Somebody told me that the UK cannot fire its nuclear weapons without the agreement and support from US. Is this true?

This claim is made in the following locations:

David Morrison - Britain’s “dependent” nuclear deterrent

There is some doubt about the degree of “operational” independence that Britain enjoys in respect of its nuclear weapons system. But there is no doubt that Britain is dependent on the US for the manufacture and maintenance of a key element of the system. So, to call it an “independent” nuclear deterrent, as the Government does all the time, is fraudulent.

The Guardian - Time to debate the alternatives to replacing Trident

The financial albatross called Trident is neither independent nor credible. Control was handed to Washington when the decision was made to use a missile delivery system designed, manufactured and overhauled in the US. Even submarine-launched test firings are conducted in US waters near Cape Canaveral under, needless to say, US Navy supervision. It is inconceivable that No 10 would fire Trident in anger without prior approval from the White House.

House of Commons Report on The independence of the UK's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent

the UK would, in practice, not be able to use its nuclear deterrent in circumstances in which the US was either neutral or actively opposed to UK policy, or where the US was an adversary.

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    The British nuclear arsenal consists of British warheads, over which the US have no control. Part of the launch vehicles are US built Trident missiles, but again the US has no control over them apart from being possibly able to stop supplying spare parts, but when they're launched you no longer need those anyway. – jwenting Aug 21 '13 at 19:46
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    @Sancho which says nothing whatsoever. So some supersecret thingy of unspecified nature that's impossible to remove and that nobody knows about who's involved with the missiles in any capacity. Conspiracy theory fodder. – jwenting Aug 22 '13 at 8:25
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    Letters page of The Guardian "The financial albatross called Trident is neither independent nor credible." - theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/jul/16/… – Tom77 Aug 22 '13 at 9:25
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    @Tom77: Thanks for the link, I edited the question together with a few more. – Enno Shioji Aug 22 '13 at 15:08
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    I think the question should be revised to make crystal clear (and provide sources) whether the claim is (A) that there is a treaty or other formal bilateral US-UK agreement that constrains UK use of Trident. or (B) That current and future UK governments would always voluntarily choose not to launch without prior US approval because of concern that the US might discontinue support for maintenance. (C) something else. – RedGrittyBrick Aug 22 '13 at 16:12

Wikipedia talks at length about the UK's "independent" nuclear deterrent.

This paper from 2006 ends with,

The plans set out in this White Paper will enable the UK to maintain an effective and operationally independent nuclear deterrent until the early 2040s, when the Trident D5 missile is due to be withdrawn from service.

This paper from 2012 is titled "Maintaining an effective, independent nuclear deterrent", and this page of it says,

the UK deterrent is operationally independent, and the UK does not require US or NATO authorisation to use its deterrent - UK nuclear weapons remain under political control at all times; only the Prime Minister can authorise the firing of UK nuclear weapons

  • Not according to that paper. – Publius Aug 21 '13 at 20:32
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    @Sancho Without any quote or reference in the OP, it's impossible to know the motive or details of the "claim". Perhaps, it is some kind of unfalsifiable conspiracy-theory claim? But I had to assume it was simply asking a mundane question which can be answered using publicly-available references. – ChrisW Aug 21 '13 at 20:34
  • What I mean is that the truth of that paper specifically precludes the notion that there are such technological measures. If you're doubting the veracity of the paper, why? – Publius Aug 21 '13 at 20:36
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    Well, perhaps theoretically there could be: for example with the consent of the UK, perhaps as part of some NATO treaty. But to contradict that, the UK government says specifically that there isn't any such dependence. Wikipedia says that "independence" has been continuous government policy since WWII. So what more is there to say? The evidence before me says, it's independent. – ChrisW Aug 21 '13 at 20:40
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    Hopefully people would remember to try diplomacy before the situation ever reached that stage: perhaps the UK wouldn't do it without consulting the US, but they are warning potential enemies that they could. – ChrisW Aug 21 '13 at 20:45

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