The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been challenged over his allegedly inconsistent remarks about nuclear weapons. He has applauded the agreement of the US and Russian governments to reduce their nuclear arsenals but has insisted he will press ahead with the renewal of the UK's nuclear weapons system, Trident.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has urged him to ensure that “pursuit of Trident replacement doesn't end up damaging the chances of a multilateral deal”.
Brown's comments in favour of multilateral nuclear disarmament followed an agreement on Monday between US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev. They each plan to cut their nuclear warheads to below 1,700 within seven years, a reduction of about a third.
However, the UK's government's already controversial policy on Trident attracted further criticism last week when ministers made clear that it would not be considered within the forthcoming Defence Review. The renewal of Trident is already opposed by a large number of churches, other faith groups, charities, NGOs and trades unions.
"These next twelve months could be a real turning point for disarmament and non-proliferation, with Obama's Washington summit in March and the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference a month later” said CND's chair Kate Hudson.
“In this context it seems perverse that the Government has specifically excluded Trident from its upcoming Defence Review” she added.
The government has been criticised by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and by over 160 MPs of various parties for timing the next stage of decision-making on Trident renewal for September, when Parliament will be in recess and unable to scrutinise the process. Some suggest the government is frightened of allowing too much public examination of Trident renewal, which is expected to cost £76 billion.
“We don't need it, we can't afford it and we can contribute better to a more peaceful world by scrapping it now” said Hudson.