The Ministry of Defence funds two research organizations: the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). The review calls on DERA, which carries out non-nuclear R&D for the military, to increase its links with the commercial sector. The role of AWE, which supports Britain's nuclear capability, will be examined in greater detail over the next few months.

With a turnover of £1 billion and about 12, 000 staff, DERA is one of Europe's largest R&D organisations. Approximately £900 million of its work is billed to the MoD. The review sets up a Defence Diversification Agency within DERA to increase the transfer of technology transfer from the agency to companies in both the civil and defence sectors. A treasury scheme called Public--Private Partnership will be used to spread the costs of future research programmes between the MoD and the private sector.

The AWE currently has a budget of some £302 million according to the review. Over half of this, £168 million, is spent on maintenance, safety and environmental improvements to its production, testing, research and manufacturing facilities. Costs associated with the Trident nuclear weapon system account for a further £91 million. Another £11 million was spent dismantling old nuclear weapons in 1997/98. According to the MoD, the UK also holds 7.6 tonnes of plutonium, 21.9 tonnes of highly enriched uranium, and 15000 tonnes of other forms of uranium.

Although the UK has abandoned plans to develop any new nuclear weapons, AWE is expected to maintain its expertise in nuclear warhead design through a stockpile stewardship programme similar to that set up in the US. A large laser facility called HELEN that can generate conditions similar to those that exist in nuclear explosions is being built for these purposes. The MoD policy unit has also been instructed to present a report on technologies that the UK needs to have to monitor nuclear tests as part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.