockpile to 180 warheads by the mid-2020s, but the review said this policy would be changed “in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats”.

The announcement comes despite the UK being a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which commits the government to gradual nuclear disarmament under international law – a policy successive administrations have stuck to.

The review also says the UK reserves the right to withdraw assurances that it will not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear armed state “if the future threat of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological capabilities, or emerging technologies that could have a comparable impact, makes it necessary”.

The NPT rests on the promise of nuclear-armed states that they will never use nuclear weapons on a non-nuclear armed state, as an incentive for the latter not to seek to acquire its own arsenal.