COMMENT    by Muriel Wood

During March and April the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Times, the Sunday Times and the Morning Star all commented on the planned U.S. National Missile Defence (NMD) system designed to shoot down long-range nuclear (or possibly chemical or biological) armed missiles. Some papers have questioned the need for such a system, others think that there is a rift between the MoD and the Foreign Office and that the plan has caused discord in NATO saying NMD would release a new arms race.

The NMD system is a radar controlled anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system and such systems are banned under the ABM Treaty between the U.S. and Russia. The fundamental objection to an ABM system is that if a state has both nuclear weapons and an effective ABM shield it will feel safe in the knowledge that it can’t be hit in return. It would then be in a position to use its own weapons in a first strike. An ABM system has always been seen as hostile rather than simply defensive and likely to provoke an arms race and increase international tension.

Britain in particular is deeply involved. Not only will the U.S. expect our political support but part of the projected control system and a radar will actually be sited here at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire.

In the 1990s concern grew in the U.S. at the possibility of missile attacks from so-called rogue states (North Korea, Libya, Iran and Iraq). A look at the map shows why Russia is deeply suspicious, as the upgraded radars in Greenland and Britain and a new one in Norway are irrelevant in terms of intercepting missiles launched from Korea or the Middle East. They are however directly placed to counter Russian-launched missiles. So Russia has threatened to put multiple warheads on its single warhead intercontinental missiles and has pointed out that they would now regard Fylingdales and Menwith Hill as legitimate nuclear targets.

The implication if this system goes ahead would mean either Russia will be forced to agree an almost complete revision of the 1972 ABM Treaty or the U.S. threatens to withdraw from the treaty.

The U.S. is putting the entire structure of international treaties at risk as well as plans for negotiating further treaties. The NMD system is incredibly expensive and will do enormous damage to the cause of nuclear non-proliferation.

What you can do

A “Point the Finger” card is enclosed with this newsletter. CND is hoping for a massive demonstration of public support for its actions at Fylingdales and Aldermaston. The general public must be made fully aware that Britain is playing an important part in U.S. plans to destroy the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, and even if you are not able to travel to the National CND actions your message can be taken there on your behalf. Please fill in the card and send to 162 Holloway Road, N7 8DQ now — before you forget!

House of Commons EDM 652


Tabled by Laura Moffat M.P. for Crawley
“That this House recognises that the only security from the threat of nuclear weapons is their global elimination under strict and effective international control; welcomes the fact that the United Kingdom had undertaken, under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament; endorses the view that the long-term viability of the non-proliferation régime requires the continued support of the United Kingdom; endorses the unanimous opinion of the International Court of Justice that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control; welcomes the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention submitted by Costa Rica to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 17th November 1997 as a work in progress setting forth the legal, technical and political issues that should be considered in order to obtain an actual nuclear weapons convention; and urges Her Majesty’s Government to initiate multilateral negotiations leading to the early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.”

We have written to Wimbledon M.P. Roger Casale asking him to sign this motion, which is wholly compatible with Government policy and we await his reply with interest.

Non-Proliferation Treaty Review

We have heard the headline news about the agreement reached by the nuclear powers in New York to eliminate their nuclear weapons, but it will not be until we see the small print that we shall know if this amounts to anything more significant than their Article VI commitment of the original treaty. An agreement without a timetable may be no more than a public relations exercise.

A meeting at the House of Commons on June 14th 7−8·30 pm offers a wonderful opportunity to hear Rebecca Johnson give a first hand account of the proceedings in New York. Rebecca is a fluent speaker and immensely knowledgeable.

Nuclear Power — the Answer to Global Warming?

Jim has drawn our attention to a provocative article in New Scientist [13·5·2000]: “Power Struggle — What are the odds that global warming will throw the nuclear industry a lifeline?”

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change will decide in November at a conference at the Hague whether or not nuclear power should be officially listed as one of the technologies under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) — a scheme dreamed up at the Kyoto summit whereby industrialized countries can offset their targets for reducing certain emissions by paying for non-polluting technologies in developing countries. The inclusion of nuclear power in the CDM would amount to a 40% subsidy of the capital cost of new nuclear installations in developing countries. A ministerial meeting in New York revealed a split between the pro-nuclear U.S., China, U.K., France, Canada and India, and the anti-nuclear Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

A report for the European Union by the London-based consultancy Environmental Resources Management, published in March, points out that simply maintaining nuclear power’s 23% share of the E.U.’s generating capacity would mean building 80 new power stations by 2025 to replace aging reactors. Britain and other industrialized nations are being accused of trying to foist a technology onto developing countries that they cannot sell to their own voters.

Fête of the Earth 2000

Financially this was the best Fête ever with total takings on the day of £1271. Numbers through the door were up on last year and the atmosphere was busy and happy. Customers were seen returning for more in the afternoon once they had discovered what good things we had to offer. Warmest thanks to all our helpers, and congratulations to the organising team — Jim, Muriel, Helen and Dorothy.

Quote of the day: “I don’t agree with your politics but I know that you sell jolly good plants”!

AGM Report

At the WDC/CND Annual General Meeting on May 9th all officers were re-elected as follows:

Chair & Membership SecretaryMuriel Wood
Contact Person & Newsletter EditorJoanna Bazley
Minutes SecretaryAnn Strauss
TreasurerJim Lindsay
The review of the year highlighted the enormous success of the Hague Appeal for Peace project which had involved young people and teachers from so many local schools. Jim presented his usual meticulous accounts and drew attention to the fact that we had over-spent our income by about £21 a month on average. While accepting that expenditure on the Hague Appeal (£700 prize money plus other expenses) had been an exceptional demand on our resources he was concerned that subscription income (£221·50) did not match Newsletter expenditure (£297). Therefore we make a special plea to everybody to pay their subscription for this year if it is still outstanding. (£4 per household or £2 unwaged, cheques payable to WDC/CND)

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