Stephen Hawking and other leading scientists urge MPs to vote against Trident renewal

Media release, 15 July 2016

In an open letter published today, world-renowned scientist Prof Stephen Hawking joins other leading UK scientists and engineers to call on MPs to vote against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons systems in a parliamentary vote scheduled for Monday 18th.

The letter highlights the continued global threat posed by nuclear weapons – including the UK’s. It argues that the risk from these weapons of mass destruction is increasing due to modernisation programmes by nuclear-armed nations and greater cyber-security threats. But it also points to recent progress in new UN-mandated multilateral nuclear disarmament talks. The UK government’s position, the letter says, “is to modernise Trident but not to take part in these multilateral negotiations.” The signatories call on MPs to press the government to change its position to help reduce nuclear risks.

The letter also points out that the weapons carried on a single British Trident submarine have an explosive power greater than all the bombs dropped in World War II and are enough to cause global climate disruption.

Other signatories of the letter include:

  • Prof Peter Higgs CH FRS, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2013 for his work on the sub-atomic particle now known as the Higgs boson;
  • Sir Michael Atiyah OM FRS, who has won numerous international awards for his work in mathematics; and
  • Prof Jenny Nelson FRS, who recently won the Faraday Medal for her work on the physics of solar cells.

The letter was organised by Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), a UK membership organisation concerned about the misuse of science and technology.

Dr Philip Webber, Chair of SGR and a signatory of the letter, said, "Sooner or later, as long as there are nuclear weapons ready to fire, they will be used. This will herald the end of humanity and the sham of deterrence. This is why MPs should vote against Trident renewal and the UK must join ongoing multilateral negotiations at the UN to dramatically reduce global numbers of the weapons."

The letter was published in Daily Telegraph.

Dr Stuart Parkinson, 07941 953640



  1. The letter and signatories can be viewed on the Telegraph website at: (scroll down for full letter)
    A shortened version appeared in the print edition of the newspaper, dated 15/07/16.
  2. A fully referenced version of the letter is available on the SGR website at:
  3. All signatories have signed in a personal capacity. Biographical information including the academic credentials can be found at:
    NB Prof Sir Tom Kibble FRS endorsed a earlier draft of this letter before his sad death in June.
  4. Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an independent UK membership organisation of about 750 scientists, engineers and others in related professions. 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: /
  5. SGR’s reports and other outputs on the nuclear weapons threat can be downloaded from: /projects/nuclear-weapons-threat-main-outputs
Stephen Hawking

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