The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today expressed its great disappointment at the missed opportunity represented by the Foreign Office’s policy information paper ‘Lifting the Nuclear Shadow’, launched by David Miliband. Published at a time of significant initiatives on nuclear weapons by the Obama administration, the document fails to outline any advance in the British position. The paper does not address the question of Trident Replacement which, at a likely cost in excess of £76 billion, is of key concern to British tax payers at a time of economic crisis.
At the launch event, Mr Miliband explained that the paper was intended to start a public debate and discussion rather than constituting a policy document. But campaigners have pointed out that a British debate on nuclear weapons which does not include the crucial issue of Trident is hollow. The paper states that Britain aims ‘to provide leadership to the international community on setting out the vision of where we need to go’ on this issue. But it is hard to see how Britain can simultaneously lead on disarmament and pursue Trident replacement at the same time. Replacing Trident will see Britain as a nuclear armed state to 2050 and beyond.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “While we welcome all initiatives that will contribute to nuclear disarmament, this document is a real missed opportunity. There is overwhelming global support for global nuclear abolition – the debate has already moved further than Mr Miliband seems to recognise. The fact is that Britain has been overtaken by the vision of the new US president. His intentions are on a par with those of Reagan and Gorbachev, who achieved the disarmament of thousands of nuclear weapons in the late 1980s. Mr Miliband’s ‘vision’ does not match up.”
She continued, “In his speech David Miliband sought to avoid the elephant in the room – that the UK is pursuing new Trident submarines that will last until the 2050s. He twice stated that he is a multilateralist not a unilateralist, but sticking to these old dogmas belongs to the past. President Obama is pursuing bilateral negotiations with Russia and wants global abolition, but he is simultaneously halting plans for new US warheads and calling for a review of the US Missile Defence programme. Our question for Mr Miliband today is: when will you call a halt to Trident Replacement and review Britain’s participation in Missile Defence?’