The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament welcomes the disarmament verification initiative announced earlier today by Defence Secretary Des Browne, whilst also calling for action on a broader front to eradicate global nuclear stockpiles.

Speaking at the Conference on Disarmament, a permanent UN body based in Geneva, Mr Browne offered for the UK to “host a technical conference of P5 [i.e. nuclear weapon states signatory to the NPT] nuclear laboratories on the verification of nuclear disarmament before the next NPT Review Conference in 2010”. He expanded on the major shift in Government policy seen under Gordon Brown, talking of the necessity for a twin-track approach including both counter-proliferation and disarmament. This is different from the policy under Tony Blair, which focused solely on preventing further countries acquiring nuclear weapons. See note 3 for the chronology of this development.

Talking of the UK’s duties under binding international treaty as “commitments not just theoretical obligations” he stated that “the international community needs a transparent, sustainable and credible plan for multilateral nuclear disarmament.” CND endorses this view and welcomes the proposed conference of technical experts who will look into how the complete destruction of an individual nuclear warhead can be verified beyond doubt, without compromising state security or assisting others develop such weapons.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “CND welcomes this development as part of the Brown Government’s markedly better approach to taking multilateral disarmament seriously. But this must be the first step of many. Practical, confidence building actions such as this are indeed required to break the logjam that has prevented significant disarmament moves for years. But we also need a framework for a process that can deliver complete disarmament by all states in parallel. Ensuring the verifiable destruction of warheads, while welcome, will not on its own drive the major change that Gordon Brown wishes to see.”

She continued, “Des Browne correctly identified the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference as a major deadline. CND believes that with the investment of sufficient political capital, that conference could provide a breakthrough in disarmament efforts. A framework for total phased, parallel disarmament already exists in the Nuclear Weapons Convention lodged at the UN. This is already supported by China, India and Pakistan, and the majority of states across the world. The support of the UK could prove decisive in making nuclear disarmament a reality.”

CND will contribute to building an understanding of what steps are required by hosting a Global Summit for a Nuclear Weapon Free World on 16-17 February, at London’s City Hall, Speakers include the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ambassador Sergio Duarte. Contact CND for press credentials.


Notes to Editors:

For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859

Chronology of the change of policy: In her final days as Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett made a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on 26th June in a speech known to have been reflective of Gordon Brown’s thinking. Junior FCO minister Meg Munn repeated these commitments in a Commons debate in Westminster Hall on 24th July. Gordon Brown spoke on the subject last week in India, re-iterating the commitment to Britain being a ‘disarmament laboratory’.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.