Submission from Kingston Peace Council,
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
We welcome the amended terms of reference and
extended submissions deadline. We feel that there may be a little
that can usefully be added to our original submission of September
2008, and we are grateful for this opportunity to offer a few
comments addressing points in the extended remit.
1. Debatable distinction between nuclear and
conventional weapons' proliferation.
Whilst it is accepted that nuclear weapons are
intended for the delivery of incomparable global decimation we
do not believe it is advisable, when considering proliferation,
to isolate them purely because of the technology employed to create
the devastation. The bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 were
seen militarily as a logical extension to the bombing campaign
directed at the Japanese mainland, its military capability, infrastructure,
and its cities and civilian populations. The nuclear bombing superseded
1,000-bomber raids whose effects were almost as devastating; though
less dramatic, "efficient" and absolute. (The cataclysmic
nuclear destruction was compounded by the effects of radiation
release which burns and destroys humans tortuously, and continues
to this day.) Undoubtedly there are differences between conventional
and nuclear weapons but the 1945 Japanese campaign teaches
us that nuclear weapons are a logical progression in campaigns
focused on the total annihilation of an opponent and an opponent's
civilisation, ie: should available conventional weapons be found
wanting then nuclear weapons are the next logical step. But given
sufficient conventional capability it is possible to visit annihilating
assaults on opponent's civilisations, so it seems illogical to
disregard proliferation of conventional weaponry which feeds the
destructive impulses leading to possible nuclear weapons' use.
In considering proliferation it is, in our view, essential to
consider proliferation of all weapons that enable the accomplishment
of the death or destruction of an opponent. Without the means
to accomplish an outrageous plan it remains a crazy idea, and
conversely the more means are available the more feasible is the
possibility of an outrageous plan's fulfillment.
2. Inducements favour non-observation of rules
There are already a range of regulations and
restrictions which, if properly observed, would have the effect
of dampening-down inclinations to proliferate. However, flouting
these rules is not uncommon, Britain does not enjoy an unblemished
record and government continues to devote disproportionate resources
to promoting arms manufacturing and export through UKTI DSO, and
other government activity. An unfortunate consequence of the exceptional
financial gain achievable from arms trading, and of government
support for sales and manufacture, is the tendency for ways to
be found to subvert the intentions of regulation and of moral
and ethical proclamations.
3. Recent assertion of military might encourages
Example can significantly influence others around
the world. The use of military means to achieve an objective,
particularly where the objective is widely seen as of doubtful
integrity, sets an example to others who may be encouraged to
contemplate the use of similar means to meet their own objectives.
And any tacit encouragement of military engagement could lead
others to consider revising their military capability for defensive
purposes. We believe that examples of recent military incursions
by western powers promote increased global demand for weapons
and accelerated proliferation.
4. NATO expansions threaten to encourage proliferation.
Following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact,
NATO has pursued a relentless expansion into the eastern European
territory formerly in its embrace. This expansion incorporates
an existing commitment to first-strike nuclear use and facilitates
an eastward movement of anti-ballistic missile installations effectively
able to neutralise reciprocal nuclear attacks. These measures
have the effect of provoking further proliferation in response.
5. Need to consider range of factors favouring
In considering proliferation we believe it unrealistic
not to look at a range of contributory factors helping create
a climate favourable for proliferation, like the examples above.
Proliferation doesn't occur in a vacuum, and all weapons, including
nuclear weapons, are potentially the tools for realising perverted
ambitions of death, destruction, and ultimately of annihilation.
To counter proliferation it is necessary to consider all contributory
influences and address them all as appropriate.
6. The intentions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Signatories to the NNPT plan to update nuclear
arsenals and have no proposals to honour the pledge to disarm.
Of the eight nuclear states, five are NNPT signatories and the
three non-NNPT signatories, India, Israel, and Pakistan are warm
allies of the United States. Meanwhile the United States continues
to maintain pressure for punitive measures against Iran because
of its "nuclear programme", despite the recent National
Intelligence Estimate concluding that there is no Iranian nuclear
weapon programme. The continuing expansion of nuclear weapons
globally, including the unconditional acceptance of proliferation
beyond the original five NNPT signatories, does not inspire confidence
in the sincerity of claims about supporting non-proliferation
and disarmament. The singular treatment of Iran, which has neither
weapons nor proposals for nuclear weapons, looks perverse and
vindictive and it might incline others to believe it best to take
evasive measures lest they be targeted for similar treatment for
not having nuclear weapons. International co-operation is essential
for agreement on non-proliferation but on the evidence it is hard
to put trust in current arrangements to effectively deter proliferation.
7. Non-Proliferation needs international co-operation
Only by all parties coming together to agree
that they will jointly co-operate in reducing weapons will it
be possible to implement agreements about weapons limitation.
Otherwise any individual nation which agrees to limitation, without
a reciprocal agreement, runs the risk of exposing itself to the
possibility of attack by those not signed up to weapons limitation
or non-proliferation. The continuing expenditure on weapons, nuclear
weapons' updates and renewals, the relentless march of NATO eastwards
and its commitment to first-strike nuclear weapons' use, the ruthless
employment of military might directed against the lightly defended
sovereign states of Afghanistan and Iraq, which have suffered
untold numbers of dead and suffering, and the installation of
an elaborate shield which effectively precludes retaliation for
a NATO nuclear strike, doesn't create an atmosphere conducive
to trust and negotiation vital to agreement on non-proliferation
of any weapons whatever.
Agreements to limit the spread of
weapons, and consequently the potential for harm, do need to start
somewhere and we believe it logical to consider Weapons of Mass
Destruction and illegal weapons with the greatest destructive
power potential first.
Weapons cannot be un-invented and
states possessing devices with such destructive potential as modern
nuclear weapons are obligated to behave with the utmost restraint,
deliberation, ethics and responsibility.
The idea of a club of nuclear grandees,
having unassailable rights to ownership, determining who, and
who should not, be allowed to join is a very hard sell even when
all the circumstances are favourable. The disposition of the responsibilities
and roles in the nuclear proliferation debate is an accident of
history, owing nothing to consensus in the 21st century and little
to merit. Even if the key players had behaved with impeccable
integrity, their authority is entirely dependent on the acquiescence
of others. This is not a sound basis for international agreement
about nuclear weapons or anything else.
The select group of signatories to
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is viewed with scepticism
and the process is so discredited that overdue alternatives are
urgently needed if real progress in non-proliferation is to be
Any agreement for restricting the
proliferation of weapons, including illegal Weapons of Mass Destruction
like chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, is to be welcomed.
Recent agreements on the use of mines and cluster munitions will
save untold innocent lives (it is reliably reported that in the
past five years over 40,000 unintended civilian deaths and
injuries were caused by mines and other unexploded munitions),
and agreements curtailing reprehensible arms trading are to be
We don't doubt that there are sincere
individuals of high integrity, at various levels, engaged in the
debate about non-proliferation, arms trading and limitation, but
it is our observation that this unqualified attribute may not
extend to all the key players. Without a proper representative
mechanism, unfettered by vested interest, there is no adequate
framework for constructing effective workable and enduring agreements.
It is better to have the debate than
not but we are not confident that the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Review Conference will take note of inconvenient conclusions or
recommendations that result.
To advance the cause of non-proliferation
significantly we believe it necessary the task be undertaken by
a properly convened representative body that enjoys international
recognition. It could be the proposed Nuclear Weapons Convention
(supported by UN resolution and by a cross party group in the
European Parliament) or, with an expanded remit to consider both
non-proliferation and disarmament of a range of weapons, including
conventional weapons, the United Nations Disarmament Commission.
We hope the Committee will feel that our contributions
have been useful. As British electors we believe we have a responsibility
to engage in the debate and share our analysis and observations,
and we sincerely hope that you do too.
23 November 2008