Global Security: Non-Proliferation - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Letter from Ann Hillier

  Today there is a crisis looming again between the states of East and West and the work of the Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry is vital in maintaining a peaceful outcome. I would like to make three points.

    1. The NPT has been effective in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and other states to a large extent. It was a good treaty and has helped to keep a peaceful and safer world for millions of people, but it is time to move it to on to the next stage and protect new generations from what we have lived through. I hope the Committee will take this opportunity to make a bold step forward.

    2. The P5 countries—China, France, Russia, UK, US—are continuing to modernise their nuclear arsenals. This is against the principles of the NPT even if not against the rules as laid down. We are planning to develop Trident and "improve" its capabilities, but we are not working towards "a cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date". Those words were written in 1968 and we are no nearer achieving this the main purpose of the Treaty. We need to take action if we are to expect anyone else to take action, and I hope this will be a main concern of the Committee.

    3. Today Russia is feeling beleaguered and hemmed in by a growing European Union, and NATO, which has led to military action in Georgia. Unless steps are taken to relieve the understandable pressures on the Russian government, then there are likely to be more tanks on the streets, or other violent responses to the situation. What we could do to ease this situation is to ensure that the US does not use our bases at Fylingdales and Menwith Hill for their new missile defence system, and encourage them to pull out of their plans in Poland. We do not have to agree to all US requests, and by making a stand on this we would be reassuring Russia that there is no strategy for a new "Cold War".

1 September 2008

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