7 March 2005: For immediate release
CND welcomes this Report, which does not take a view on whether Britain’s nuclear weapons system should be retained and renewed. Rather, through its detailed investigations, the Report exposes the casual assertions and assumptions of the government’s White Paper, and discusses the crucial questions that are central to any decision on the future of the UK’s nuclear weapons system. We respond below to some of the key issues raised:
· Is a decision on the replacement of Trident necessary now? (CND’s view: No. Expert opinion indicates that the decision is being rushed, possibly for industrial reasons)
· Will a decision to replace Trident breach our obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith to achieve nuclear disarmament? (CND’s view: Yes. Legal opinion states this will be a material breach)
· Will government proposals encourage nuclear proliferation? (CND’s view: Yes. If some countries say we need nuclear weapons for our security, other countries will come to the same conclusion)
· Is there any substance to the government’s notion that nuclear weapons can act as an ‘insurance policy’ against an uncertain future? (CND’s view: No. To pursue nuclear weapons when we face no nuclear threat will provoke a new nuclear arms race and increase the dangers we face)
· What is the nature of the ‘vital interests’ that the UK’s nuclear weapons are intended to defend? (CND’s view: To use or threaten to use nuclear weapons is, under virtually every conceivable circumstance, illegal under humanitarian law. Use to pursue strategic or economic interests, implied by this term, would be absolutely illegal and such a policy lowers the threshold of nuclear use)
These are all issues that require widespread discussion and cannot be fully and adequately addressed in the seven days between the publication of the Report on March 7th and the debate and vote in parliament on March 14th. Furthermore, the Report issues a number of specific instructions and questions for the government, which also need to be addressed before the vote, some of which are outlined below:
· The decision must be based on the country’s strategic needs not on industrial factors
· The government must explain the implications of NATO’s first use policies for the UK’s nuclear weapons, which are assigned to NATO
Disarmament and non-proliferation:
· The government must provide a much stronger commitment to achieving nuclear non-proliferation and explain how it will give new momentum to stalled NPT discussions
· The government must provide detailed estimates of the likely costs involved, including of a life extension programme for the Trident missiles, and explain how it will fulfil its assurance that the cost of the nuclear weapons system will not come at the expense of the conventional forces
The government must now respond to these and other questions raised in the Report.
CND has called an emergency parliamentary lobby on 14th March, the day of the debate and vote on Trident replacement. CND has also organised a rally in Parliament Square from 6-8 pm on the day of the vote.
Notes to Editor:
1. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2. An ICM poll from June 2006 showed that 81% of the British public believes that any decision on Trident replacement should be made by Parliament, not the Prime Minister alone.
3. According to a July 2006 ICM poll, 59% of the British public opposes a replacement of Trident when presented with a cost of at least £25 billion.
4. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.