On the 40th anniversary of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty CND welcomed the article  in Monday’s Times newspaper by Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen and George Robertson and called on the government to embrace new initiatives, including support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, to achieve the goals of the NPT.

The statement by Hurd, Rifkind, Owen and Robertson is a British response to the articles in the past year by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn. Where they originally stated that “We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal,” their British counterparts today said “Substantial progress towards a dramatic reduction in the world’s nuclear weapons is possible. The ultimate aspiration should be to have a world free of nuclear weapons.”

CND welcomes such a positive assertion from former foreign and defence secretaries who defended Britain’s possession of nuclear weapons in the past. It should at least serve to re-open the public debate about nuclear weapons and the replacement of Trident.

CND regrets that on the 40th anniversary of the NPT, the five nuclear weapon state signatories have yet to carry out their disarmament commitments and reasserts its belief that this undermines the non-proliferation pillar of the Treaty. CND calls on the government to consider new initiatives, including giving its support to a Nuclear Weapons Convention, to achieve global, verifiable disarmament. In a 2007 YouGov poll 64% of the UK population said the government should support a Nuclear Weapons Convention. In 2006, 125 out of 181 governments voted in the UN General Assembly for negotiations to commence immediately, including nuclear armed China, India and Pakistan.

CND Chair Kate Hudson said, “This new article by Britain’s former Cold Warriors shows the ongoing change in public opinion towards nuclear weapons and underlines the growing understanding that national security, not just for Britain but for all states, necessitates the disarmament of all nuclear weapons.”

“Coming on the 40th anniversary of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty this statement exposes the failures of the nuclear weapon states and reaches CND’s long held view that failure to disarm is a green light to proliferation. We hope that this bold statement, and the NPT’s 40th anniversary, can re-open the public debate on Trident replacement so that before the 2010 Review Conference the government will reverse its priorities and get to work leading a real multilateral initiative in winning support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, rather than committing to many further decades of British nuclear weapons.”