Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament


  1.1  The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament campaigns non-violently to rid the world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and to create genuine security for future generations. British security is inextricably linked to the security of all nations and is, therefore, dependent on global stability. Our relationship with the United States must be one of mutual interest and the Committee's Inquiry is timely. It is to be hoped that the Inquiry will lead to UK-US relations being generally more open to parliamentary scrutiny.

  1.2  While it is clearly appropriate to concentrate on the impact of the new US administration, the trend in US foreign policy has been developing for over a decade into a more unilateralist approach. The tragic events of 11 September has prompted the US to seek almost universal co-operation in its response to the terrorist attacks. But how far that will translate into a change of direction and the development of a foreign policy based on multilateral treaties and the search for global stability built on justice and human rights remains to be seen.

  1.3  It is to be hoped that post 11 September not just the US but all militarily and/or economically powerful states consider in depth their responsibilities in the maintenance of an insecure and unjust world and the roles they could play in the development of an alternative for the future. British-US relations should not be judged solely in terms of the present crisis but in the wider context of foreign and security policy.

  1.4  Recommendations for immediate action:

    —  the UK government should be far more outspoken and public in its criticism of the US attitude to international treaties and international law,

    —  the UK government should refuse the US the use of military bases in the UK for its missile defence programmes,

    —  the UK government should not support the usurping of the authority and the role of the United Nations by NATO and/or the US,

    —  the UK government should support the extension of the influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),

    —  the UK government should act openly to restrain the excesses of US foreign policy and uphold the authority of the UN.


  2.1  The US policy with regard to arms control is the perfect example of its move away from the multilateral approach and its developing differences with British policy and interests. While these differences have been publicly obvious any criticism of the US by the UK has been private and muted.

  2.2  The UK as a nuclear weapon state (NWS) is rightly open to international criticism for retaining a nuclear weapons based security policy. However its efforts in international forums dealing with the control of weapons of mass destruction, while being far less adventurous and productive than CND would wish, have been thwarted at many a turn by the lack of US support and in some cases by outright opposition by the US.

  2.3  Double standards with regard to inspection and verification regimes seem to be at the heart of the US objections to the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and acceptance of the additional protocols to the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC). The US demands that other states, e.g. Iraq, are subject to rigorous inspection and verification procedures but that the US should be exempt since it perceives such regimes as against its national interest. This is apparent also in that US legislation has been passed which allows the President to limit the inspections for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

  2.4  The UK has been in the forefront of the negotiations for these treaties and protocols and clearly believes it would be in Britain's security interests if they entered into force. The US does not appear to understand or accept the interconnectedness of national and international interests and security.

  2.5  The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is stalled in major part because the US refuses to negotiate a treaty which would prevent an arms race in outer space (PAROS). All the other states are willing to do so, albeit reluctantly on the part of some.

  2.6  In the field of international law the US refusal to support the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for fear of possible legal action against its own military and legislation in Congress to enable US military action to release any US personnel held for trial by the ICC in the Hague shows myopic and highly dangerous self-interest. This problem and the divergence of UK and US policy has been demonstrated yet again in the environmental field over the Kyoto Treaty.

  2.7  The fact that the so-called British "independent nuclear deterrent" is actually mostly serviced and controlled by the US is not only an economic and strategic millstone around our necks it is also a leash which the US can use to create poodles of UK Prime Ministers.

  2.8  Recommendation for immediate action: the UK government should be far more outspoken and public in its criticism of the US attitude to international treaties and international law.

  2.9  Fundamental Recommendation: the UK itself should be more radical in its pursuit of global security, e.g. cancel the Trident programme and work for negotiations leading swiftly to the rapid, time-tabled abolition of nuclear forces world-wide.


  3.1  While CND believes we should move away from Cold War processes and strategy the direction chosen by the US is not in the interest of the UK or global stability. The ABM Treaty should not just be scrapped or amended into uselessness but rather become irrelevant through the abolition of nuclear weapons. Although it came into existence to maintain the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) it led directly to the SALT and START processes on the limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear weapons.

  3.2  The development of missile defence will re-define and consolidate deterrence. If the US and Russia and/or the US and China "do a deal" over missile defence it will mean the maintenance of nuclear weapons as part of the their security framework. That is at variance with their Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations and the commitment they and the other NWS made at the NPT Review Conference 2000 to abolish their nuclear arsenals. Missile defence will also feed the proliferation of nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles. As such it can not be seen as supplementing non-proliferation efforts.

  3.3  Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) could well be as destabilising as National Missile Defence (NMD). Deployment of TMD to cover Taiwan, for instance, would lead to a new arms race and the proliferation of WMD in Asia. The TMD systems already deployed are one of the major obstacles to progress towards a peaceful resolution in the Middle East. Further, post 11th September, TMD systems are likely to be viewed by the US as even more essential to their security framework.

  3.4  The US intends to deploy a "multi-layered" missile defence with systems under both the headings of TMD and NMD. In addition it is developing other delivery systems for nuclear weapons, such as the sub-orbital bomber, and other types of weapons, such as space-based lasers. Add also "mini-nukes" which will blur the boundary between conventional and nuclear weapons. The US is, by all means possible, including weapons in space: the full "Star Wars", pursuing a policy of "long reach" global military domination. This policy threatens the NPT and the Outer Space Treaty as well as the ABM Treaty.

  3.5  Clearly the British government should not be supporting the US against the security interests of the UK. There is no security benefit to the UK in missile defence. In fact the reverse is the case. Missile defence will create international instability, make nuclear conflict more likely and because of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill make Britain even more of a target in the event of conflict. Britain would also incur a financial cost which would put an extra strain on an already over-stretched UK Defence Budget.

  3.6  Menwith Hill is used by the US to gather commercial intelligence even more than military intelligence. This is not shared with Britain but is used to promote the interests of the US and US companies around the world, in many cases to the detriment of Britain and British companies.

  3.7  Recommendation for immediate action: the UK government should refuse the US the use of military bases in the UK for its missile defence programmes.

  3.8  Fundamental Recommendation: the UK should support the global abandonment of all missile defence programmes, promote a Ballistic Missile Convention (BMC) and work for the peaceful use of Outer Space.

4.  NATO

  4.1  The UK Government is entrenched in the concept of security through nuclear weapons since its nuclear forces are assigned to NATO. But NATO is a nuclear Cold War alliance reborn to project US foreign policy around the world. Even the NATO General Secretary George Robertson is reported as complaining that "he just works as an American lackey all the time" (The Independent, 31/10/00).

  4.2  NATO continues to maintain that "Nuclear weapons. . .remain essential to preserve peace". This is clearly at variance with reality as the numerous wars over the years and the present crisis testify. It also ignores the 1996 World Court Advisory Opinion on the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Even if the survival of a state is at stake no weapon can be used if it violates humanitarian law. Further, NATO is not a state. The insistence that nuclear weapons are "essential" is also at variance with the statement that the NATO states are "committed to the full implementation" of the NPT. In fact the maintenance of the nuclear alliance is clearly one of the main causes of the present disarray in the international nuclear disarmament process.

  4.3  This policy also ignores public opinion in NATO states. There have been numerous polls in recent years which indicate clearly that people wish their governments to pursue the global abolition of nuclear weapons seriously and urgently. The growing support by governments, including those of NATO states, for the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) is further evidence of an overwhelming desire for change.

  4.4  That the 1999 Strategic Concept which states that "The fundamental purpose of the nuclear forces of the Allies is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war" was agreed by the NATO member states when they were at war with Yugoslavia shows vividly the gap between reality and nuclear policy.

  4.5  The supposed development of NATO as a peace-making/peace-keeping alliance is hardly in line with its maintenance of a firm nuclear policy. A first-use policy in Britain's case and a first-strike policy in the case of the US. The development is also further evidence of the US policy of usurping the authority and the role of the United Nations.

  4.6  The expansion of NATO will further destabilise European security and put even greater financial pressure on Central and Eastern European states and Russia. It is clearly aimed at increasing US political, economic and military influence but will not be of benefit to Britain or Europe in the long term.

  4.7  Recommendation for immediate action: the UK government should not support the usurping of the authority and the role of the United Nations by NATO and/or the US.

  4.8  Fundamental Recommendation: Britain should withdraw from NATO and all foreign military bases on British soil should be closed.


  5.1  Although CND clearly has major reservations concerning relations between the UK and the US we do not see the development of a European Superstate or Superpower based on the EU as an alternative which will enhance European or global security. The commercial arguments we will leave to others as they are not of direct concern to CND. A significant loosening of the foreign policy ties between the UK and the US and the development of an alternative view of European security would be welcome. However the emerging process of militarising the EU is another dangerous blind alley which could in years to come deliver a new Cold War.

  5.2  The EU should not become the new US with the same self-serving and globally destabilising foreign and security policy. The joint European Union/European Space Agency (EU/ESA) Strategy published last year indicates a desire to follow the US lead in Space. The Strategy aims to militarise the European Space Programme and make the EU second only to the US in Space and deny other states access to Space.

  5.3  With this as an example how long will it be before there is a call for a nuclear dimension to joint EU security? There needs to be a radical alternative to US dominated European security which does not ape and compete with the US but rather uses international law, multilateral treaties and conflict prevention with regional solutions to regional problems in the context of a reformed UN.

  5.4  The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the regional UN agency, not NATO nor the EU. As such it should form the basis of European security, with in addition, if necessary, military actions taken under the auspices of the UN.

  5.5  Recommendation for immediate action: the UK government should support the extension of the influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

  5.6  Fundamental Recommendation: Britain should work for no military nuclearisation of the European Union and for formal Nuclear Weapons Free Zones in Europe to be established.


  6.1  The different attitudes which the UK and the US have towards the UN are often masked in actions taken by the desire of the UK government to follow US foreign policy even when it is against UK fundamental beliefs and security interests.

  6.2  The UK clearly supports the basic tenets of the UN even if critical of some of its work and agencies. Whereas the US appears at odds with the basic principle of formal international co-operation based on the rights of the peoples of the world. It is recalcitrant in paying its dues and seems intent on using the UN for its own ends where possible and ignoring it where not.

  6.3  Unfortunately too often the UK follows the US lead and undermines the authority and the role of the UN by supporting the use of NATO action or even supporting the US when no other state will. The continued sanctions against and bombing of Iraq is a case in point. There is a greater chance of denying weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein if weapons inspections could take place as has been shown in the past. The support being given by the UK to the US in this matter is counter-productive with regard to anti-proliferation and global security and therefore against UK interests.

  6.4  The support the UK government has shown the US post 11th September also indicates a willingness to usurp the authority and role of the UN. Clearly the UN resolution to bring the perpetrators to justice should be pursued by the UN and an ICC. The US as victims of the horrific crime should not be acting as the police, judge and jury in the matter. The UK support not only undermines the UN it also helps maintain a "them and us" culture around the world which feeds international terrorism and is against Britain's long-term security interests.

  6.5  Recommendation for immediate action: the UK government should act openly to restrain the excesses of US foreign policy and uphold the authority of the UN.

  6.6  Fundamental Recommendation: Britain should pursue more keenly global security based on international law, multilateral treaties, conflict prevention and regional solutions to regional problems in the context of a reformed UN.

Dave Night

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

October 2001

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