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Opinion: UK Nuclear Warhead Proposals Breaches UN Obligations, Says Peace Party

Published on: 2 May, 2021
Updated on: 2 May, 2021

The second of the Opinion pieces from the parties standing in the Surrey County Council election on May 6…… You can see all of the political Opinion articles here and the list of candidates with a brief résumé here.

By John Morris

Candidate for Guildford West

The Peace Party supports the Global Campaign on Military Spending UK in its response to the UK Government’s Global Britain in a Competitive Age: Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (March 16, 2021), and the related Defence Command Paper, Defence in a Competitive Age (March 22). We join GCOMS UK in having grave concerns about both documents.

John Morris of The Peace Party.

The Peace Party, with GCOMS UK, rejects the main assumptions:

  •  that the complexities of the geo-political environment require the UK to boost its hostile posture through increased investment, especially in high-tech weaponry. This posture is already exacerbating international tensions, in particular with China and Russia. It will stimulate an arms race to dominate other states through mastery of a range of emerging technologies, as well as boosting older systems such as nuclear weapons;
  • the 40% increase in the cap on nuclear warheads, taking the UK’s potential capacity to 260. We join other organisations and experts arguing this constitutes an act of vertical proliferation violating the spirit of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the UK’s responsibilities as a Depositary State. It will encourage others to break their own commitments, engendering a dangerous spiral of mutual threat; and
  • the increase in military spending (announced in November 2020), amounts to £24 billion on top of existing budget levels, an average £6bn increase over the four years 2021-25, the largest percentage increase in over 70 years.

The Policies and Principles of the Peace Party:

  • would never support these proposals and will prepare the ground for a wholly different policy framework, looking at the subject from the angle of human security rather than a spurious notion of ‘Global Britain’ that appears to be rooted in outdated imperial pretensions;
  • supports urgent discussion of the UK’s participation in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. At the very least the UK should commit to attending the 1st Conference of Parties to the Treaty following the statement from the UN Secretary-General’s office saying that the proposed UK increase in nuclear warheads constitutes a breach of its obligations under Article VI of the NPT.  The Peace Party regrets that there is no explanation of how the government believes that its plan is consistent with its treaty obligation to make progress towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Peace Party would support a positive contribution to the NPT Review Conference in August; and
  • would never support plans for new high-tech weapons programmes, utilising artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, offensive cyber capabilities, and the further militarisation of space but would support approaches involving threat reduction, disarmament and co-operative solutions.

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