November 11, 2020

Developments Concerning the United Kingdom’s Atomic Weapons Establishment

On November 2 the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced its decision to nationalize AWE Plc, the company that manages and operates the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) under leadership by AWE Management Limited (AWE ML), a joint venture company of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp and Serco Group Plc. AWE is a nuclear weapons facility in the UK that is responsible for the development, production and maintenance of the country’s nuclear warheads. The Secretary of State for Defence made the following statement to Parliament: ‘MOD has concluded that AWE will revert to a direct Government ownership model. Under the revised arrangements, AWE plc will become an arms-length body wholly owned by the MOD. It will continue to be managed by a world-leading team and a new board will be appointed by the MOD. The new business model will see AWE plc continue to draw on private sector specialist support to strengthen capability as well as playing a key role in managing capital projects and contracts. […] The MOD, AWE ML and AWE plc will jointly manage the termination of the contract and the transition to the new arrangements, which are anticipated to be completed by the end of June 2021.’

AWE ML stated that it ‘has received notification from the Ministry of Defence of the termination of its Management and Operations contract from 30 June 2021’, adding that it ‘will continue to manage and operate the enterprise until 30 June 2021 and will work closely with the Ministry of Defence over that period to ensure a smooth transition and the seamless continuity of the vital work carried out by the enterprise.’ 


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