Church leaders defy Tony Blair on nuclear arms and Trident

Church leaders defy Tony Blair on nuclear arms and Trident

By staff writers
5 Dec 2006

Church leaders defy Tony Blair on nuclear arms and Trident

-05/12/06

On the day that UK Prime Minister Blair declared that Britain could not afford to be without weapons on mass destruction, and that nuclear arms constitute a "final insurance policy", leading church leaders urged him to think again.

All the nation's leading churches and Christian organisations, together with fugures from other religious communities and a great number of humanists and non-aligned disarmament campaigners have lined up to oppose replacement of the Trident nuclear submarine system - which Mr Blair, while signallimng a debate, has thrown his full political weight behind.

They say that far from making the country safer, the nuclear weapons option encourages proliferation and adds to the threat of conflict and terror. But as with Iraq, the PM has indicated that he is not listening to alternative strategies at the moment.

However, leaders of the Baptist, United Reformed and Methodist denominations believe that Mr Blair should think again. And they are saying that their appeals for common sense to previal will go on.

The three churches have issued the following statement:

"Our churches urge the British Government to work tirelessly to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction. The end of the Cold War gave us hope that this aim is achievable. Replacing Trident would send the wrong message to aspiring nuclear powers. Each Trident warhead is capable of delivering destruction several times that of the Hiroshima bomb, therefore the proposed reduction in the number of warheads is largely academic."

They add: "Replacing Trident with a new system with a potential lifespan to 2050 flies in the face of commitments that the UK has made under the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

The joint appeal has been made and signed by the Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain; Dudley Coates, Vice-President of the Methodist Church; and the Rev Elizabeth Caswell, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church.

Catholic and Anglican bishops have also voiced strong opposition to Trident replacement.

On the day that UK Prime Minister Blair declared that Britain could not afford to be without weapons on mass destruction, and that nuclear arms constitute a "final insurance policy", leading church leaders urged him to think again.

All the nation's leading churches and Christian organisations, together with figures from other religious communities and a great number of humanists and non-aligned disarmament campaigners have lined up to oppose replacement of the Trident nuclear submarine system - which Mr Blair, while signallimng a debate, has thrown his full political weight behind.

They say that far from making the country safer, the nuclear weapons option encourages proliferation and adds to the threat of conflict and terror. But as with Iraq, the PM has indicated that he is not listening to alternative strategies at the moment.

However, leaders of the Baptist, United Reformed and Methodist denominations believe that Mr Blair should think again. And they are saying that their appeals for common sense to previal will go on.

The three churches have issued the following statement:

"Our churches urge the British Government to work tirelessly to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction. The end of the Cold War gave us hope that this aim is achievable. Replacing Trident would send the wrong message to aspiring nuclear powers. Each Trident warhead is capable of delivering destruction several times that of the Hiroshima bomb, therefore the proposed reduction in the number of warheads is largely academic."

They add: "Replacing Trident with a new system with a potential lifespan to 2050 flies in the face of commitments that the UK has made under the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

The joint appeal has been made and signed by the Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain; Dudley Coates, Vice-President of the Methodist Church; and the Rev Elizabeth Caswell, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church.

Catholic and Anglican bishops have also voiced strong opposition to Trident replacement.

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