The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today welcomed the formation of a new grouping of ex-ministers and retired senior military officers calling for multilateral nuclear disarmament. The group, which echoes that formed by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, is part of a growing movement of senior politicians from across the political spectrum who are highlighting the urgency of moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
The announcement of the group's formation comes at a time of renewed debate about the £76bn project to replace the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system. A ComRes/Independent opinion poll released yesterday yet again showed a majority of voters in favour of scrapping Trident by 58 to 35%.
The 'Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation' includes former Labour ministers Des Browne, Margaret Beckett, John Reid and Lord Robertson; senior Conservatives Malcolm Rifkind and Michael Ancram; and three former chiefs of the defence staff, General Lord Guthrie, Field Marshal Lord Inge and Admiral Lord Boyce. Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams, an internationally acknowledged expert in this area, will also join the group.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said "The formation of such a high-level coalition underlines the urgency of the task facing governments, the UK included, to ensure progress on disarmament. Serious steps must be taken towards disarmament otherwise we will see the further spread of these most dangerous of weapons. The cross-party nature of this group shows how nuclear disarmament is taken increasingly seriously across the political spectrum. It is now vital that the leaders of the parties represented in this group also fully support its goals."
"We strongly support the group's goal of reaching a common European position on the withdrawal of the remaining 200 US nuclear weapons in Europe. Rapidly reaching a consensus on this could feed into the current re-writing of NATO's 'strategic concept'. The 'sharing' of US nuclear weapons with Germany, Belgium Holland, Italy and Turkey contradicts both the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and NATO's international non-proliferation policy. Any efforts which secure the removal of these weapons will be a positive step towards reducing tensions and de-nuclearising NATO."