Spring 2010

The Peace Vote and the General Election

By the time you receive this WIRE it is possible that the long awaited announcement of a General Election will have been made and the date become public.  Many CND members have a loyalty to a particular political party, hoping, perhaps, that even if the party at this moment does not support Britain’s nuclear disarmament, there will eventually be enough pressure from rank and file membership and voters at large, to bring about a change of policy.   Individual candidates may, of course, themselves support nuclear disarmament, contrary to party policy, and we might decide to support them with our vote.   There is, of course, a very small group of political parties, many of which we shall have no chance to vote for, whose party policy is the non-renewal of Trident and the gradual removal of Britain’s nuclear arsenal.   These include the Green Party (no MPs in Parliament at the moment) Respect Party (1 MP), Plaid Cymru (3 MPs) and the Scottish National Party (7 MPs). ( I do not have the official policy of the BNP and UKIP at the time of writing.)   The Conservative and Labour Parties and the Liberal Democrats all support a ‘minimum nuclear deterrent’.   However, the monolithic stance of these major parties breaks down a little when it comes to the issue of Trident replacement.   95 Labour MPs (out of 350) either opposed the replacement or voted to delay the decision, 3 conservative MPs (out of 193) did the same and all 63 Lib Dems opposed Trident renewal. This is therefore still clearly the issue on which we need to campaign as it would be an important step in nuclear disarmament.

Brentwood CND will be writing to all Brentwood candidates (including UKIP and the BNP) to ask them their personal views on renewal and we shall publicise their replies.  We are holding two Saturday stalls in March, on 13th and 20th, to gather more signatures on the non-renewal of Trident and raise awareness of the issue.   Individuals can raise awareness within their own political parties, write to the local press and lobby candidates.   We must remember that, for once, the public is on our side and we have the backing of a number of recent opinion polls which show a majority in favour of scrapping Trident.

PRE-ELECTION AD IN LOCAL NEWSPAPER

One of the actions we could take as a local CND group is to take out an ad on the issue of Trident in a local paper – presumably the Brentwood Gazette.   As we know from being on the High Street stall, many people are genuinely surprised when we explain that Britain still has nuclear weapons, thinking that we got rid of them at the end of the Cold War and an advertisement could highlight this issue.   Included in your WIRE this month is a suggested format and wording for such an ad.   It would cost between £250 and £450 depending upon the size, and our funds could not cover the whole cost.  We are then asking you whether you feel that this would be a good way of getting our message across and, if so, whether you could make a contribution to the cost.   Names of donors could be included in the ad. or not, depending upon what you request.   Seeing names of local people on such an advertisement can be quite persuasive but we would naturally respect anonymity if requested.

We shall not cash any cheques until we can see whether we have enough money to fund the ad.   If we do not then all cheques will be returned.

I t really is crucial to raise awareness of this issue.   The Government does not want it talked about.   In the recent Green Paper which reviews our defence priorities Trident has not even been mentioned.   Its exclusion makes the review a nonsense.   Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has spoken of the real financial pressures facing future plans but clearly feels that spending £76 billion on Trident renewal is acceptable.   At a time when the USA and Russia are reducing their nuclear arsenals and Britain is facing its worst ever financial crisis Trident must go.

ALDERMASTON BLOCKADED AGAIN

Aldermaston, Britain’s nuclear bomb factory was successfully blockaded again on February 15th this year.    By 7am all gates were effectively blocked, preventing traffic and workers from entering.

More than 500 activists took part and the protest was entirely peaceful.   I found myself at International Gate (aka Tadley Gate?  aka Construction Gate? – I get confused) as it was near there that I could most easily park my car.   International Gate appeared to be mainly made up of Welsh and Spanish blockaders. and, perhaps because the police, having cunningly checked the Aldermaston web site, knew that ‘foreign nationals’ were involved, there was, for several hours, no real attempt to break the blockade, in spite of the traffic queues building up.

(Police tend often not to want to arrest ‘foreign nationals’ at such events as there are often bail and language problems).  When it appeared that the police were happy to leave that particular blockade in place, I moved on, but not before the arrival of some spiritual and bodily support in the form of a couple of Buddhist monks swiftly followed by a mobile soup kitchen.

I moved on to the Women’s Gate where there had been a concerted effort by the police to clear the blockade.   Cutters had been brought in to separate a group of Spanish women who had locked on to one another and these were proceeding very slowly, anxious not to cause injury to them.

The whole process was taking a very long time as the women had claimed  not to be able to speak English so all interaction had to be carried out through an interpreter.   One such conversation which I overheard went like this:

Officer: Could you explain to your friend that she needs to turn her head a little as I am now going to cause a few sparks when I cut through the metal.

(Interpreter speaks quietly and at great length to blockader who then replies, also at great length.)

Interpreter: She is saying she is not caring about your sparks.  She is more worried about what is going on in there (with a finger pointed at the base)

Next phase of the cutting free continues.

26 people were arrested in all by the end of the morning and the work of Aldermaston was once more disrupted.  Such blockades are an essential, even enjoyable, part of the campaign against Trident renewal.
Jill

NUCLEAR POWER CANCERS AGAIN

While the government is pushing ahead with the ‘consultation’ and planning processes for Britain’s new generation of nuclear plants (including one at Bradwell in Essex) a recent powerful study has indicated potential serious health problems which should cause even the most ardent supporters of nuclear power to stop and think again.

In 2008, a major 4-year health study found large increases in infant cancers near all German nuclear power stations.   The study had been confidently commissioned by the German Government to show that there were no such problems. The study (called KiKK – Kinderkrebs in der Umgebung von KernKraftwerken) reported a 2.2 fold increase in leukaemia risks among children under five living within 5km of all German nuclear power stations.   KiKK found the cancer risks were firmly linked to proximity to nuclear power plants.   Its report sparked off a major furore in Germany, but the study has been little reported on here.   KiKK is significant  because the radionuclide emissions from UK reactors (both existing and proposed)

are practically the same as those from German reactors.

Scientifically speaking, the KiKK study commands attention for a number of reasons.   First is its large size and case control format: it examined all cancers at all 16 nuclear reactor locations in Germany between 1980 and 2003, including 1,592 under fives with cancer and 4,735 controls, with 593 under –fives with cancer and 4,735 controls.   This means the study is very strong and its findings statistically significant.

Second is its authority: it was commissioned in 2003 by the German Government’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection after requests from German citizen groups.   The study was carried out by epidemiology teams from the University of Mainz who, ironically, were in favour of nuclear power.

The findings were a shock for the German nuclear industry.   KiKK’s findings are partly the reason why Germany is not building new reactors, with the result that German nuclear operators (EON and RWF) are now proposing them in the UK instead!

British  Reaction

In the UK, the Chair of the government’s Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) initially denied the KiKK findings, stating in a letter to nuclear site stakeholder groups that recent French and UK studies did not support the KiKK results.   However, this letter had to be officially withdrawn following criticisms and in October 2009 the Department of Health instructed COMARE to look

into the KiKK study in detail.   This report is expected in April.

Other Evidence

In 2008 French scientists carried out a literature review of 26 multi-site studies of childhood cancer near nuclear facilities throughout the world.   This followed a 1999 listing of 50 similar studies.   In 2007  researchers in South Carolina carried out a large analysis of 136 sites in the UK, Canada, France, US, Germany, Japan and Spain.   All of these have supported the KiKK results, finding increased incidences of child leukaemia and child cancer death rates close to nuclear facilities.

Our government is in denial over these results so we must await the outcome of the COMARE report with a certain amount of scepticism.

Dr Ian Fairlie

________________________________________

THE FUTURE OF ENERGY

Professor Andy Blowers OBE will be discussing what Britain’s energy options are if our supply is to be truly sustainable.

Mayoral Suite, Town Hall, High Street, Colchester 25th March 7.30 Tickets £5

Ring 01206 282206

______________________________________

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE NPT REVIEW CONFERENCE?

The next Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference is scheduled to take place from 3 – 28 May, just when the UK is going to be embroiled in the fall-out from a General Election.  It is therefore unlikely that the New York conference will be at the top of any politician’s agenda.

This is regrettable but nonetheless we, the general public, must keep our eye on the ball to see what can be achieved in terms of nuclear disarmament.   Unfortunately, even when important commitments are adopted at NPT conferences, as with the “13 Practical Steps on Disarmament” agreed in 2000, the treaty lacks the powers and the tools to ensure their implementation.

Stuck, as it is, in a Cold War mentality, the conference may, if it is successful, achieve some

incremental steps in reduction of arsenals but new thinking is required if we are going to turn non-proliferation into abolition .and this has to be driven by civil society.   The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and key NGOs are working on a two-phase strategy that engages with the NPT, and is trying to persuade as many governments as possible to incorporate the call for  negotiations on a

nuclear weapons convention to be included in their position papers at the start of the conference.

If over 100 governments incorporated the call for negotiations on such a treaty into their statements, and if possible to make 2020 the target date for the conclusion of this treaty, it would be much harder to leave it out of the NPT documents.   CND along with ICAN members and many other groups will be working alongside government delegations to try to achieve this goal.   If the concept of a nuclear weapons convention were to be endorsed at the Conference that would be an important step, but there would still be much work to be done to get negotiations underway and this is where local activism will come in.

On 5th June, just after the Conference closes, there will be a worldwide day of action to get the message across that world nuclear disarmament is crucial to our survival.  We shall publicise these in Brentwood CND.

Dr Rebecca Johnson,

ESSEX CHRISTIAN CND AGM

The AGM of Essex Christian CND will take place on Saturday, 17 April at the Quaker Meeting House, 49 Hutton Road, Shenfield 10 – 2pm.   Bob Russell has offered to speak on ‘The Just War Tradition’, an often misunder- stood Church doctrine.  Anyone who would just like to hear the talk and take part in the discussion is welcome to do so from 11am.   There will follow a ‘ bring and share’ lunch.  Contact Beryl – 01277 353450.

THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK

CND welcomed the decision, taken on 14th January, to move the nuclear ‘doomsday clock’ back from five to six minutes to midnight.   The symbolic clock, charting the relative dangers of nuclear annihilation is controlled by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and has only been re-set 19 times since its inception in 1947.

The shift recognises the significant improvement, since the end of the Bush era, with both Presidents Obama and Medvedev committed to nuclear abolition.

As the third oldest nuclear state, if Britain were to cancel Trident replacement, the hands of the clock would doubtless move back further.

HOUSMANS BOOKSHOP

London’s famous bookshop, committed to peace and social justice has now gone on-line.   With over 500,000 titles avai-  lable, it is an ethical alternative to Amazon.

www.housmans.com

‘Support the shop that supports your campaigns’

MICHAEL FOOT

All in CND mourn the loss of Michael Foot who died on Wednesday, 3rd March.   Michael helped launch CND at its founding meeting on 17th February 1958and was always to be seen leading the Aldermaston marches and the rallies in Trafalgar Square.   As leader of the Labour Party he continued to back nuclear disarmament in the 1980s, but the Social Democratic Party split from Labour and massively cut the Labour vote, leading to Labour’s defeat in 1983.   He was a principled and passionate politician who believed fervently in social justice and the political life of our nation is the poorer with his passing.

STALLS

We shall be holding 2 anti-Trident renewal stalls at the Becket Chapel ruins this month: 13th and 20th March 11-12.30.   Why not pay us a visit – or even join us there.  We would love to see – and you could pay your 2010 subs!

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Subscriptions are now due for 2010, unless you are among the few who have paid already.

They are £6 (£3) for families and £3 (£1.50) for individuals.  If you previously paid for 3 years your sub is also due:  £15 (£7.50) for families or £7.50 (£3.75) for individuals.  Send to Penny Wright, 9 Harold Gdns, Wickford. SS11 7EN

VISIT TO HIROSHIMA

CND members Beryl Lankester and her husband Roger will be attending the Hiroshima Day ceremony this year – in Hiroshima.   Beryl is one of the main organisers of this annual Christian CND event in Essex and will be taking a candle on behalf of Brentwood CND to Hiroshima with her.

DIARY

Saturday, March 13  11-12.30

Stall, Brentwood High Street

March 13. Edinburgh

March and rally against plans to spend billions on nuclear weapons.  Speakers Alex Salmond, Kate Hudson

Saturday March 20  11-12.30

Stall Brentwood High Street

April 2-7  Dover-Southampton

Relay along the South Coast to carry a flame of hope for the abolition of nuclear weapons.   This flame will join a flame from Hiroshima to go to New York for the NPT review conference in May.

16 – 17 April

Imperial War Museum

‘Peace history – visions and experiments.’   Organised by the Movement for the Abolition of War.   Speakers include Christine Blowers (NUT) and Victoria Brittain

May 3-28   New York

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.

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Autumn 2010

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:

www.cnduk.org/tridentjobs

ALDERMASTON DANGER

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.

PEACE WALK

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 Lankester

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.

DIARY DATES

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.

 

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.

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Summer 2010

BRENTWOOD TO HOST TWO CND EVENTS THIS SUMMER

PEACE WALK
END THE AFGHAN WAR
SUPPORT WAR RESISTERS

Monday 28th June /Tuesday 29th June

In a few days time Brentwood CND and Brent- wood Cathedral will be offering hospitality to the Peace Walk from London to Colchester in support of Joe Glenton, the soldier who has been sentenced to 9 months in Colchester military prison for refusing to fight in Afghanistan.

The walk is planned to start with a rally outside the main entrance of the Ministry of Defence on June 26, which the government has identified as Armed Forces Day.  The day has been renamed by peace campaigners as Unarmed Forces Day. The walk itself will start on Sunday 27th and will go to Ilford for the first night.   On Monday 28th, they will be in Brentwood, staying overnight in the Cathedral Hall, Tuesday 29th they will be in Chelmsford, Wednesday 30th , Maldon and will arrive in Colchester on July 1st.

Joe enlisted, aged 21, in 2004.   After doing a seven month tour of duty in Afghanistan he ab- sconded from Abingdon barracks after expressing reluctance at being sent back to Afghanistan.   He went on the run for two years before handing him- self in.   He is the first British soldier to take this stand and was charged with desertion.  He was also charged with “disobeying a lawful order” when he addressed a peace rally in Trafalgar Square last October.

Brentwood CND members are invited to attend the public meeting being held with the peace walkers at 7.30 at the Friends’ Meeting House, Shenfield on Monday June 28th and/or to accompany the walkers on (part of) their way to Chelmsford on Tuesday, June 29th. They will be setting off from Brentwood Cathedral at 9am.

If you would like to support Joe then write to him at:   Military Corrective Training Centre, Berechurch Hall Camp, Colchester CO 2 9NU

A CANDLE FOR HIROSHIMA

Friday, 16th July     5pm – 6pm

Friends Meeting House, Shenfield

At the end of July, two of our members, Beryl and Roger Lankester are going to Japan for the 2010 commemoration in Hiroshima.   They will be attending a conference there as well as attending the traditional ceremony on August 6th.   They are being hosted by Quakers.   Beryl has kindly offered to take a candle on our behalf to the people of Hiroshima and place it alongside the thousands of others which are sent and brought to Japan from countries all over the world.

On Friday, 16th July 5pm and 6pm we shall formally hand over the Brentwood CND candle to them at the Friends’ Meeting House in Shenfield.   The presentation will mark our resistance to the continued threat from nuclear weapons.  The Bishop of Brentwood, Rev Thomas McMahon a well known opponent of nuclear weapons, will be present as will various representatives of Christian CND.   Clergy against Nuclear Arms (CANA) will also present a candle.

Some light refreshments will be provided and members of Brentwood CND will be particularly welcome.   There will also be the usual candle lighting ceremony on August 6th (see diary for further details).

THE NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY REVIEW CONFERENCE

The British general election and the ensuing coalition negotiations, coming as they did, right at the start of the Non-proliferation Review Conference at the UN in New York, distracted the media from reporting this conference and, doubtless, also distracted our politicians. Now that the dust has settled, however, we can start to study the wording of the final agreement (bearing in mind that not all such conferences in the past have even been able to reach a final agreement) to see if it is more than just smoke and mirrors.   We in CND have worked hard over the past 18 months, collecting petition signatures, and it is important to see whether the conference made any substantive progress.   The nub of the agreement which all states signed up to commits the nuclear weapons states to:

accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament and to rapidly move towards an overall reduction in the global stockpile of nuclear weapons and further diminish to role of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies.

In another development, it was agreed that the UN General Secretary would convene a conference in 2012, to be attended by all countries of the Middle East, to discuss a WMD-free Middle East.

This second part has been included to deal separately with the issues which specifically refer to Israel and Iran.   Egypt, as the president this year of the Non-Alignment movement, had previously and understandably insisted on progress in this area before becoming a signatory to any other deal.   Egypt accepted this compromise of a separate conference.   Iran’s initial aggressive stance was mollified by this too, and they signed up to the final declaration.   The credit for negotiating this must go to Susan Burk, President Obama’s special disarmament negotiator who has been working hard at the UN behind the scenes to broker a deal.

The presence of Susan Burk is a sign in itself that the Obama administration is taking nuclear disarmament seriously.

Susan Burk – Obama’s special representative on nuclear  proliferation

There is no doubt about  the US commitment to re-vitalizing the Non-proliferation Treaty.   The nightmare scenario post-Cold War is not World War III but a nuclear strike by a rogue state or terrorist group and the US cannot counter this threat without the active cooperation of many other states.   The original treaty, whereby the non-nuclear states agreed not to develop nuclear weapons in return for the nuclear ones disarming is often described as frayed.   India, Israel and Pakistan never signed the treaty and have become nuclear states.   Yet a dozen or more states which could have developed a nuclear weapons capacity have chosen not to do so.   Obama’s belief is that if the nuclear weapons states take disarmament seriously then the other states would begin to make good on their non-proliferation commitments.

What is new, therefore, is not that multinational disarmament was achieved at this conference, but that a political process has been set in motion which is initiating much ‘behind the scenes’ bargaining before the next small step is taken.   This is the reality of multi-lateral agreements.   The mere fact that Obama put people like Susan Burk in place a full year before this conference signals his seriousness and is, of course, a million miles away from the Bush administration approach.

In the UK we have a duty to hold the government to account on how it intends to carry out the new commitments it has signed up to.   A conference has been organised in London Conway Hall, Red Lion Square

Wednesday, 7th July  8pm .

Obama, the NPT and Nuclear Weapons – grounds for hope

NUCLEAR WASTE TRAINS

AND THE OLYMPICS

Although, since the closure of Bradwell, nuclear waste trains have temporarily stopped coming through Brentwood, they are, of course, still carrying their highly toxic and radioactive waste through Stratford.   In fact their route takes them alongside the Olympic sites in Stratford and Hackney.

In 2006 Daily Mirror undercover journalists planted a fake bomb on a nuclear waste train in Northwest London to demonstrate how vulnerable the trains are to attack and yet, in spite of it being acknowledged by the police that the greatest threat to Olympic security is terrorism, nothing has been done to stop the trains passing the Olympic site.

The Nuclear Trains Action Group is calling a demonstration to take place on 10th July 2010 to highlight the dangers.   It will hold a rally at the Cadogan Gate of Victoria Park and set off at 2.45 pm to arrive in Stratford at 4pm for a die-in.

LIB DEM NUCLEAR POWER FUDGE

The major issue, however, is not the nuclear waste trains per se but the use of nuclear power which creates the waste.  Britain is on the verge of planning for a whole new generation of nuclear power stations.  In opposition Chris Huhne, the new energy secretary, was strongly anti-nuclear “Our message is clear: no to nuclear, as it is not a short cut but a dead end.”

Courtesy of Greenpeace

In Government, however, this unequivocal stance has changed.   As part of the coalition deal he has agreed not to oppose new nuclear power stations, whilst at the same time promising not to commit any Government money to subsidise the construc- tion of such stations.   Coalitions are not easy and require compromise, but is this a tenable position?   Apart from anything else, can we believe that there will be no Government subsidy.   Two of the major costs of nuclear power are the decommissioning of the plants and the storage of nuclear waste.   Do we seriously believe that these costs will be borne by the industry?   And of course, who will bear the costs of leaks and accidents?    It was doubtless a happy coincidence that one of the last minute promises made by the outgoing Labour Govern- ment was an £80m loan to Forgemasters of Sheffield so that it could build parts for nuclear power stations.   Since the Conservatives are more than happy to make quick savings by cutting such Labour plans there was coalition agreement on this particular issue.   Things will be more interesting, however, when real issues of conscience are tested and nuclear power is an issue of conscience.   The recent German research reported in the last WIRE regarding child leukaemias and atomic power stations provides clear evidence of the connection.

PROTESTS IN GERMANY

On April 24th around 120,000 demonstrators formed a 74 mile human chain that stretched from  nuclear plant in Brunsbüttel, through Hamburg along the Elbe River to another plant in Krümmel.   This was in protest against statements by Chancellor Angel Merkel’s government coalition that it wants to revoke the law passed under Chancellor Schroeder’s coalition that ordered the shutting down of all nuclear power plants in Germany by 2020.

REFUSAL TO INCLUDE TRIDENT IN STRATEGIC DEFENCE REVIEW

CND is dismayed that, despite the Lib Dem’s public opposition to Trident’s replacement, Trident itself will not be reviewed in the forthcoming Strategic Security and Defence Review.   With the majority of the population opposing Trident replacement and with Britain facing its worst financial crisis since the Second World War, scrapping Trident would enable billions to be used to re-build the economy and save hospitals and schools from closure.   CND is urging MPs to sign the Early Day Motion 110, which has cross party support and urges Liam Fox, the Defence Minister to re-think this.

CND does welcome, however, the recent announcement by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, to review the circumstances under which the UK might launch a nuclear attack.   Currently these include ‘first use’.   CND believes that, at the very minimum, Britain must be cate- gorical that it will never threaten a nuclear attack on a state that doesn’t possess nuclear weapons.

HIROSHIMA EXHIBITION – CAN YOU HELP?

A powerful Hiroshima exhibition is being dis- played at Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London from 2nd August for two weeks.   Volunteers are needed to supervise the exhibition  sessions are morning, lunchtime or afternoon) and answer questions if necessary.   Ring Chris on 020 7700 2393 if you can help.

FILM REVIEW MICMACS

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet this is the story of Bazil, a man set on seeking just retribution from the arms companies whose evil products have killed his father and left him with a bullet precariously lodged in his head.   He soon sees that he won’t defeat the arms dealers on his own and befriend a fellow busker who takes him to a wonderful underground world made of salvaged junk, where circus acrobats live alongside kooky inventors.

Bazil and his friends manage successfully to pit two dir- rectors of rival arms com- panies against one another.   The portrayal of these two characters is cleverly built up to show that behind the sani- tised façade and public relat- ions gleam of their corporate worlds lie two men driven by greed and a quest for personal supremacy.   The film manages to convey important messages about the corruption and con- sequences of the arms trade, while never losing its hum- orous and imaginative edge.

Don’t miss it.

SUBSCRIPTIONS

The two local events described on Page 1 will cost Brentwood CND money.   We would, therefore, be grateful for members to pay their 2010 subs as soon as they can.

£6 (£3) for families

£3 (£1.50) for individuals

If you previously paid for 3 years your sub is also due:

£15 (7.50) families

£7.50 (£3.75) individuals

If you receive an envelope in this edition of WIRE addressed to our treasurer, Penny Wright, this means that we think you owe us your subscription (please tell us if we are wrong!).   If there is no envelope then you are in the clear!

MISSILE DEFENCE

When President Obama first came to office and announced the scrapping of plans to site US radar stations in the Czech Republic and to locate interceptor missiles in Poland there was rejoicing all round.   This now appears to have been premature and there seems to be simply a re-configuration of the US Missile Defence plans, under the cover of NATO, rather than an abandonment of them.   Romania and Bulgaria are now coming into the equation and it is suspected that secret talks have already begun.   Russia is quite rightly concerned.   The US cannot talk peace through disarmament. whilst at the same time trying to secure global military dominance.

PEACE NEWS

Have you ever thought of taking out a subscription to Peace News?  This is the monthly newspaper produced by a collective of people (including some CND members) which supports peace activism across a broad spectrum.  At the moment there is a special offer for CND members of £9 (instead of £13) for CND members.   If you want to give it a try just send your cheque (writing CND offer across the back) to Peace News,  5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DY.

PEACE NEWS SUMMER CAMP

From July 23 – 27 Peace news is organising a Summer Camp in Oxfordshire at Westmill Farm.   (This is situated along the B4508 about 5 miles from Farringdon).   The idea is that you pay what you can afford (between £15 and £60) and take part in discussions, skill sharing and celebrating.   The themes to be covered this year are feminism and peace,

challenging the military, non-violent activism and radicalising our lives.   For further information go on to the Peace News website: www.peacenewscamp.info

or phone 020 7278 3344

DIARY DATES

Monday, 28th June 7.30

Friends’ Meeting House, Shenfield

Meeting organised by the Peace Walkers

Tuesday, 29th June 9am

Cathedral Hall, Brentwood

Join the Peace Walkers on all or part of their walk to Chelmsford.

Wednesday, 7th July 8pm

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square

Kate Hudson will talk about the next steps, after the NPT review.

Saturday 10th July 2pm

Demonstration ‘Stop nuclear trains through London’ to alert to the dangers of Olympics.

Friday 16th July 5pm – 6pm

Friends’ Meeting House Shenfield.

‘A Candle for Hiroshima’  Brentwood CND will present a candle to be taken to Hiroshima for 6th August.

July 23 – 27  Oxfordshire

Peace News Summer Camp

Child friendly, renewably powered.

Saturday 4th July

Menwith Hill – Annual ‘Freedom from America Day’ – Mark Thomas, Peter Tatchell

Friday 6 August noon-1pm

Tavistock Square, London

London CND Hiroshima Day Ceremony – Kate Hudson, Ken Livingstone, Shoso Kawamote.

Friday 6th August 8pm

Nelmes URC Church near Emerson Park, Hornchurch

Hiroshima Ceremony organised by Essex Christian CND

9th – 10th October

CND National Conference

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January 2010

2010 DECISIVE YEAR FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Welcome to the New Year and a year which is going to bring us the best chance yet for meaningful negotiations towards reducing and ultimately abolishing nuclear weapons.   In May this year the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York will provide a crucial opportunity for CND to push open the door which Obama, the first American president ever to do so, has just unlocked.   Nothing, however, will happen if things are left solely to politicians. There needs to be a strong push from below and support for disarmament from people themselves. In Britain we look to CND to represent us at that Review Conference, fortified by the knowledge that they have the support of the majority of people in Britain.

President Obama accepts the Nobel Prize for Peace

Britain’s role is crucial, both because it is one of the few states to have nuclear weapons and because it has an active anti-nuclear movement.

John Loretz who chairs the US based International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War takes the view that Britain with its strong disarmament movement could be the champion among the nuclear weapons’ states to achieve a real breakthrough.   There are small signs that the Government is wavering over the issue of Trident replacement.   If the renewal of Trident were cancelled, not only would billions of pounds be released back into the economy but we would be delivering a strong message to the Conference that we were backing the US in its pursuit of nuclear weapons reductions.

CND’s campaigning is therefore crucial.   It is engaging in the most intensive lobbying it has been involved in for years – on many fronts.   Not just in preparation for the New York meeting but also for the coming general election campaign – and it needs money.   Kate Hudson, our chair, is taking a year’s unpaid sabbatical from her university post, to devote her time to this work.  Money is needed to produce many thousand of leaflets and postcards, information packs, lobbying material, web banners and newspaper adverts.   Please consider, therefore, making a donation, large or small, to support this important campaigning.

_________________________________________

SEND DONATIONS TO

NATIONAL CND, 162 HOLLOWAY ROAD, LONDON N7 8DQ

You can also donate online.

ALDERMASTON BLOCKADE

On 15th February, starting at 7am there will be an all-day blockade of Aldermaston AWE.   It is organised by Trident Ploughshares with other groups, including CND.   The aim is to stop workers entering to research, develop and manufacture nuclear weapons.   Different groups will be blockading each of the seven gates of the factory and the overall aim is to highlight and oppose the production of nuclear weapons in Britain.

The central focus will be the blockade and this will involve risking arrest.   However there are plenty of roles for people who do not wish to get arrest-  ed.   To make the action succe- ssful there is also a need to be a simple presence at the gates, holding banners, placards or flags, and engaging in a dialogue with the workers who might be held up.  Legal obser- vers and gate support are also needed.  Jill is going by car  to the blockade on 14th February and staying overnight so as to be at the gates by 7am.   Please contact her (01277 216712) if you are interested in coming.

MAYORS FOR PEACE

The Mayor of Lewisham is the second London Mayor recently to become a “Mayor for Peace”.   Lewisham Council passed this resolution:

‘This Council acknowledges the current danger of nuclear weapons proliferation and recognises the achievement of Mayors for Peace in coordin- anating more than 3,000 towns and cities in 134 countries to promote the total abolition of nuclear weapons and pursue lasting peace in the world.

This Council pledges its sup- port for, and undertakes to join, the other local authorities in the UK and globally who are mem- bers of the international Mayors for Peace movement, and pledges to give an annual donation to support the work.”

What are the chances of getting the Mayor of Brentwood to sign the pledge?   Anyone willing to give this a try??

GENERAL ELECTION NEWSPAPER AD

One of the main events of the Spring is going to be the General Election.   CND is preparing campaigning mat- erials and we in Brentwood will hopefully be a presence on the High Street and will also be questioning the candidates’ views on Trident renewal.   One other thing we can do is to run a half page or full page ad in a local newspaper.   For this we shall need money so, if when you are paying your sub you would like to send a little extra, please do!   We shall be in touch with you again once we know the date.

NUCLEAR POWER – AND NUCLEAR WASTE

By the year 2000 it was estimated that the nuclear industry had created 201,000 tons of highly radioactive fuel rods.   Britain alone has the equivalent of three Albert Halls full.  The plutonium in them will remain dangerous for up to 240,000 or 12,000 generations and require it to be isolated from every living thing and the water land and air in which they live.   Here is what Ed Miliband said on revealing the sites of the ten new nuclear power stations (including Bradwell). On waste management, the government is satisfied that on the basis of scientific and international experience, effective arrangements to manage and dispose of the waste…can be put in place. What experience?   That of the last 50 years in which no safe place has beenbuilt?   And dispose of it?  It cannot realistically be done.  Either someone is lying to him or he is lying to us.  If a secure place is to be built, it will take decades to build and in the meantime it will have to be kept on site at the power stations, subject to leaks and the possibility of terrorist attack.

Thanks to Southend CND for this information.

JUST IMAGINE

Just imagine (thanks to Private Eye) how nuclear events in Britain might be reported in Tehran:

The British leader, Ayatollah Gordoni, yesterday stepped up his plans for his country to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent capability, despite strong pressure from Iran and the increasing doubts of his own people at home.

Gordoni, however, is adamant that Britain’s nuclear missiles are there for peaceful purposes, and that Britain has no desire to threaten its neighbours. The hugely expensive nuclear programme is fast bankrupting the country.

DIARY DATES

Sunday, 17 January 10 – 5pm.

Conway Hall London CND conference – speakers Ken Livingstone and Bruce Kent.

15 – 17 January  Nottingham

Peace News winter gathering

Tel  020 7278 3344 for info.

23 January  10.30 – 3.30

Conway Hall Labour CND conference – open to all

28 January Protest at the international conference on Afghanistan organised by Gordon Brown.   Tel 020-7278 6694 for info.

15 February

Aldermaston Blockade

16 February 7.30 Hinde St Methodist Church nr Bond St MANA concert for peace.

Tel: 020 8455 1030

 

built?   And dispose of it?  It cannot realistically be done.  Either someone is lying to him or he is lying to us.  If a secure place is to be built, it will take decades to build and in the meantime it will have to be kept on site at the power stations, subject to leaks and the possibility of terrorist attack.

Thanks to Southend CND for this information.

JUST IMAGINE

Just imagine (thanks to Private Eye) how nuclear events in Britain might be reported in Tehran:

The British leader, Ayatollah Gordoni, yesterday stepped up his plans for his country to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent capability, despite strong pressure from Iran and the increasing doubts of his own people at home.

Gordoni, however, is adamant that Britain’s nuclear missiles are there for peaceful purposes, and that Britain has no desire to threaten its neighbours. The hugely expensive nuclear programme is fast bankrupting the country.

DIARY DATES

Sunday, 17 January 10 – 5pm.

Conway Hall London CND conference – speakers Ken Livingstone and Bruce Kent.

15 – 17 January  Nottingham

Peace News winter gathering

Tel  020 7278 3344 for info.

23 January  10.30 – 3.30

Conway Hall Labour CND conference – open to all

28 January Protest at the international conference on Afghanistan organised by Gordon Brown.   Tel 020-7278 6694 for info.

15 February

Aldermaston Blockade

16 February 7.30 Hinde St Methodist Church nr Bond St MANA concert for peace.

Tel: 020 8455 1030

Printed and published by Brentwood CND, 26 Mascalls Gardens, CM14 5LT   01277 216712

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Autumn 2009

ONE DOWN? THREE TO GO

Gordon Brown’s recent offer to cut Britain’s
planned new Trident submarines from four to
three, is very welcome and, together with his
further proposal to cut Britain’s stock of nuclear
warheads from 160 to around 120 is a small but
potentially significant step along the road to
nuclear disarmament. The government is also
delaying its so-called ‘initial gate’ decision on
whether to replace Trident at all, which was due to
be made in September this year.

Submarine rising out of the water

This decision is now postponed pending the outcome of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2010. This of course means that the whole question of the renewal of Trident is now on hold until after a general election – when the Conservatives are likely to be in power.   Nonetheless we must seek comfort from the fact that, for the moment at least, the tide is flowing the right way.

CND’s campaigning on the High Street and our leafleting and petitioning in Brentwood have, I am certain, played a role, however small, in this breakthrough.   Certainly, keeping the nuclear issue at the forefront of the political agenda does affect issues like the public opinion polls which now, for the first time in our history, show a majority in favour of scrapping nuclear weapons.   However, clearly the immediate causes for this change of heart are the dire state of the economy

and, most of all, President Obama’s own disarmament proposals.  In his brief time in office,   he has cancelled the Polish and Czech missile defence plans, reached an agreement with President Medvedev on the reduction of their nuclear arsenals and chaired a special session of the UN Security Council on disarmament, which produced a unanimous resolution for creating ‘conditions for a world without nuclear weapons’.

Britain’s role in this, in the run up to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Review Conference, remains, in spite of its recent disarmament offers, ambiguous.   There is a central contradiction at the heart of the British government policy on nuclear weapons.  It talks the language of peace and disarmament but spends its money on new weapons of war.   If  the government is challenged on what steps it has taken towards nuclear disarmament, which is one of the conditions of the Non-proliferation treaty, it will tell you, amongst other things, that it has reduced the explosive power of its nuclear arsenal by 75% since the Cold War.  This is even proudly quoted by our MP in a letter to Brentwood CND in September this year (see over).  But this is not a reduction in operational effectiveness.   We have got rid of obsolete weapons such as free fall bombs which are highly vulnerable in today’s world of sophisticated air defences and, although we have reduced the number of Trident warheads to no more than 160, we have not reduced the number that are deployed at any one time.  It is more about good housekeeping than real disarmament.   The number of independently targetable warheads – 144 – is the same as 10 years ago and there is no reduction in the number of targets which the Trident system could destroy.   Nonetheless, there is a disarmament momentum set in motion and we in CND must seize the unique opportunity which this presents.

ERIC PICKLES LETTER

As part of CND’s campaign to persuade MPs to demand further parliamentary debate on Trident renewal I sent my postcard to Eric Pickles.   He first responded by presenting the Conservative case for maintaining nuclear weapons- the usual story that we need them for our security to meet the challenges (as yet unknown and, it appeared, unknowable) of an ever changing world.   From reading replies from other Conservative MPs, this is clearly the party line, barely distinguishable from that of most Labour MPs.    I replied by asking him 3 questions.

1.         Given the ‘threat to our security’ from unknown enemies, present and future, could he ever envisage a time when Britain would not need nuclear weapons.  If not, then what was the point in being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty?

2.         What steps had Britain taken towards nuclear disarmament (one of its obligations under the NPT)?

3.         If we need nuclear weapons for our security then how do we explain to the 180 or so countries of the world which do not have them, why they don’t need them too?

This is the text of his reply:

Thank you for your further correspondence about the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).  I am grateful to you for getting in touch and for bringing your concerns to my attention.

The NPT obliges Member States to comply with the three pillars of the treaty: non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear technology, but does not impose any legal obligation upon them to abolish (his highlighting) their nuclear arsenals.  Instead, Article VI requires member states to engage in future negotiations towards complete disarmament of nuclear weapons.

(The actual wording is ‘with the ultimate aim of eliminating those weapons’ but can someone please explain this distinction to me?   Is Eric Pickles really suggesting that the treaty requires us to engage in negotiations towards complete disarmament of nuclear weapons without actually getting rid of them? What kind of linguistic gymnastics is this?)

Britain has already taken significant recent steps towards fulfilling its obligations under the NPT.   Since the end of the Cold War, Britain has reduced its stockpile of nuclear weapons by around 75%, so that we currently have only around 160 such weapons operationally available.   The WE-117 free fall nuclear bombs (dropped by Tornado aircraft) were withdrawn in March 1998.

(See comment on this claim on page 1).
The UK has the smallest stockpile of nuclear warheads amongst the nuclear weapons states recognised under the NPT, and is the only one to have reduced to a single deterrent system.   In addition to this, Britain signed the Comprehensive Nuclear test ban Treaty in 1996 which prohibits the testing of nuclear weapons.
The NPT has been the cornerstone of world security for 40 years.   Conservatives call on our Government, ahead of the crucial review conference of the non-proliferation treaty in 2010, to build now the international consensus to make far harder the illicit production of nuclear weapons and the trading of their components.   This, looking ahead, is one of the great global challenges, a challenge to which the next Conservative Government will rise.
Once again, thank you………..etc.
Once more we see the typical fudging of the NPT requirements whereby the treaty is seen merely as a way of keeping nuclear weapons away from those who don’t have them whilst ignoring the call to those with them to abolish them.

Missile taking off

However, change is in the air and there is increasing talk of disarmament.  In addition to Brown’s offers to reduce warheads and submarines there has been the announcement of  a top-level disarmament group formed of ex-ministers and retired military officers.   Its members include former Labour ministers, Des Browne, Margaret Beckett, John Reid, Lord Robertson, Conservatives Malcolm Rifkind and Michael Ancram and Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams.   There are also three former chiefs of the defence staff, General Lord Guthrie, Field Marshall Lord Inge and Admiral Lord Boyce.   Such groupings are important, because, in the case of disarmament it is not the technology which is lacking – that is relatively straightfor- ward.   The political will is the problem.

CND NATIONAL CONFERENCE

People at the CND National Conference

CND National Conference in October this year was part International Conference and part annual general meeting.   The International Conference presented an enormous variety of speakers and was testimony to the very hard work put in by Kate Hudson, chair of CND,  who has been instrumental in expanding CND’s crucial international work.   All speakers emphasised the importance of the coming 9 months, leading up to the NPT review in May in New York .  In Britain, in addition, we have the twin issues of the Trident replacement debate and a general election we are likely to have at least 300 new MPs, plus, obviously, an even greater number of candidates.   There is plenty of work there in terms of lobbying and bringing the nuclear issue into public debate.  Kate will be working full-time for CND during this period as she has taken a year’s unpaid leave from her job.   In Brentwood we hope to make our contribution  with our occasional stalls (see page 4) and some additional campaigning in the run-up to the general election.

AFGHANISTAN AND NATO

As NATO troops find themselves increasingly bogged down in Afghanistan, and many member states, want to abandon what is increasingly seen as an unwinnable war, and as British and American troops are being wounded and killed in increasing numbers, we find Britain and the USA contemplating sending even more troops to fight the Taliban.   It is perhaps worth trying to recall what reasons have been given us for being there in the first place: it was to find Osama bin Laden and those responsible for the 9/11 attacks in New York, to prevent further terrorist attacks on the West by getting rid of the Taliban and their training camps, to bring democracy to the country, to win hearts and minds by helping development.   Not on one single count has there been any success and, after 8 years of war the security situation is worse than ever.  NATO’s presence in Afghanistan is acting as a recruiting sergeant for the Taliban.   In fact the very real challenge from hard-line militant religious fundamentalism is in Pakistan, a nuclear power and a country of far more economic and strategic importance than Afghanistan which is becoming destabilised by the huge increase in suicide bomb attacks and the NATO air attacks.

As always in war the real reasons are never revealed by Governments.  Clearly, as is so often the case, this is a war about resources, securing gas and oil pipelines and ensuring that compliant governments are in place to facilitate US domi- nance.   More specifically, however, this war is also about the future of NATO.   Since the end of the Cold War, NATO, rather than disbanding as did the Warsaw Pact, has been trying to find a new role.   As the countries of Eastern Europe embraced free market economies and multiparty democracy, the US moved rapidly to integrate them into the US sphere of influence via NATO.   As more and more countries joined this nuclear armed alliance (which has led to nuclear bombs being stationed in Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Turkey) so NATO has constantly to redefine its role as a military alliance.   Afghanistan is crucial to this project and NATO cannot afford to be seen to fail.

AFGHANISTAN AND YOUR WHITE POPPY

White poppy with peace in the centre

Another fall-out from the Afghan war is the rising numbers of British casualties who will be remembered on Remembrance Sunday this year.   This ceremony which once consisted of grieving relatives, for whom it was an important way of mourning their dead, has now become a military-led parade which far from regretting the cruel waste of all the lives lost (both soldiers and their victims), reaffirms the noble and heroic purpose of the military  and sees war as acceptable and natural.  We best remember the dead by working for peace – so do wear the white poppy enclosed in this copy of WIRE.

NOVEMBER STALLS

In the build up to the NPT review conference in May at the UN (and to our own General Election), it is important that we maintain the profile of CND locally and keep nuclear weapons on the political agenda.  Before Christmas, therefore, we are running two stalls (near the Beckett Chapel ruins) on 7th November and on 21st November, from 11am – 12.30pm, where we shall be collecting signatures for the No Trident Renewal petition which also includes a plea to support the international nuclear weapons convention to outlaw all nuclear weapons.  On the 7th November, the day before Remembrance Sunday, we shall also be selling white poppies.

Do join us for part of that time if you can – to help out (particularly on 7th) or just to say hello.

NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY IN EDINBURGH

From 13th – 15th November NATO will be meeting in Edinburgh for its regular parliament session.   Scottish CND are arranging a series of events, one of which will be a demonstration on 14th November calling upon NATO to abandon its reliance on strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.   Leading members of the Scottish parliament, the main churches and the trade unions will be supporting it – all CND members are encouraged to join (and, perhaps, have a very nice weekend in Edinburgh at the same time).   Assemble East Market Street at 12 noon.

ICAN

One of the international contributors to CND’s International Conference on 10th October, was John Loretz,

Program Director at Inter- national Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War which is a major supporter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, known ‘acronymically’ (and nowadays most appropriately) as ican.   The value of John’s contribution was that he was able to bring us back to the basics of why we are so opposed to nuclear weapons – something he often has to do when campaigning for the nuclear weapons convention.

In the world today there is a total of approximately 23,000 nuclear warheads.

If just 100 of these were dropped there would be 1 billion deaths and 10 years of nuclear winter.

He has campaigned in Israel with his message and, as a result, 45 mayors have signed up to the anti-nuclear Mayors for Peace campaign.

The figure of 23,000 warheads is distributed in the following way:

WARHEADS OWNED BY NUCLEAR WEAPONS STATES

Russia:          13,000

(of which 8,000 are in reserve or awaiting dismantlement.)

USA:              9,400

France:              300

China:               240

UK:                    160

Israel:              80 – 100

India:                60 – 70

Pakistan:            60+

North Korea      6 – 10

Eric Pickles was therefore right when he wrote in his letter (see page 2) that Britain had the lowest number of warheads amongst the nuclear weapons states recognised by the NPT but this boast becomes meaningless when one considers their lethal potential.   It is certainly no cause for pride.

NUCLEAR FUNDAMENTALISM

Fundamentalism is a popular topic of conversation so here, with thanks to Bruce Kent is the nuclear version.

  • The dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the only way of ending WW2.
  • Nuclear weapons are safe in sensible hands.  That is why we must halt proliferation and hold on to them ourselves.
  • Nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented so they cannot be abolished.
  • There is no link between nuclear weapon development and other global security threats.
  • This is all beyond me and I cannot do anything about it.

Any of this sound familiar?

DIARY DATES

Saturday, 7th November

11.00 – 12.30  Stall in Brentwood High Street near Chapel ruins.   White poppies.

Sunday, 8th November

Imperial War Museum

Annual Movement for the Abolition of War Remembrance Lecture by Dr Mark Levene, Reader in Comparative History at Southampton University.

Ring 01908 511 948 for details.

Saturday, 14th November

Edinburgh  from 12 noon.  Demonstration to accompany Nato’s visit.

Saturday 21st November

Stall 11am – 12.30 in Brentwood

Monday 15th February

Trident Ploughshares blockade of Aldermaston.

Info  0845 458 8366

(See comment on this claim on page 1).
The UK has the smallest stockpile of nuclear
warheads amongst the nuclear weapons states
recognised under the NPT, and is the only one
to have reduced to a single deterrent system. In
addition to this, Britain signed the Comprehensive
Nuclear test ban Treaty in 1996 which prohibits
the testing of nuclear weapons.
The NPT has been the cornerstone of world
security for 40 years. Conservatives call on
our Government, ahead of the crucial review
conference of the non-proliferation treaty in
2010, to build now the international consensus to
make far harder the illicit production of nuclear
weapons and the trading of their components.
This, looking ahead, is one of the great global
challenges, a challenge to which the next
Conservative Government will rise.
Once again, thank you………..etc.
Once more we see the typical fudging of the NPT
requirements whereby the treaty is seen merely
as a way of keeping nuclear weapons away from
those who don’t have them whilst ignoring the
call to those with them to abolish them.
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