Global Security: Non-Proliferation - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

 Letter from Mrs Raymonde Hainton

  Until now the NPT has been effective in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries apart from Israel, India and Pakistan and North Korea.

  The NPT defines China, France, Russia, UK and US (the P5) as Nuclear weapon states. Article IX.3 says "For the purposes of this Treaty a nuclear weapon state is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive prior to 1 Jan 1967." The UK government argues that this clause allows the P5 to have nuclear weapons. Article IX.3 does not say that these states are legally entitled to possess these weapons. In fact, under Article VI we are committed to pursuing negotiations to get rid of them. Article IX.3 is merely a definition, not a justification.

  The Foreign Office has frequently stated that the ultimate aim of the British Government is the global elimination of nuclear weapons. However, the British Government, far from honouring our commitment under Article VI of the NPT, is modernising our nuclear arsenal. Shortly before the summer recess a senior defence official informed the arms industry of the government's plans to spend £3 billion to replace our 160 nuclear warheads. Parliament has not been consulted on this matter.

  Unless there is a genuine movement by the P5 to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament" (Article VI of NPT) the NPT is in danger of collapse. The NPT is a disarmament treaty. The non-nuclear powers agreed not to get nuclear weapons in return for the nuclear powers negotiating to get rid of theirs (Article II of NPT). If we replace Trident we commit ourselves to keeping nuclear weapons for another 50 years. It is hypocrisy to expect the non-nuclear powers to keep their side of the bargain, not to get nuclear weapons, if we are not negotiating for nuclear disarmament.

  The UK could show real leadership in foreign policy at the NPT Review in 2010 by promoting a Nuclear Weapons Convention for the abolition of nuclear weapons. A draft treaty to this effect has already been tabled at the United Nations.

  The agreement to site US missile defence interceptors in Poland has produced a predictably dangerous response from Russia.

  The UK should refuse to allow the US to use the Yorkshire bases of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill for the US missile defence system, which is leading to a new arms race.

9 September 2008

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