Britain reveals nuclear warhead levels

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Britain's new government revealed Wednesday the planned size of its nuclear weapons stockpile, saying it will not exceed 225 warheads.

In an announcement which comes near the end of a UN non-proliferation conference in New York, it said it will retain up to 160 operationally available warheads.

"We believe that the time is now right to be more open about the weapons we hold," Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament.

"We judge that this will assist in building a climate of trust between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states and contribute therefore to future efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons worldwide."

Previous announcements have acknowledged the existence of a margin above the operationally available warheads, but have not set out its size.

The United Nations nuclear non-proliferation review conference in New York is due to close on Friday.

The United States and France have previously made similar announcements of their total stockpile numbers.

© 2010 AFP

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