The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today welcomed the statement by Foreign Office Minister Meg Munn confirming a new emphasis in Government nuclear policy, stressing the importance of disarmament by established nuclear weapons states, as well as the prioritisation of counter-proliferation favoured by the previous government.
Margaret Beckett announced the shift away from prioritising only counter-proliferation in her final days as Foreign Secretary in a speech in Washington, said to have been approved by Gordon Brown. But today marked the first time that a minister in the new administration has confirmed this to be the ongoing policy.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall adjournment debate earlier today Parliamentary Undersecretary of State Meg Munn MP said “Any solution must be a dual one that sees movement on both proliferation and disarmament – a revitalisation, in other words, of the grand bargain struck in 1968, when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was established.” i.e. disarmament by existing nuclear weapons states in exchange for other states renouncing the development of such weapons.
Seemingly stating that the new government values Trident as a bargaining chip, more than for its military potential, she stated, “We are clear that when it becomes useful to include in any negotiations the one per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons that belong to the UK, we will willingly do so.”
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “CND welcomes the Minister’s comments. This confirmation of Margaret Beckett’s speech reflects a move by the Government towards taking multilateral disarmament more seriously. Meg Munn’s comment that the UK is willing to put all our nuclear weapons ‘on the table’ if it helps negotiations is a significant change from the position held during the Trident debate in March. At that time we were told they are a vital insurance policy against yet-to-emerge threats. Now there seems to be recognition that continued failure to disarm can have consequences for proliferation.
She continued, “Now we need action to kickstart multilateral talks. A key part of this is promoting disarmament between the US and Russia, and essential to that is pulling back from the Missile Defence system. This is a block on arms-control talks and an obstacle to constructive dialogue between the two major nuclear powers. Genuine dialogue will be a step on the way to our ultimate goal – a Nuclear Weapons Convention banning all such weapons.”