Don't pre-empt disarmament talks with Trident replacement, says CND
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has welcomed Gordon Brown's comments in support of multilateral nuclear disarmament, made at the G8 summit. But CND cautioned that continuing with Trident replacement was already placing a costly obstacle in the way of achieving the aspirations shared by Mr Brown, President Obama, and other world leaders. CND reiterated the growing call for Trident to be included in the upcoming Defence Review. Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said "We welcome the many positive developments on reducing nuclear tensions that have been sparked by Obama's meeting with Medvedev. Mr Brown's comments form part of this, but the real test is whether he is prepared to take the steps necessary to ensure Britain's pursuit of Trident replacement doesn't end up damaging the chances of a multilateral deal.
"These next twelve months could be a real turning point for disarmament and non-proliferation, with Obama's Washington summit in March and the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference a month later. In this context it seems perverse that the Government has specifically excluded Trident from its upcoming Defence Review. Voices from across the political spectrum have called for an urgent reassessment of the decision to plough ahead with the £76bn Trident Replacement, not only as budgets come under increasing strain but also given the global push towards full nuclear abolition. CND agrees with the senior armed-forces figures who described Trident as 'militarily useless'. At the very least the Review should be questioning the maintenance of Britain's Cold War posture: we have a nuclear-armed submarine on patrol and ready to fire 365 days a year, regardless of international tensions. It is a disgrace that Gordon Brown is set to release billions for new submarines during the Parliamentary recess this September, against the recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Committee and 160 back-benchers [notes 3 and 4], whilst at the same time ignoring the chance to review the need for the system.
"The Prime Minister is also mistaken when he says 'the whole point of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is that those people who have weapons will be willing to reduce them as far as is possible' - the UK's binding legal commitment under article VI of the NPT is to undertake complete nuclear disarmament, not merely reductions to a lower level [see note 5]. If Britain is serious about convincing Iran and others to buy-in to the NPT, we must not make false claims about our own end of the bargain. Iran has already cited Trident replacement as a major point of concern during NPT negotiations [see note 6]. Britain should not allow a hugely expensive relic of the Cold War to become the sticking point which prevents defusing the crisis that could spark the next major conflict. We don't need it, we can't afford it and we can contribute better to a more peaceful world by scrapping it now."
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