For immediate release: 26 July 2006
CND today condemned the Government’s response to the Defence Select Committee Report The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the Strategic Context as ‘defensive’. In particular, the Government’s response defended the MoD’s refusal to appear before the Committee to give evidence and asserted that it had made ‘substantive contributions’ to its considerations.
The government continues to advance the disingenuous argument that it has engaged in the disarmament process because of its removal of the Chevaline and other outdated systems when it has done so by replacing older, higher yield warheads with the lower yield, but more flexible Trident warheads, which can hit more targets. Whilst responding briefly to a number of the items raised by the Committee’s Report, such as the size, role and independence of Britain’s nuclear weapons system, the Government had nothing new to say, reiterating its existing – and highly questionable – positions, including that the system is fully operationally independent.
The government also persisted in its argument of the need to face future rather than current threats. CND believes the current situation where the UK faces no nuclear superpower threat provides an opportunity to engage in disarmament and discussions toward multilateral disarmament – as required by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
On the timetabling of the decision the Government has repeated its position – that it will be taken this year. CND – and many others – take the view that this is insufficient time for a fully informed debate to take place, prior to a deciding vote in parliament. A Green Paper setting out all the options is absolutely necessary, given the immense significance of this issue for Britain’s security.
CND Chair Kate Hudson said:
‘The Government’s defensive attitude is regrettable. Given the significance of this issue for Britain’s security, it is essential that the Government really knuckles down to being open and transparent. Parliamentarians – and indeed the British public as a whole, must be made aware of all the issues and options with regard to the nuclear weapons system. A decision taken in indecent haste by the end of this year will not provide sufficient time for a full consideration of all the options – including the option of non-replacement. We are demanding a Green Paper before a full parliamentary debate and deciding vote in Parliament.’
Notes to Editor:
1. The Defence Select Committee wrote the report The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: the Strategic Context in preparation for the government decision on the replacement of UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system.f
2. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859.
3. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 32,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere