The British Section of Pax Christi has issued a statement setting out seven concrete steps which it is presenting to the UK Government to avert a war with Iran. Any talk of a pre-emptive attack, they say, must be challenged as illegal and immoral.
While recognising the need to face the unresolved issue of Iran's civilian nuclear programme, to which it is entitled, and the fears that this will develop into a nuclear weapons programme, the statement urges the British government to lead by best example. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Britain has promised to eliminate its own nuclear weapons.
Pax Christi also urges the government to cease preparation of a new generation of nuclear weapons to follow Trident - a clear breach of Britain's NPT commitment; to show the transparency it seeks in Iran with regard to allowing international inspections of its own nuclear plants and facilities; to call on Israel to officially admit to having a nuclear arsenal and to work to demilitarise the region through a sustained programme of conventional and nuclear disarmament and in particular to create a Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East.
If taken, says Pax Christi, these steps could contribute to establishing common regional structures that ensure the security needs of all states to build a common sustainable security.
The full statement:
A war with Iran, to which a military attack would inevitably lead, would be a disaster for the whole world and any talk of a pre-emptive attack must be challenged as illegal and immoral.
We must face the unresolved issue of Irans civilian nuclear programme, to which it is entitled, and the fears that this will develop into a nuclear weapons programme, which would violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran has not, unlike North Korea, withdrawn from this Treaty. But this is not an issue to be judged on its own.
Signatories to that Treaty, of which Britain is one, promised to eliminate their own nuclear weapons. Further, in 1996 the International Court of Justice ruled that there is an obligation on nuclear weapon states* to negotiate the abolition of nuclear weapons and to bring such negotiations to a successful conclusion.
In solidarity with the people of Iran and all peoples potentially threatened by nuclear weapons through accident, misunderstandings or deliberate use, we suggest the following as a way forward.
That the British government lead by the best example by:
- ceasing its preparation of a new generation of nuclear weapons. Far from negotiating elimination of these weapons Britain is planning to build yet another generation of nuclear weapons to follow Trident, at a cost of billions of pounds which would be far better spent on the real needs of our people.
- showing the transparency it seeks in Iran with regard to allowing international inspections of our own nuclear plants and facilities.
- lifting sanctions on Iran when we see signs of progress.
- employing every diplomatic means both nationally and through the EU and the UN to make the possession of nuclear weapons by any state illegal.
- calling on Israel to officially admit to having a nuclear arsenal, the existence of which is beyond any doubt.
- working to demilitarise the region through a sustained programme of conventional and nuclear disarmament and in particular to create a Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East. This is to be discussed at the forthcoming UN Middle East Nuclear Free Zone conference which all countries should support. Such a Zone will mean that nuclear-armed ships from other states do not patrol in the Middle East area.