The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) today called on the Liberal Democrats to clarify the details of their coalition agreement with the Conservatives with regard to Trident replacement.
The Liberal Democrats must spell out how they can and will make use of their reported freedom to scrutinise the ongoing replacement process to do so effectively and in the manner that so many of those who voted for them will expect, said CND
Prior to the election, Menzies Campbell's review of Trident replacement for the Liberal Democrats raised a number of alternatives to 'like-for-like' replacement, including no nuclear weapons whatsoever. The party also received significant support for questioning Trident in the leadership debates and election interviews before polling day.
The Liberal Democrats must use their influence to ensure Trident replacement is included in the Strategic Defence Review and that they ensure full scrutiny of the Initial Gate decision, CND said.
Crucially, Liberal Democrat MPs who oppose nuclear weapons altogether must be allowed to speak out, campaigners said.
CND expressed its concern that decisions relating to nuclear weapons will be made primarily by William Hague as Foreign Secretary and Liam Fox as Defence Secretary. While expressing commitment to multilateral disarmament, Hague has highlighted Iran and North Korea to justify the replacement of Trident, in language which campaigners say echoes President Bush.
In the Commons, Fox has stated that opposition to nuclear weapons is an act of "national self-loathing".
Kate Hudson, CND Chair, said: "The Liberal Democrats must clarify the agreements they have reached with the Conservatives on Trident replacement. Many of their voters will be concerned and will want to know whether and how they will continue to scrutinise the process and make a case for non-replacement and disarmament, and how they will impact on William Hague and Liam Fox on these important areas. As a minimum, to facilitate this, Trident replacement must be included in the Strategic Defence Review and full scrutiny of the Initial Gate decision by MPs must be allowed.
"We also hope that more Labour MPs will now be willing to oppose Trident replacement, not only those newly-elected but those who may previously have backed a Labour government on this. As the new government announces its programme of spending cuts that can only harm ordinary people in this country, CND will be continuing to campaign to 'cut Trident'."