The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today agreed with the findings of the world’s top thinktank. SIPRI, which monitors global peace, has claimed there is an increased risk that nuclear weapons will be used in the future.


The annual report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on armaments, disarmament and international security noted that the five states with the biggest nuclear arsenals (USA, Russia, Britain, France and China) are all updating or plan to update their nuclear weapons systems, despite a gradual decline in overall warhead numbers.


Commenting on the trend towards lower yield weapons, Ian Anthony, a nuclear expert at the Institute said “The concern is that countries are starting to see these weapons as useable, whereas during the Cold War they were seen as a deterrent.”


Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “Many people wrongly thought that the conclusion of the Cold War signalled the end of the nuclear threat, but with states such as Britain modernising their weapons systems and others making more ‘usable’ lower-yield weapons, the risk is large and growing. Now more than ever we need a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a draft of which is already lodged at the UN, so that nuclear weapons join biological and chemical weapons as part of history, rather than something that can make civilisation history.”


The report also analyses world military expenditure for 2006, which is estimated to have reached $1204 billion – a 3.5% increase in real terms since 2005 and a 37% rise since 1997. SIPRI also predicts that the current and long-term commitments for the US alone in relation to the war in Iraq will take the bill to $2267 billion by 2016.


Kate Hudson further commented, “The UK has the second highest military expenditure in the world, yet only the fifth biggest economy. The UK spent $59bn on defence last year – almost as much as China and Israel combined. We need a debate about what can provide real security for this country, which spends much more per person on defence than the average European state, and whether up to £76bn on Trident would be better spent elsewhere.”


On a similar theme Elisabeth Sköns, SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme Leader said “It is worth asking how cost-effective military expenditure is as a way of increasing the security of human lives, if we talk about avoiding premature deaths and disability due to current dangers. For example, we know that millions of lives could be saved through basic health interventions that would cost a fraction of what the world spends on military forces every year”.