A portrait photo of Kate Hudson
Dr Kate Hudson
CND General Secretary
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of CND since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation's Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.

As the risk of wider war in the Middle East escalates, and our government’s support for the Israeli state’s onslaught on the Palestinians continues in the face of international law, Britain’s long-running role in the region demands greater scrutiny.

British – and French – intervention in the Middle East long predates that of the US, motivated by resource interests and strategic geopolitical positioning. It really is a shocking catalogue, from the Sykes Picot Agreement of 1916 – the Anglo-French agreement to divide up the Ottoman Empire after the First World War; to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, supporting a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine without guaranteeing the political and national rights of the communities already living there. Then intervention in Iraq and Iran, notably the US/UK coup in Iran in 1953, overthrowing the democratically elected prime minister, Mossadegh, and the imposition of the brutal and corrupt Shah.

More recently the war on Iraq in 2003, in which Britain played a major role, against the expressed will of so much of its population, resulting in countless deaths and unleashing region-wide instability and violence.

One of the great dangers of the current war on Gaza is regional escalation leading to the use of Israeli nuclear weapons. Israel possesses a significant nuclear arsenal – in addition to its extensive and sophisticated conventional forces, outside of all international scrutiny or regulation.

Yet it comes under no sanction or condemnation from major powers, indeed its nuclear weapons have been enabled by the US and UK and their possession is condoned in a way that no other system outside NPT and IAEA scrutiny would be tolerated.

What has become clear is that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons allows it to act with impunity. Fear of nuclear attack by Israel inhibits the actions of other states, enabling it to continue its onslaught unimpeded.

A further destabilising factor has been the US withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran Nuclear Deal, negotiated by President Obama and President Rouhani of Iran in 2015. This ensured inspections of, and limits on, Iran’s nuclear power programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions on Iran. All was going well until Trump stepped in. He claimed the withdrawal was to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons – clearly nonsense, as that was what the Deal was doing! Trump walked away because he wished to reimpose sanctions on Iran – its economy was recovering and he wanted to weaken Iran, with the long-standing goal of pursuing regime change.

The intervention of Britain and its allies in the Middle East has got to stop. It has been an unmitigated disaster for over a century and now risks a widening conflagration, It’s time for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, based on sovereignty, justice and peace.