Submission from the Religious Society
of Friends (Quakers)
1.1 The Religious Society of Friends in
Britain is a religious denomination with 16,000 members in
470 worshipping communities. We are committed to working
for peaceful and effective responses to violence and social injustice.
1.2 The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
has a long history of seeking peaceful solutions to intractable
political problems. We are committed to an understanding of security
that recognises the inherent, absolute worth of every person,
and to long-term sustainable security built on trust and mutual
2. THE RULES-BASED
2.1 We welcome the government's stated commitment
to the rules-based international system, and its continuing support
for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the cornerstone
of the international community's approach to non-proliferation.
2.2 We emphasise the dual-nature of the
NPT, requiring that nuclear weapons states should take steps towards
disarmament in return for those states that do not have nuclear
weapons undertaking not to develop them. Article VI includes the
provision that "Parties to the Treaty undertake 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,
and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict
and effective international control".
2.3 Although we welcome the UK's 20% reduction
in its operationally available warheads, we are concerned that
this decision was announced alongside the decision to renew Tridentthe
UK's nuclear submarine systemwhich we regard as displaying
a deep-seated reliance on nuclear weapons.
2.4 We consider the 2007 decision to
replace the Trident nuclear weapons system to be incompatible
with our obligations under the NPT. The replacement programme
sends the unedifying message that such weapons systems are morally
acceptable. It encourages other States to develop these weapons
systems and it undermines the rules-based international system
to which the government has emphasised its commitment.
2.5 We regret the UK government support
for the recent Nuclear Suppliers Group decision to endorse the
US nuclear agreement with India. This decision weakens the NPT
and undermines the rules-based international system by signalling
that there are benefits to remaining outside of the NPT regime.
2.6 We welcome the fact that the National
Security Strategy (NSS)for the first time in a government
document of this natureemphasises the interdependence of
different issues affecting the UK's security. However, we regret
that it fails to make any link between the UK's decision to renew
its Trident nuclear weapons system and the impact this has on
non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.
3. THE UK GOVERNMENT
3.1 We welcome the government's willingness
to work outside of orthodox approaches and with partners beyond
governmentincluding an offer to host a technical conference
for the 5 NWS on the verification of nuclear disarmament.
We note that by working outside normal channels, the UK government
was recently able to contribute significantly to making the agreement
on the new Cluster Munitions Convention possible. We urge the
government to pursue such independent approacheswhich we
regard as essential tools in helping to break deadlocks.
3.2 We commend the government's decision
to remain fully engaged in the work of the UN Conference on Disarmament.
This body remains important and it is crucial that the UK as a
NWS continue to seek to break the deadlock.
3.3 We commend the government for pressing
for entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
at the earliest possible moment, and for seeking agreement to
start negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).
We also commend the government's continuing and active role in
sustaining and strengthening the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) regimes.
3.4 We regret that the government's approach
to non-proliferationset out in the NSS as "Dissuade,
Detect, Deny and Defend"makes only one mention of
nuclear disarmament, and fails to acknowledge the essential role
that disarmament plays in non-proliferation efforts.
3.5 We believe that for non-proliferation
efforts to succeed, Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) need to recognise
that so long as they still regard nuclear weapons as fundamental
to their security, other states will seek to acquire nuclear weapons
as a means of ensuring their own security. We affirm the words
of Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic
Energy Agency, who in 2005 said: "As long as some countries
place strategic reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent, other
countries will emulate them. We cannot delude ourselves into thinking
3.6 We consider it a necessity that NWS
such as the UK remain seriously engaged in multilateral arms control
and disarmament efforts, if we are to prevent proliferation. We
affirm the comments of the Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague
that "Showing that we take our disarmament commitments seriously
is a vital part of winning the moral argument against nuclear
3.7 As regards UK government attempts to
prevent NNWS from acquiring nuclear weapons, we advocate firm
diplomacy linked with strong signals of one's own willingness
to move towards nuclear disarmament as key to non-proliferation
4.1 We welcome the government's undertaking
to lead the international effort to accelerate disarmament among
possessor states as well as its goal of a positive outcome at
the 2010 NPT Review Conference. We believe that the 2010 Conference
will be critical and we urge the government to ensure progress
at the conference by making firm steps to implement its Article
4.2 We call on the government to: implement
fully the 13 steps as agreed at the 2000 NPT Review
Conference, to report on UK's progress towards achieving these
at the 2010 Conference and to encourage other NWS to do the
4.3 A unilateral act of disarmament by a NWS
would be the most significant step that the UK could take in breaking
the deadlock in negotiating towards non-proliferation. We therefore
call on the government to exercise bold leadership by incorporating
its disarmament obligations into its approach to non-proliferation
and by rejecting nuclear weapons as a tool for security.
14 October 2008