15 January 2007: for immediate release
Bruce Kent, Vice-President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, gave oral evidence today to the Defence Select Committee to open the committee’s third inquiry into the possible replacement of Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system. In this inquiry, the committee is looking at issues raised in the government’s white paper.
CND’s Alternative White Paper on Trident replacement discusses Britain’s international legal obligation to negotiate toward disarmament. According to Mr Kent, the time is right to begin good faith negotiations on disarmament. He said, “This is exactly the right time to get all countries with nuclear weapons or possible nuclear ambitions around the table in the context of calling for global negotiations on the abolition of nuclear weapons.”
Making the decision to replace Trident would send the wrong message to countries which may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Mr Kent said, “How can we possibly lecture other countries about acquiring nuclear weapons when we argue that nuclear weapons are essential for our security?”
Mr Kent criticised the lack of initiative by the British government in starting multilateral disarmament negotiations. Speaking after the evidence session he said, “I am shocked at the passivity of the government’s white paper. The government isn’t doing anything; it is just sitting around and watching history happen instead of working toward its treaty obligations. The requirement to negotiate in good faith toward nuclear disarmament isn’t even mentioned in the white paper.”
A recent YouGov poll released by CND last night shows that 64% of the British public believe that the government should support an international Convention banning all nuclear weapons. (2)
Mr Kent made a strong case for a full and open debate on the future of Britain’s nuclear weapons. He said, “I can see absolutely no reason why the major principles of the issue should not be discussed as widely as possible in a democracy. ‘Is this the right way to proceed for our security’ is not a closed-door issue; it should be an open-door issue.”
CND, the Stop the War Coalition, and the British Muslim Initiative are organising a national demonstration on Saturday 24th February, calling for ‘No Trident’ and ‘Troops Home from Iraq.’ It is expected to be Britain’s largest anti-nuclear demonstration in decades.