New MPs unite to lobby coalition over nuclear arms

By staff writers
June 2, 2010

In an early show of opposition to Trident replacement, a number of newly-elected MPs from different parties will visit Downing Street today (2 June) to call for government action on nuclear disarmament.

They will hand in a letter that has been produced in response to the outcomes of the recent United Nations conference to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The letter will ask ministers to outline how they will make progress on reaching the objectives of the conference agreement. This will include questions on when and by how much the UK government will further reduce its nuclear warhead stockpile and how it will reduce the circumstances in which nuclear weapons may be used.

The conference's final agreement calls on states owning nuclear weapons to "undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons".

This includes urging them to "accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament". The conference also agreed that these states should "rapidly move towards an overall reduction in the global stockpile of nuclear weapons [and] further diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies".

But Kate Hudson, chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said that the UK government had behaved inconsistently by going along with the non-proliferation agreement while planning to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system. Trident is opposed by a wide range of churches, faith groups, NGOs and trades unions.

Hudson will be joining the MPs at Downing Street. They include Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert, the Scottish National Party's Eilidh Whiteford and the Green Party's Caroline Lucas. The initiative is supported by newly elected Labour MP John Cryer.

Also handing in the letter will be CND Vice-President Rebecca Johnson, who was a Senior Advisor to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), chaired by Hans Blix (2004-2006) and General Hugh Beach.

"The support we've received from newly-elected MPs is a reflection of the strong demand for action from the new government on nuclear disarmament,” said Hudson, “This was demonstrated in the general election, where discussion of nuclear weapons had a higher profile than in any election for decades”.

She urged ministers to explain how they will achieve the reductions outlined in the agreement. She suggested that, “A good first step is to include Trident in the Strategic Defence Review, with the option of No Trident Replacement firmly on the table”. The Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, has so far declined to include Trident in the Review.

The letter will be handed in at 4.00pm, following Prime Minister's Questions.


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