The report, published on the MOD Web site, claimed all mission critical computer systems, including those controlling weapons, would be compliant by September 1999. Defence Secretary George Robertson said: "The Year 2000 is a real issue, and we are under no illusions about its urgency and importance. Put simply, apart from our key operational commitments, it is the MOD's highest priority," he said.
Speaking at the London Readiness 2000 conference last month, Margaret Beckett, leader of the House of Commons and minister with overall responsibility for government Y2K preparedness, praised the MOD for the enormous amount of work that has been done to cope with the millennium bug. Talking about public concern about nuclear accidents, Beckett commented: "Weapons are more likely to not work than to go off unexpectedly."
The MOD has a mammoth task to ensure millennium readiness. Its Year 2000 programme is the largest of any government department, with 30,000 systems needing checks. Just over 1000 of these are critical to the UK's defence capabilities.
It has been suggested that the Army may be called upon to assist emergency services if there was widespread disruption over the millennium period. Robertson is keen to play this down. "We are keeping a very close watch on the preparations that others are making for the Year 2000, both at home and overseas. It is still too early to tell whether there will be any requirement for the Armed Forces to assist others. At the moment I see no need to raise existing readiness states of the Armed Forces in response to any general concern that exists over the Millennium Programme," he said: