The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today expressed deepening concern at the huge increases in the financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. MPs will vote today on the MoD ‘Spring Supplementary Estimate’ which increases the budget for Afghanistan by 48% and Iraq by 52% compared to the estimates given only 3 months ago. Costs are doubled compared to the last financial year. Anti-war campaigners are preparing for a mass demonstration this Saturday, marking the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war.

A report published today by the Commons Defence Select Committee describes as “surprising” the increases, including a near doubling of capital costs in Iraq compared to the estimate of 3 months ago and a five-fold increase from indirect resource costs for both Iraq and Afghanistan compared to last year. Despite the draw-down of UK troops in Iraq costs have ballooned from £955m in the winter estimate to £1,449m in the latest figures.

When indirect costs of the operation are included the Iraq bill alone comes in at £1,648 million for the year, with the combined operational costs for the current financial year now forecast to reach £3.297bn – a 94% increase on the previous figure of £1.698bn.

The human cost of war will be marked this Saturday, 15th March in the demonstration jointly called by CND, the Stop the War Coalition and the British Muslim Initiative as part of the worldwide day of protest on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Demonstrations will take place from Washington to Beirut, from Sydney to Seoul.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “The human cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are clear with an estimated 655,000 dead in Iraq alone, but the opportunities lost by spending these billions on further destruction rather than on humanitarian reconstruction adds to the long list of tragedies unleashed by Bush’s wars. It is truly shocking that whilst UK troop levels in Iraq are decreasing, spending demands are up by over 50% – as the Defence Select Committee note, the scant detail of the MoD claim make democratic scrutiny impossible. The public should be told why billions are being diverted from public services to fighting an unwanted and unnecessary war.”

She continued, “This Saturday, as we approach the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war, we will be marching to say ‘No more deaths – no more destruction’. We would have hoped the disaster of Iraq, prompted by false intelligence, would have ruled out an even more ruinous war against Iran, but sadly the US and UK governments are moving down the discredited path towards military confrontation yet again.”

The demonstration this Saturday will assemble for a rally in Trafalgar Square at 12 noon, march down Whitehall, cross the river and return for final speeches in Parliament Square, so surrounding Parliament.

Prior coverage of preparations, including placard making, can be facilitated.


Notes to Editors:
For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
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.