TRIDENT DECISION TO BE DELAYED
First it was leaked on Radio 4’s 6am news a week before the LibDem Conference, next there were strong hints from the Conference itself, the Guardian then followed with an article on 25th September and by the time you read this WIRE it is likely that it will be official – that the decision on what kind of submarines should replace the existing 4-boat Trident fleet and how many nuclear missiles they should carry, will be left to 2015 and a new parliament. The delay will help take the heat out of two fundamental disagreements, one within the conservative party itself and the other within the coalition. Liam Fox, the defence secretary, believes that the Treasury should fund the Trident renewal, whereas Chancellor George Osborne is adamant that the bills must be paid by the MoD. Within the coalition itself Liberal ministers and MPs are much more equivocal than the Tories about the need to renew Trident at all and, crucially, the LibDems voted overwhelmingly at their conference that Trident should be included in the current Strategic Defence Review which is preceding the big budget cut announcements due in October. The wholesale review of Britain’s defence needs and defence costs is being carried out without any consideration of the role which Britain’s nuclear weapons should or shouldn’t play. The delay in the Trident decision, therefore, lets the parties in both arguments off the hook. It avoids having to confront the issue of nuclear abolition.
It is easy to feel very disappointed that the issue is being fudged. Before we are too disheartened, however, we have to consider whether, at this stage, anything better could realistically have been hoped for. Certainly a Labour government, as the party’s position is at present, would not cancel Trident and neither would the Tories. A delay to the decision is for the moment, the best we can hope for and it does, at least, give us the time to work upon those dissident and wavering anti-Trident MPs, and there are quite a few of them across the parties, to take a firm joint stand and vote against renewal.
What this means for us in CND, of course, is continued campaigning. For the first time in our
history, the public is behind us. A new poll, commissioned by the Mail on Sunday (no less!)
showed that now 63% want Trident scrapped (BPIX June 2010). At a time when essential services are going to be cut and the poor and vulnerable will be put at risk, it is nonsense to be contemplating spending £76 billion on military hardware which could never be used and in no way addresses our real defence needs. In the following pages of WIRE we shall try to consider some of the arguments regarding Trident renewal so as to keep them at the forefront of our thinking in our discussions with those who are not yet convinced.
Four years ago when we began petitioning in earnest in the Brentwood High Street we came across many who did not even know that the UK still had nuclear weapons. Things have moved on since then and now, one of the most common responses goes along the lines of:
“I agree with you really, but don’t think it (the petition) will do any good.” We are meeting a more sympathetic, if somewhat disillusioned, public now. Stalls are important to try to help shift public opinion.
HIGH STREET STALLS
Come and sign the new petition. We shall be by the side of the Becket Abbey ruins on:
Saturday, 9th October and
Saturday 6th November
from 11am – 12.30pm
On 6th November there will be more white poppies available (please find your complementary one in this WIRE) and also Christmas cards.
TRIDENT AND JOBS
There have been renewed claims from some MPs and others who back the renewal of Trident, that to cancel it would lead to enormous job losses at the shipyard in Barrow and elsewhere. A new report, however, which was launched at the TUC conference this autumn, shows that in fact the opposite is true. The author of the report, Professor John Foster, begins by making a comprehensive analysis of jobs dependent on Trident and those jobs which will be put at risk in order to pay for its £76 billion cost. Using official figures, the report shows that the cancellation of surface ships, aircraft, armoured vehicles and RAF bases which will need to happen if Trident is to go ahead will put at risk far more jobs than those endangered by Trident cancellation. Trident is cash hungry and hundreds of millions are spent with US-based contractors, whilst providing nothing for the UK economy. The report also explains how, with relatively small investment, the key facility dependent on Trident work – BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow – could be realigned towards the rapidly growing needs of a low carbon economy. Precision marine engineering skills are perfect for developing wave and tidal energy systems, where Britain could be a world leader. Diversifying into a market with strong domestic demand as well as huge export potential would provide much greater security for shipyard workers.
The report, including an executive summary, is available at:
As we all know, in spite of the final decision on Trident not yet having been made, the UK is steaming ahead with Trident development plans at Aldermaston. On 3 August this year fire broke out in the explosive area of the Atomic Weapons Establishment which resulted in an unprecedented public evacuation and asbestos contamination. The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the causes.
Attention has been focused on a series of safety incidents over recent years, which include repeated fires, staff exposure to beryllium, the mislaying of radio active material and a nuclear weapons trigger, the collision of a vehicle carrying high explosives, the flooding of warhead assembly buildings and several other incidents. Cost cutting may compromise safety. A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Observer shows that there is increasing concern about the protection of the workforce, the public and the environment if the 10% – 20% cuts go ahead.
SECURITY WITHOUT NUCLEAR DETERRENCE
A longer version of the following article was written by Robert Green, an ex-Royal Navy commander who flew nuclear strike jets and anti submarine helicopters with nuclear depth bombs from 1968-1977. In 1991 he came out against nuclear weapons and has now published a book ‘Security without Nuclear Deterrence’.
At the recent nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference I was much encouraged to hear nuclear deterrence widely condemned. Egypt, on behalf of the 118 member Non-Aligned Movement, called for this doctrine to be rejected as ‘neither bringing about peace not international security’, and preventing progress towards abolition.
Also encouraging is the publication of a surprisingly hard hitting report, Delegitimising Nuclear Weapons, published by the US thinktank, the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and sponsored by the Swiss government, which challenges the validity of the nuclear deterrence doctrine, and calls for a new debate. The nuclear states’ blocking of any serious moves towards honouring their obligation to get rid of their nuclear arsenals is driven by their uncritical acceptance of nuclear deterrence. A nuclear weapon is not a weapon at all – it is the ultimate terror device. Britain’s new coalition government has taken power at a critical moment for the future of British and global nuclear policy. The LibDem manifesto opposed replacing Trident with a similar system and Nick Clegg has courageously chal- lenged the value to Britain of the US-UK special relationship. Because Britain depends on the US for its nuclear arsenal, successive British govern- ments have slavishly followed US foreign policy, blindly following the US into Iraq and Afghanis- tan. This has left a black hole in the defence budget. Britain should turn this crisis into an opportunity, reassert its sovereignty, and exploit the US-UK relationship in a dramatic new way. Making a virtue out of a necessity, the government should announce that it has decided to rescue the Nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty by becoming the first of the five recognised nuclear weapons states to reject the concept of nuclear deterrence.
As with the abolition of slavery, a new world role awaits the British. Such a move would be sensa- tional. in transforming the nuclear disarmament debate overnight. British leadership could create the drive for a non-nuclear strategy and begin to shift the mindset in the US and France, the other two most zealous guardians of non-nuclear deterrence. Abolishing nuclear weapons is physically straightforward. Changing the mindset is the difficult part.
From 27th June to 1st July a peace walk was organised from London to Colchester in support of Joe Glenton, the British soldier serving 9 months in the Colchester “Corrective Training Centre” for going AWOL
Peace walkers at Brentwood Cathedral welcomed by Bishop McMahon
Their overnight stay on June 29th was Brentwood Cathedral where they were warmly welcomed by Bishop MacMahon and members of Brentwood CND. An evening meeting was held in the Friends’ Meeting House in Shenfield on drone warfare and the following day the walkers were accompanied to Brentwood’s War Memorial where the names of dead soldiers in the Afghan conflict were read out.
The next stop was Chelmsford, followed by Maldon then Colchester where the final naming of the dead was conducted outside the gates of the military prison.
A CANDLE FOR HIROSHIMA
On July 16th we were able to hold a small candle ceremony at the Friends’ Meeting House to present, along with members of Christian CND, candles to Beryl and Roger Lankester who were going to Hiroshima for the annual August 6th candle lighting ceremony which takes place there in memory of the suffering of the people of Japan, which still continues. Bishop MacMahon and memers of Brentwood CND were also present and Thomas MacMahon reminded us of the words of the last pope, John Paul ll when he visited Hiroshima in 1981 and appealed for a world without nuclear weapons.
Beryl and RogerLankester receive a candle from Christian CND
See over for an account of Beryl and Roger’s visit.
CANDLES FOR PEACE
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
It was seeing our fellow peace colleagues, some 8000 of them at the conference (in Hiro- shima) that gave added con- fidence to our peace ende- vours. We met Commander Rob Green (see Page 2) who in his presentation argued convin- cingly why Japan should reject nuclear “deterrence” for its security. We also met people from British CND and an American Friend, amongst others. The myriad children and young people from grass roots movements demanding peace together with speeches from Ambassadors to Japan from Egypt, Mexico, Vene- zuela and Norway gave testa- ment to the fact that the UK’s position to retain Trident is contrary to the wishes of many non-nuclear states.
During the evening of Hiros- hima Day we attended the lantern floating ceremony. Each paper lantern has a wish inscribed upon it for peace. Some 200 of the delegates to the conference attended the Ceremony. I gave two of the messages we had received for Hiroshima. The first from Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood. He reiterated the words of Pope John Paul: ‘To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war. To rem- ember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace.’ The second message was from Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion. She said: ‘On behalf of the Green Party of England and Wales, I stand alongside all of those gathered in Hiro- shima in calling for peace and for global nuclear disarma-
ment and I would also like to pay tribute to all those working so hard to secure a future free from conflict for us all.’
Beryl and Roger will be giving a talk and showing a video about their visit to Hiroshima on Saturday, 16th October at 2pm at the Friends’ Meeting House in Shenfield.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TRIDENT
A new website has been set up to help you to track all developments regarding the debate on Trident renewal. It is: http://tridentreplacement.net
Check it out. I t is a unique resource.
NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION REVIEW CONFERENCE
At the end of the NPT review conference in May all 189 signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including the US, called for a conference in 2012 to discuss the banning of weapons of mass destruc- tion in the Middle East. Israel is, of course, not a signatory to the Non-proliferation Treaty and sent the following reply:
“As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this conference, which has no authority over Israel.’ An E-mailed statement from the Israeili government went on:
‘Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.’
Israel is the only Middle East state that has not signed the NPT and, unlike India and Pakistan, also non-signatoiries, did not take part in the review conference.
In spite of the US’s ostensible support for a WMD-free Middle East, it was reported in July that the US has agreed to coninue to support Israel’s nuclear programme. The Israeli paper, Ha’aretz cited a report on 7th July that the US sent Israel a secret document
committing to nuclear cooperation between the two countries, including sharing nuclear technology.
The US, as signatory to the NPT, has undertaken not to supply nuclear technology or mater- rials to non-signatories. Netanyahu has already indicated that Israel will not attend a conference for a Nuclear-Free Middle as ‘Israel was being singled out’. Obama has made it clear that such a conference can only take place if all countries feel confident that they can attend.
Saturday, 9 October 11 – 12.30
Stall Brentwood High Street
9-10 October all day
CND International Public Meeting and National Conference, Mary Ward Centre, Tavistock Place.
16 October 2-4.30 pm
Friends’ Meeting House, Shenfield
Beryl and Roger Lankester will talk about their resent visit to Hiroshima.
25 October From 9am
Brunei Gallery Theatre SOAS. 5th London Conference on a Middle East WMD –free Zone
1 November 6am Devonport
Blockade of Naval Dockyard against its use for Trident maintenance and refitting.
20 November London
Afghanistan: Time to Go Demonstration called by Stop the War and CND and the British Muslim Initiative
24 November St James’s Church, Piccadilly
MANA chamber orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder.
First Tuesday every month
5 – 7pm
Vigil in Parliament Square against Trident Replacement
Every Wednesday 6 – 7pm
Edith Cavell Statue, St Martin’s Place, Women only vigil against militarism.