Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Saying No to Trident

This is a copy of an article I recently sent to the South Edinburgh Echo

Look around South Edinburgh. Look at all the things that need improving here.
Think what we could do if we had the money to build new Council housing affordable to everyone, for all the necessary improvements to our local NHS, for our schools, our social services and leisure facilities, for free travel on the buses for everyone, for more community workers and community policemen, and all available today. It would be great wouldn’t it? It would dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone in South Edinburgh.

Once you’ve thought about that, think about this. Tens of billions of pounds, which we could spend on all these areas of our lives, across Britain, Tony Blair intends to spend instead on a second generation of nuclear missiles.

And across Britain people are pressing Westminster not to vote for a second generation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. And I am on their side.
To me Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine fleet, part of our ‘WMD’s, as well as being lethal to humankind are also immoral and illegal. For all their sophistication theses missiles are incapable of distinguishing between enemy soldiers on the one hand and an innocent civilian population on the other. And that makes them illegal under International law [see International Court of Justice opinion 8 July 1996].

Further international obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty which Britain has signed demands the 8 nuclear weapons holding countries [USA, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the UK *] stop developing new weapons and all other countries in the world not to start to develop any.
Britain’s plans to build a second generation of missiles therefore make a mockery of our international non proliferation treaty obligations.

The sight of Labour politicians desperately trying to make the case for Trident in recent weeks is a remarkable spectacle. Almost to a man and woman they argued against nuclear weapons when they wanted to get elected. Jack McConnell, David Hamilton, Nigel Griffiths all nuclear disarmers once but now warmongers and militarists.
‘Trident provides a deterrent in an uncertain world’ they now repeat ad nauseam – when was the world anything other than uncertain- ‘so we need these weapons to protect our security and ‘Britain’s vital interests’.
But hold on, who is it that is threatening to invade us or breach our sovereignty? If it is Al Quaida then these weapons are useless against them because that enemy cannot be identified geographically and discriminately. And surely the more apt question in the world today is who protects the world from us?
It is hard to find a period in history which compares with this where Britain has such an appalling international reputation after the catastrophic failure of policy in Iraq.
Having gone along with George Bush in a madcap illegal invasion of a sovereign country we have earned pariah status in much of the world. Britain now has an appalling reputation as a warmonger and not a peace loving nation. Britain and US military families continue to pay an awful price for Bush and Blair’s reckless decision to invade and occupy another country, against the wishes of both the international community and the Iraqi people themselves.

Spending £25billion or more on British weapons of mass destruction to further threaten the world with nuclear annihilation will do nothing to calm international anxieties about Britain’s belligerence nor make the world a safer place for any of us.

I believe developing a second generation of nuclear weapons is a betrayal of future generations keen to live in peace with other nations and I urge Nigel Griffiths my Edinburgh South Westminster representative to vote against developing these evil weapons.

[* Although North Korea test fired nuclear missiles late last year it is not considered a nuclear nation as far as the NNPT is concerned]

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