Concluding report of Trident Commission 'a rehash of cold war thinking'

By staff writers
1 Jul 2014

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) today (1 July) published a response to the Concluding Report of the Trident Commission, entitled Against the Tide,saying the Commission "has produced a rehash of Cold War thinking which fails to acknowledge that the world has moved on."

The Trident Commission, an independent, cross-party group of former ministers, diplomats and generals, had argued that it is in the UK's national interest to keep the Trident nuclear weapons system.

The Commission called on the UK to consider what it could do to further the cause of nuclear disarmament and to discourage proliferation.

While acknowledging the steps that had been taken since the end of the Cold War, it said the UK could consider a further reduction in missile and warhead numbers, enhanced verification procedures and commitments to control or decrease stocks of fissile materials.

"The commission would recommend that the Ministry of Defence study the steps down the nuclear ladder more thoroughly to give greater confidence to the international community that we are considering such steps seriously in preparation for multilateral disarmament negotiations," it said.

Against the Tide says the Commission has "done little to challenge the pro-Trident mindset which dominates government and the leadership of the main political parties."

The report makes the case for cancelling the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system, describing it as "pragmatic and realistic."

The case for cancelling the Trident replacement programme is set out under a number of themes, including security, humanitarian considerations, cost and legal obligations.

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND said: "The Trident Commission’s conclusion that the UK should retain and deploy a nuclear arsenal demonstrates Westminster's pro-Trident mindset and repeats the failings of the Liberal Democrats' Trident Alternatives Review, the Coalition's Strategic Defence and Security Review and the previous Labour Government's White Paper, all of which failed to articulate a convincing case for retaining a nuclear weapons capability.

"In contrast to proposals in the Trident Commission, only imaginative new steps can prevent us from further isolating ourselves from the rest of the world and potentially jeopardising the future of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"Cancelling the programme to replace Trident nuclear weapons is a pragmatic and realistic alternative. Against the Tide makes this clear."

A final decision on whether to renew Trident will be taken in 2016. The decision has been put back until after the 2015 elections, following disagreements between Conservatives and Liberal Democrat coalition partners. David Cameron supports a like-for-like renewal of the UK's existing submarine-based ballistic missile system, but the Liberal Democrats say the number of submarines could be reduced from four to three to save money.

Vernon Coaker, the Shadow Defence Secretary, has welcomed the commission's recommendation that it is in the UK's national interest to retain a nuclear deterrent.

The SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said the only way Scotland could get rid of Trident was to vote 'Yes' in the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September.

He said the SNP had not been involved in the cross-party talks. "We would certainly not have agreed to the conclusion of the commission", he said.

* Against the Tide can be found here: http://cnduk.org/information/briefings/trident-briefings/item/1946-again...

* Read the Trident Commission Concluding Report here: http://www.basicint.org/sites/default/files/trident_commission_finalrepo...

[Ekk/4]

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.