22 January 2008: for immediate release

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today reacted with alarm to a ‘manifesto for a new NATO’ by five senior military strategists which explicitly calls for the alliance to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a situation of severe international tension. The ‘first strike’ policy, along with other suggestions including deploying military force without UN security council authorisation are expected to be discussed at a NATO summit in April. The suggested policies all run counter to renewed efforts at reducing nuclear tensions and strengthening the UN as spelt out by Gordon Brown in a major speech in India yesterday.

The report, whose authors include Lord Inge, former chief of the defence staff concludes that “The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.” The warped thinking, of bombing to pre-empt bombing would in many situations incalculably escalate a conflict, with the miscalculations apparent over both Iraqi and Iranian nuclear capabilities potentially being repeated with millions of deaths resulting.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “Following this insane and illegal prescription would ultimately lead to nuclear disaster. A nuclear strike to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear weapons would be the worst of all possible outcomes – changing a potentially dangerous situation into one where a huge death-toll is a certainty. All recent nuclear threats have been resolved diplomatically – Libya abandoned its programme, North Korea is co-operating with the IAEA and the Iranian programme has now been confirmed as non-military. The aggressive and provocative approach of these military strategists will only encourage countries such as these to pursue a nuclear-armed route instead of engaging with the international community in a constructive fashion.”

She continued, “This report runs counter to a major trend in world thinking. Only yesterday Gordon Brown pledged to be ‘at the forefront of the international campaign to accelerate disarmament amongst [nuclear] possessor states’ and to combat nuclear threats by a concerted diplomatic effort in the run-up to the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty summit. Henry Kissinger last week reiterated his proposals for multilateral negotiations towards a nuclear-free world. This is not a pipe-dream but a project that requires intense and ongoing effort by major world leaders. For these military leaders to suggest taking the opposite path, towards greater nuclear threat is nothing short of a disaster.”


Notes to Editors:

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

2. Gordon Brown spoke on nuclear issues at the Chamber of Commence in Delhi, Monday 21st January.

3. 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.