COMMENT by Joanna Bazley

Teutates: the Anglo-French Nuclear Treaty

The ‘Teutates’ agreement was signed by David Cameron and President Sarkozy in November and presented as an exercise in military economy. We were told that we and the French have similar needs in the ‘stewardship’ of our nuclear arsenals, and that sharing research facilities will save expensive duplication. What was not stressed was that this treaty commits both nations to undertake a 50-year programme of cooperation on nuclear weapons technology at a new hydrodynamics research facility known as EPURE at Valduc in France, where conditions for underground nuclear testing can be simulated and the terms of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty neatly bypassed.

Teutates or Toutatis was a Celtic god of war, and someone at the FCO or MoD with a classical education (or perhaps a good acquaintance with Asterix the Gaul?) has displayed a cynical sense of humour in the choice of name. It is really asking too much to expect us to believe in the stewardship story.

If both governments are investing in cutting-edge technology and employing a new generation of nuclear scientists, they are effectively opening the way for the next generation of nuclear warheads: “one of the aims of the joint programme is to ensure both parties maintain expertise in the technical fields of warhead physics — an area of growing concern in the nuclear weapons arena as scientists with experience of warhead design and explosive nuclear testing grow old and retire” {Nuclear Information Service briefing note Nov 2010, Although both countries will retain the right to continue to conduct “sensitive work” in support of their own national programme in a secure environment, a statement from the Elysée spoke of creating a “climate of trust between teams conducive to scientific debate and challenge, to preserve the long-term quality and motivation of nuclear weapons scientists” [ibid].

Of course Britain and the US have been cooperating over nuclear weapons design and construction for years (ever since the US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement of 1958) and there has apparently been much discussion about the implications of Teutates on US-UK collaboration. In fact there has also been French-American collaboration and, according to Liam Fox’s statement to Parliament (Nov 2nd), “There has been keen discussion for some time about whether the relationship should be trilateral, given the cost of the programmes, but the decision has been taken that for the moment, the double bilateral relationship will continue.”

All of which suggests a very cosy relationship between the three Western nuclear weapons states, none of whom have the slightest intention of fulfilling their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. A fifty-year agreement to invest huge sums of money in the very latest nuclear weapons technology does not sound as if either France or Britain are “planning negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date” (article VI, NPT).

In fact it makes it clear that the current generation of politicians is happy to lock both countries into their prized status as ‘nuclear powers’ beyond the lifetime of all involved, and one is entitled to ask the question “why?” The text of the treaty has been “placed in the libraries of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords” (which is apparently the full requirement for ratification under parliamentary procedure in this country) and I have written to Wimbledon M.P. Stephen Hammond enclosing a copy of the NIS briefing and asking whether M.P.s will have the opportunity for debate. It is essential that the implications of the Treaty are fully understood by M.P.s and the wider public; a very useful seminar was convened last month by the UK and French members of Abolition 2000 to discuss ways forward.

Fête of the Earth, May 7th

Our big annual fund-raiser is coming up and we want it to be as successful as usual — we need our members’ help. Please think about what you can contribute in goods and time, in advance or on the day. Have a spring clear-out and make our bric-à-brac and book stalls the best ever, give a raffle prize or bake a cake for the freezer. Split plants in the garden and sow seeds, or simply offer your services to help with transport. The Fête is always a great social event as well as a money spinner and every single member needs to be part of it.

No to Cuts: March for the Alternative

Saturday March 26th is our big opportunity to raise the profile of our Trident campaign in the context of the growing opposition to the Government cuts. This TUC demonstration has already been well publicised and looks to be a huge event. CND and Stop the War want as many peace group banners there as possible, to bring home the message (to other marchers as well as the media) that if the Government spent less money on wars and weaponry there would be more to spare for the things we really need. Of course, we wouldn’t want nuclear weapons even if they were free, but we have the chance to seize the mood of the moment and we should take it.

Our banner will be outside Wimbledon railway station at 10·30am and we shall travel up to Waterloo for the assembly point on Victoria Embankment. There will be a rally in Hyde Park from 1·30pm onwards if anyone needs a shorter (and less exhausting!) day. We hope to see very many of you there.

Countdown to Zero

There will be a special preview of this new documentary, a compelling investigation into nuclear arms proliferation by Oscar nominee Lucy Walker, at the National Film Theatre, BFI Southbank, 8·15pm on Wednesday 16th March. Intelligent, detailed and fiercely argued, Countdown to Zero traces the history of atomic weapons from their origins to present day proliferation, and includes contributions from Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf and Tony Blair. It makes the compellingly bleak argument that without immediate worldwide disarmament we risk disaster on a daily basis from terrorism, failed diplomacy or even simple accident.

This screening is followed by a masterclass with director Lucy Walker, who is one of the world’s foremost documentary filmmakers and winner of Berlin, Sundance and AFI Awards.

Beating the Bomb

Those who missed our recent showing of the excellent new 90-minute documentary Beating the Bomb (see February Newsletter for review) will have a second chance at a meeting organised by Merton UNA on Thursday 24th March at 7·30pm. Venue: Flat 11, Wilberforce House, 119 Worple Road SW20 8ET. Contact 020 8944 0574 or for a place.

Lunchtime discussion in Kingston

Our neighbouring peace group, Kingston Peace Council/CND, can congratulate themselves on a very successful partnership with the Kingston Parish Church, which has an established tradition of Thursday lunchtime meetings. (Tea and coffee are provided and people bring their sandwiches.) The meetings on January 20th, 27th and February 3rd were on the subject of war and peace, with discussion of the Christian concepts of a “just war” (and the rôle of nuclear weapons within this concept) and “stewardship” of the planet, in its widest sense.

KPC/CND member Jim McCluskey (author of the excellent Nuclear Threat pamphlet) spoke on all three occasions. His opposite number on January 20th was the Rt. Rev. Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford (and former nuclear apologist, who seems to have had a considerable change of heart) which drew a sizeable audience, but the meeting which I attended on February 3rd (speaker: Martin Corner, an academic) was also impressively well-attended even without any ‘big name’. There is obviously an appetite for this type of intelligent discussion and for daytime meetings.

It would be good if we could launch something similar in Wimbledon. Kingston has the advantage that its beautiful old parish church is so central, but we plan to explore possible venues with sympathetic local clergy.

Bradford’s Travelling Peace Exhibitions

KPC/CND had taken the opportunity to hire one of the nine travelling exhibitions available from the Bradford Peace Museum for display in Kingston Parish Church to coincide with the series of lunchtime discussion meetings, Champions of Peace — Nobel’s Peace Prize: The First 100 Years (a critical appreciation of how the prize came about, some Nobel Peace prize winners and the controversies). We are working with Merton Council to see if we can find somewhere suitable for a display in Merton, perhaps to coincide with Peace Week in September, or United Nations Day in October. There are many titles to choose from including Women Peacemakers, Art from the History of the Peace Movement and the place of non-violence in tackling terrorism. (They can all be viewed on the Bradford website )

Subscriptions 2010/11

Many thanks to all who paid up promptly, and especial thanks to those who included generous donations with their subscriptions. If your subscription for the current year is still outstanding, a further form will be enclosed with this newsletter. We do aim for the newsletter to be self-financing through the subscriptions (£5 waged/£3 concessions) so that all other income can be devoted to campaigning. Cheques payable to WDC/CND please and sent to Treasurer Julie Higgins, 129 Chestnut Grove, London SW12 8JH.

A vanished world

A piece of history emerged from beneath the floorboards in Brigitte’s house recently: a copy of the Times of December 13th 1954 with an article by Our Diplomatic Correspondent entitled “Civil Control in Atomic War — Growing Demand — Issue of N.A.T.O. Talks this week”. Apparently “one of the principal subjects to be discussed” at a forthcoming meeting “concerns the right of the NATO military command to use nuclear weapons”: “So much has recently been said in military circles about the nature of future warfare that there is a growing demand in Europe for direct political control over the use of these weapons.... an agreement under which in the event of an attack on western Europe, all member nations will be consulted before nuclear weapons are used in defence.”

“In another world war, nuclear weapons will certainly be normal armament for both armies and air forces,” writes the Times Diplomatic Correspondent. “Not only can atomic weapons be fired from guns but a fighter bomber can now carry a bomb of much greater destructive capacity than the Hiroshima weapon.... There is ample evidence that the whole structure of NATO strategy is based upon the use of atomic weapons.... the United States Army is reported to have already passed the stage of the cumbersome atomic cannon and to be thinking in terms of tanks with atomic guns.... It may be difficult for NATO commanders to accept lay limitations upon a standard weapon of war and it will doubtless be equally difficult for the smaller nations of Western Europe, with no knowledge of or familiarity with atomic weapons, to accept a situation in which their precipitous use might lead to violent reprisals.”

This was the world which gave birth to CND. Thank you Brigitte.

New Trident Commission

On February 9th BASIC [British American Security Information Council] launched the BASIC Trident Commission, a panel of nine who will examine the issues surrounding the United Kingdom’s possession of nuclear weapons, with the purpose of making recommendations for future policy. The Co-chairs are Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne, former Labour Secretary of State for Defence), Sir Malcom Rifkind, former Conservative Defence and Foreign Secretary, and Sir Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and shadow Foreign Secretary. Other members of the Commission include Lord Guthrie, former Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British Ambassador to the United Nations and Lord Hennessy, historian of British nuclear policy.

The Commission will

The launch event in Parliament was attended by M.P.s, officials, experts and journalists. Contributors warmly welcomed the establishment of the Commission, which many thought was timely and had a big potential to influence the UK debate. During the session Nick Harvey, UK Defence Minister, remarked (of the foundations of the UK policy of continuous-at-sea deterrence) that “when you go looking for the paper trail, it is thin.”

The final report on the Commission’s findings is planned to come out in the first half of 2012.

What Nobel Really Wanted

The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted, a new book from Norwegian lawyer Fredrik S. Heffermehl, argues that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has not been respecting the will of Alfred Nobel, and concludes that only one of the ten prizes awarded since 1999 can be considered legitimate under Swedish and Norwegian law.

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