Foreign Affairs Committee: Global Security, Non-Proliferation
This all-party Select Committee Report (published 14th June) is couched in polite parliamentary language but is a remarkably hard-hitting document containing many categorical criticisms of government policy, plus many requests for “better explanation” of the apparently inexplicable. Key points are summarised as follows and the full document can be found on the Internet at http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/foreign_affairs_committee.cfm
- The five recognised nuclear powers are often perceived as a group by the non-nuclear weapons states, and, as such, the group is seen collectively to have failed to live up to its nuclear disarmament commitments.
- This undermines prospects for containing nuclear proliferation.
- We call on all five of the recognised nuclear weapons states to commit to further progress on nuclear disarmament.
- Restricting the finance available to those intending to proliferate nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems is a potentially effective mechanism to achieve non-proliferation aims.
- The government is correct to identify the international nuclear non-proliferation regime as being under severe strain. The 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is critical.
- It is incongruous for the Government to wish to see an expansion of IAEA verification work while ruling out an increase in UK funding.
- The Government should consider whether encouraging greater transparency and nuclear disarmament measures by Israel, in public or in private, might improve the regional security situation, and begin to move Israel towards the Government’s stated goals of Israeli accession to the NPT and the establishment of a WMD-free Middle East.
- The US-India deal on civil nuclear cooperation agreement undermines one of the central bargains of the international non-proliferation regime, namely that access to nuclear power for civil purposes is due only to states which do not develop nuclear weapons and place all their declared nuclear facilities under international safeguards.
- The Government should aim to come away from the 2010 NPT Review Conference with agreement on a concrete plan to take the multilateral nuclear disarmament process forward, with target dates for specific steps, and with the political commitment from all nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states.
- The decision to renew the UK’s Trident system is perceived by some foreign states and some among the British public as appearing to contradict the Government’s declared commitment to strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. We recommend that the Government should intensify its public diplomacy work better to explain the reasons for the Trident renewal decision and to give greater prominence to its work for multilateral nuclear disarmament and arms control. The Government should update us on the progress of the timetable for renewal of the Trident submarines. We recommend that the Government should not take any decision at the Initial Gate stage until Parliament has had the chance to scrutinise the matter in a debate.
- It is difficult to assess the Government’s claim that it retains only a minimum nuclear deterrent in the absence of further information about the process by which it judges this minimum. We therefore recommend that the Government should explain in greater detail the process by which it determines that the current scale and operational arrangements of the Trident force constitute the UK’s minimum nuclear deterrent.
- The Government’s confirmation of its willingness to include the UK’s nuclear force in multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations is to be welcomed. The Government should give greater prominence to this commitment in its public diplomacy. The Government should specify the state of a multilateral nuclear disarmament process that would trigger UK participation. The Government should specify whether there are circumstances under which the UK would be prepared to suspend the Trident renewal programme.
- The goal of a nuclear weapons-free world is gathering more serious international political support that at any time since the end of the Cold War.
- The FCO should set out its attitude to a possible Nuclear Weapons Convention banning such weapons, including the relationship which it sees between such a Convention, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its stated goal of elimination of nuclear weapons.
- The agreement reached in May 2009 on a Programme of Work for the UN Conference on Disarmament, after over twelve years of deadlock, is an important signal of the renewed prospects for multilateral arms control which appear to have followed the election of President Obama and, as such, is greatly to be welcomed.
- Unless pursued with political sensitivity, the effort to limit non-nuclear weapons states’ access to the full nuclear fuel cycle risks reproducing the discrimination which it is claimed exists in relation to the possession of nuclear weapons. As such, this aim risks undermining other elements of the nuclear non-proliferation effort.
- The proliferation of ballistic missile technology is a significant security concern. Stronger action is required to curb the international transfer of ballistic missile technology. The Government should set out specific steps which it plans to take to this end.
- We are not convinced that, as they are currently envisaged and under current circumstances, the United States’ planned ballistic missile defence (BMD) deployments in the Czech Republic and Poland represent a net gain for European security. We conclude that if the deployments are carried out in the face of opposition from Russia, this could be highly detrimental to NATO’s overall security interests. BMD in Europe should be developed, if at all, as a joint system between the US, NATO and Russia. Given the Government’s stated commitment to a rules-based international system, we further conclude that its early agreement to the inclusion of RAF Fylingdales and Menwith Hill in the US BMD system involved its abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Government should state whether any changes made to the planned US BMD deployments in the Czech Republic and Poland would affect RAF Fylingdales or Menwith Hill. The uncertainty surrounding prospects for the US European BMD system has made a Parliamentary debate on this issue all the more necessary.
On June 13th Joanna and I, with the assistance of two drivers, went to the Mitcham Carnival with boxes and boxes of plants (so what’s new, you’re all saying) and lots of boxes of brac-à-brac too. Well, nothing ventured.
Throughout the day Joanna and I served valiantly to numerous citizens of Mitcham — and although it was quite tiring, it was really a delightful day. No unpleasantness (OK, the music could have been turned down — a lot), lots of really nice people coming to chat, to buy, to haggle, and we had the invaluable help of Helen Jones, George Marsh and Marie Claude, one of Joanna’s students who left her own stall and stayed with us almost the whole day.
We ended up making a nice bit of money, but more than that we made new friends, and — thanks to Helen’s valiant efforts — gathered many signatures for our ‘No Trident Replacement’ petition, including that of the mayor!
It was a long day, but one that I truly enjoyed. We will definitely do it again next year, with ear plugs!
AGM and Garden Party July 14th 3pm
As last year, our AGM will be combined with the annual Garden Party at 43 Wilton Grove from 3pm onwards. Please bring food to share.
Essential business will be conducted as soon as we are quorate, leaving plenty of time for reviewing the past year and planning for the future — as well as socialising and enjoying ourselves.
The WDC/CND book sale held on June 28th in the front garden of 43 Wilton Grove was a modest success, raising £126 and shifting large numbers of accumulated books from the Bazley garage. An especial debt of gratitude goes to the valiant team of ‘sorters’ who checked the contents of every single box in advance, classified what was saleable and weeded out the unsaleable. Kathleen provided a delicious buffet lunch and took away a car-load of books.
A second team worked throughout the day on June 28th itself and we are grateful to you all: the impressive pile of empty boxes at the end of the day said it all.
Bruce Kent and Kate Hudson
The room was full at the Mansel Road Centre on June 4th. The clash of dates with the European elections meant that party political activists were unable to be with us but it was good to see many fresh faces in the audience: a tribute to the drawing power of our two national speakers.
“Nuclear weapons: time to get rid of the lot?” was the theme of the evening. Bruce sketched in the ‘big picture’ (historical and global context), making links with the environmental and anti-poverty campaigns. War is the major cause of Third World poverty, but big aid organisations such as Oxfam etc. have historically been wary of taking on politically sensitive issues for fear of deterring potential donors, and contravening the terms of their charitable status. Nuclear weapons can be ‘disinvented’ (i.e. got rid of) — unlike climate change — and the money saved can be spent more usefully. These are political decisions and in a democracy politicians are supposed to be our servants not our masters.
Bruce is passionate about ‘peace education’ and has found that many young people have no concept of what nuclear weapons can do. CND is actively looking to recruit more volunteers to develop links with local schools and anyone interested should phone 020 7700 2393 and ask to speak to the Peace Education Worker.
Kate spoke in greater detail about the UK political context and current campaigning, suggesting that opposing Trident could become a ‘vote-winning’ position for the mainstream parties. A post-general election parliament will inevitably be radically different and CND will have to rebuild its support amongst new M.P.s. There is a very real chance that Caroline Lucas (Green M.E.P. standing in Brighton) could get into Westminster. It is important that we lobby every individual M.P. prior to the election. In the current economic climate the financial arguments against renewing Trident are extremely powerful and many M.P.s remain ignorant of the basic facts. 2010 sees the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and we can at least ensure that all M.P.s are aware of the terms of the Treaty and of the existence of a draft Nuclear Weapons Convention.
The evening was completed with questions and lively general discussion and we all emerged stimulated and with renewed determination — and three new members were made.
Report by Joanna
How to get stopped/searched by the Police (under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, 2000)
All you need to do, as I discovered to my astonishment, is to distribute leaflets advertising our Fête, with CND campaigning leaflets, in the town centre of Wimbledon! Of all the police attention I have attracted in campaigning I think this gets the top prize for the abuse of police power; absolutely unnecessary, and a waste of police time. However the officer who stopped/searched me was courteous and as reasonable as could be expected.
We should not let this deter us from working for disarmament and peace. The police have the aim “working together for a safer London”. They should understand that we in the peace movement are trying to extend this honourable aim to the whole world.
Please can we have some volunteers
- to help with leafleting on Sat/Sun August 1st/2nd at the Mela World Party in Lloyd Park, Croydon (meet Lloyd Park tram stop at 11am)
- to help with the transport of goods and running the stall at the Environmental Fair, Ruskin Park, Carshalton, on August Bank Holiday.
N.B. both these are ‘Umbrella Group’ events with CND colleagues from across South London.
Return to Newsletter index