“America’s broken nuclear promises endanger us all”
This was the title of a powerful article by Robin Cook published in the national Guardian (27.5.2005):
“Not a day goes by without a member of team Bush lecturing us on the threat from weapons of mass destruction and assuring us of the absolute primacy they give to tackling proliferation. How odd then that the review conference on the non-proliferation treaty will break up this evening... with no agreed conclusions. And how strange that no delegation should have worked harder to frustrate agreement on what needs to be done than the representatives of George Bush.”Robin Cook reckons that Britain scores reasonably well against the ‘13 steps’ benchmark of the 2000 NPT Review (“at least until Tony Blair proceeds as threatened to authorise construction of a new weapons system to replace Trident”) but this positive story “is obscured by our close identification with the Bush administration and our willingness in the review conference to lobby for understanding of their position. Their position is simply stated: obligations under the NPT are mandatory on other nations and voluntary on the US.” And “even while the review conference was sitting the White House asked Congress for funds to research a bunker-busting nuclear bomb... perversely the current régime in Washington does not perceive its development of nuclear weapons as an obstacle to multilateral agreement on proliferation, but as the unilateral means of stopping proliferation.”
“Previous review conferences... have been used as an important opportunity to regenerate support for the treaty. Not this time. The full weight of Washington diplomacy was focused on preventing any reference in the agenda to the commitments the Clinton administration gave to the last review conference. As a result the first two weeks of negotiation were taken up with arguing over the agenda, leaving barely one week for substantive talk.”
The main US aim at this conference was to avoid being criticised for not fulfilling their commitments under the last one. (After two weeks of discussion the US triumphantly succeeded in removing from the agenda all references to previous conferences.)
The vigorous ‘Mayors for Peace’ campaign led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was representing the hopes and fears of civil society in New York, is planning a conference of its own to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima, and it is from this conference that we can expect constructive and imaginative ideas on disarmament and non-proliferation to emerge.
Correspondence with our new M.P.
The following letter was sent on behalf of the group to Stephen Hammond M.P. on 9th May:
Dear Mr Hammond,Mr Hammond has replied noting our concerns and undertaking to bring them to the attention of the Foreign Secretary. We look forward to further correspondence on the subject.
I am writing on behalf of WDC/CND to congratulate you on becoming the new M.P. for Wimbledon. We look forward to a constructive dialogue with you in the years to come.
You will be aware that the Non-Proliferation Review Conference started in New York on May 2nd. We are very concerned about the inconsistencies inherent in the government’s nuclear policies and in particular about its non-compliance with the NPT.
We are informed that a decision will be taken during this Parliament about a replacement for Trident, and we should be grateful if you will point out to the Foreign Secretary that a commitment to get rid of nuclear weapons (Article VI of the NPT) surely prevents us from retaining them.
Please will you also ask Mr Straw which Article of the NPT gives the UK a right to continue to possess nuclear weapons?
For your information I enclose recent parliamentary answers which may provide useful background to these two points. I also enclose the text of the NPT and that of the 13 steps which were the much-lauded outcome of the 2000 Review Conference, during which Peter Hain played a pivotal rôle on behalf of the UK.
In Larger Freedom — towards development, security and human rights for all:
2005 is not “just another year” for the United Nations and the peoples of its 191 member states. And it’s not “just another anniversary” — the 60th. Above all, it is the year when governments and peoples need to decide whether to implement the platforms of action, declarations and treaties agreed over the years, notably at the major summits of the 1990s and the Millennium General Assembly.
The months before the General Assembly meets in September are crucial: hard decisions need to be taken. Concluding his most recent report, Kofi Annan quotes US President Franklin D Roosevelt calling on leaders for “the courage to fulfil [their] responsibilities in an admittedly imperfect world.” The Secretary-General also calls on the General Assembly to engage “much more actively” with civil society, as “the goals of the United Nations can only be achieved if civil society and Governments are fully engaged.”
Merton UNA’s contribution to focusing attention on the key questions at this time is a series of four Monday lunchtime workshops on the ‘In Larger Freedom’ report. All are Welcome.
Bring your lunch if you like from 12·30 or come for talk/discussion at 1·00–2·30. 11 Wilberforce House, 119 Worple Rd, London SW20 8ET. RSVP 8944 0574.
- 6 June:
Opportunity in 2005: Freedom from Want
A vision of collective security: Freedom from Fear
International rule of law: Freedom to Live in Dignity
Reforming global governance: Strengthening the UN
Fête of the Earth
We held this, our major annual fundraising event, on May 14th and once again it was hugely successful both financially and socially. Very many of you donated goods, made cakes, offered transport and came to help (and purchase!) on the day. Food was provided by the very efficient kitchen team led by Brigitte, and cake, books and bric-à-brac all made record profits. Plants once again raised over £700, and the grand total takings on the day were £1,420, exceeding last year’s excellent result. It was good that new Wimbledon M.P. Stephen Hammond found time to pop in, and we can all feel justifiably pleased with our efforts.
We helped pay some of the expenses of the ‘Let Vanunu Go’ international delegation which visited Israel in April, a year after the ‘nuclear whistle-blower’ was released from his 18-year detention in Ashkelon prison. The restrictions imposed on Mordechai after his release, including not being allowed to leave Israel or to talk to foreigners about Israel’s nuclear weapons or to travel outside East Jerusalem without permission, were due for renewal on 21st April. Despite pleas on Mordechai’s behalf from eminent international lawyers to the Knesset’s ‘Constitution, Law and Judiciary Committee’, new, more stringent restrictions were announced by the government even before waiting for the Committee to report. Mordechai is now forbidden to leave Israel for at least another year, he is forbidden to talk to anyone (not just ‘foreigners’) about nuclear weapons or Dimona, or even mention information that has been published, and forbidden to travel to the West Bank.
David Polden from London Region CND, who travelled with the delegation, writes “We had done our best but Mordechai is still not free!”
A Letter to the Prime Minister — Jo Wilding in Iraq
I suspected that going to see the world premiere of this film at the Barbican Cinema would be a harrowing, shocking, even traumatising experience; I expected that I would be angry and upset and I was. What I did not realise before I went was that I would be totally inspired and determined to spread the message of the film and the discussion to as many people as possible.
The film is about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. What makes it remarkable is that it is a very moving personal account by a young activist, Jo Wilding, of her involvement, first in the campaign to end sanctions, then to stop the war and occupation. We see Jo delivering her letter to Tony Blair, being marched off by police while protesting against the killing of Iraqi children, then actually in Iraq, where she witnessed firsthand the terrible impact of UK and US foreign policy on the ordinary people of Iraq. She visited areas which showed the extent of widespread indiscriminate bombing and which had brought tragedy to so many families. She was in Falluja during the first major US assault on the city in 2004 when she helped in hospitals, starved of resources, which were trying to cope with horrific injuries and grieving relatives. She was also co-founder of Circus to Iraq which visited schools in an attempt to bring some normality to the traumatised children of Iraq.
In her many discussions with the victims of the bombing, one question was constantly asked: “Why are the Americans doing this to us? We are not threatening George Bush. Yet our innocent children and family members have become the victims of this awful war.”
Many interesting facts emerged from the discussion that followed the film. Dr Eric Herring, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Bristol, spoke of the media bias, which did not report that 85% of all those killed in Iraq have been killed by the Coalition forces, nearly all of them as a direct result of air strikes. Small wonder that an opinion poll in Iraq showed that 80–90% of Iraqis believe that they have been occupied, not liberated by the Coalition forces.
Watch this space for local showings!
The Annual General Meeting of WDC/CND took place at the Community Centre on May 24th.
Elections were held for the committee as follows:
Chair: Maisie Carter
Muriel Wood, who is stepping down as Chair after very many years (although continuing as Membership Secretary), was warmly thanked. It was good to have three new volunteers for committee roles but more new blood is urgently needed!
Vice Chair: Dorothy Toohill
Secretary: Joanna Bazley
Treasurer: Jim Lindsay
Fête Treasurer: Julie Higgins
Minutes Secretaries: Ann Strauss and Patricia Lindsay
Membership Secretary: Muriel Wood
The Computer Age
One subject that was discussed at the AGM was the pressing need for WDC/CND to join the 21st century and move away from our sole reliance on formal meetings and paperwork. Obviously we shall continue to benefit from the current pattern of meetings and Newsletters which hold the group together, but we are very aware that there is a whole community out there, particularly of young people, whom we are failing to reach because of our absence of a website.
Is there anyone who has the knowledge (and time) to devote to the essential task of creating a WDC/CND website? — or who could advise us about how to go about it? Increasingly, when students are researching project work or investigating current affairs they turn to the Internet. Unless we can publish this Newsletter on the ‘web’ its readership will remain very small indeed.
It would also be useful if we could compile a directory of the e-mail addresses of members, to supplement the list of telephone numbers that we already hold. Please e-mail your details to me at <joanna@baz...>.
Please consider whether you can help in adding this essential new dimension to our campaigning.
An ultimate goal of the United States is a world which is free from the scourge of war and the dangers and burdens of armaments, in which the use of force has been subordinated to the rule of law, and in which international adjustments to a changing world are achieved peacefully.
President John F Kennedy, Proposed Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament, 1962
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