Letter from Lesley Docksey
I would like the deliberations of the Foreign
Affairs Committee Inquiry, Global Security: Non-Proliferation
to take the following submission into account.
Before going into more detail, I will make these
The first (and how many times do
those in favour of disarmament have to make this point?) is that
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty does not allow the
P5 to maintain nuclear weapons; it simply recognises that
those states possessed and had tested nuclear weapons at the time
of the drawing up of the Treaty. Under Article 6 they committed
themselves to disarmament.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty has
been effective in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to
The P5 are modernising their
nuclear arsenals, not honouring their commitments.
Unless there is genuine movement
on the part of the P5, the NPT is in danger of collapse.
The British Government's stated goal is "to
counter weapons proliferation and its causes." Let us
look at the British Government's non-proliferation approach, as
set out in the National Security Strategy:
4.17 Our approach to proliferation reflects
our commitment to
multilateralism and the rules-based international
If the Government is committed to the "rules-based
international system", this includes the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty which, by keeping and updating the Trident missile programme,
the United Kingdom is not complying with. The Government is therefore
demonstrating a lack of commitment to the "rules-based
international system", not otherwise.
4.20 In the run-up to the 2010 NPT conference,
we will lead the international effort to accelerate disarmament
among possessor states
"Possessor states" includes the United
Kingdom. Disarmament means disarmament. It does not mean reducing
the number of weapons we hold, while updating the remainder. It
means removing all nuclear weapons from our arsenal, something
the United Kingdom has signally failed to do since it signed the
Non-proliferation Treaty in 1968.
tackling chemical and biological
weapons. We will work to
press possessor states to
meet the agreed 2012 deadline for the destruction of chemical
We are a "possessor state". Does this
include our own weapons? Or will the Government continue researching
developing chemical and biological weapons "for defensive
purposes"in other words using the same approach as
for nuclear weaponsone rule for me, another rule for you?
My contention is that, in possessing these weapons
ourselves, we are one of the causes of proliferation. In particular,
our use of military force over the last few years has been viewed
by much of the world as a threat, has increased the risk of terrorism,
and has made it more rather than less likely that other states
would wish to arm themselves as a "deterrent".
The United Kingdom also causes weapons proliferation
by manufacturing and selling weapons, and arming states, which
states later become seen as a threat. Witness the arming of Iraq
with chemical and biological weapons, and then using Iraq's supposed
possession of them as a reason for a disastrous invasion.
Your terms of reference in this Inquiry are
to examine the work of the British Government in working towards
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's policy goal on countering
weapons proliferation and its causes.
While the NPT has had some success in preventing
the proliferation of nuclear weapons, international rules apply
to all states. When the P5 insist on keeping their
nuclear arsenals while demanding that other states get rid of
theirs, they are demonstrating that they consider themselves to
be beyond rules and laws, those rules and laws which they demand
other states comply with.
This one thing by itself makes any rules-based
international system completely ineffective, a discouragement
to any other state to disarm, and a very real encouragement to
other states to procure their own nuclear weapons. The very fact
that we continue to possess these weapons increases the security
threat to the world and our own country. Holding onto our nuclear
weapons does not protect usit simply increases the likelihood
of other states (rogue or otherwise) attempting to go along the
I repeatone cause of proliferation is
the UK's possession of WMD. While we continue to pour resources
into the research and development of WMD we do not make ourselves
secure; we pose a perceived threat to other states which some
will inevitably address by the production of WMD.
The National Security Strategy says we should
keep our nuclear arsenal:
maintaining our independent nuclear
deterrent, based on our 2006 assessment that we cannot rule
out a nuclear threat to the United Kingdom re-emerging over the
next 50 years.
We also cannot rule out a large meteor strike
on the United Kingdom in the next 50 years or that this country
will become uninhabitable due to climate change. We cannot do
anything to prevent a meteor, and we can only work to prevent
the worst effects of climate change, not to prevent climate change
itself. The nuclear threat we can do something about. The way
to rule out a nuclear threat is to remove all nuclear weapons
from the world, and that includes our weapons. The
Government cannot "lead the international effort to accelerate
disarmament among possessor states
" (see above) while
stating in the same document a commitment to maintaining our nuclear
But also in the National Security Strategy it
3.25 Our assessment remains the same as in
the 1998 Strategic Defence Review: for the foreseeable future,
no state or alliance will have both the intent and the capability
to threaten the United Kingdom militarily, either with nuclear
weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, or with conventional
"For the foreseeable future." The
Government cannot have it both ways. Either you can foresee the
possible re-emergence of a nuclear threat or you can foresee that
there is no threat.
The UK could and should take a world lead in
honouring its commitments under Article 6 and abandoning
plans to renew Trident. Apart from removing one of the causes
of proliferation, the country would benefit financially to the
tune of several billion pounds.
It could also stop its expensive military research into chemical
and biological weapons.
In today's financial climate, the country cannot afford to keep
these programmes running. And the money would be far better spent
elsewheretraining for and implementation of conflict resolution
would do far more for the security of this country (and the rest
of the world) than the possession of highly dangerous weapons,
the use of which, under international law, is illegal.
Finally, the Government should, in the long-term
security interests of the world, refuse the use of Menwith Hill
and Fylingdales bases for the US missile defence programme. The
US plan to place missile interceptors in Europe has greatly increased
insecurity in our part of the world. The agreement to site interceptors
in Poland has played a large part in the current tensions between
Russia, Europe and the US. We are beginning to see a new arms
race and a new cold warin other words, an increase in insecurity
and the further proliferation of weapons, something which the
Government insists it wishes to prevent.
I trust your Inquiry will point the Government
in the right direction and advise that the most fruitful way of
countering and preventing weapons proliferation is to start, in
the near future, with the destruction and disarmament of our own
4 September 2008
1 The Eurofighter, Trident and aircraft carrier programmes
as of now are costing us £5 billion a
year (Simon Jenkins Sunday Times 24 Feb 2008). Back
In 2004/5 the MoD spent £2.5 billion on military
research and development for "defence purposes" (figures
from Scientists for Global Responsibility). Back