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Doublespeak on nuclear proliferation

Bill Kidd MSP attended the 2008 Preparatory Committee for
the Non Proliferation Treaty review conference in 2010 on
behalf of Scottish CND

I have to admit that I was unprepared for the experience of attending the NPT Preparatory Committee in the United Nations building in Geneva in April of this year. Certainly you can have varying degrees of knowledge regarding Trident, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation but to sit in the UN Assembly Hall at the heart of the debates by representatives from around the world sharpens your perspective with regards the genuine opposition to nukes by so many nations and, sadly also, your awareness of the doublespeak of those who possess these weapons of mass destruction. The ‘nuclear club’ made speeches touting their moral superiority over those ‘aspirant’ nations who claim to want to develop civil nuclear technology for the purposes of producing electricity whilst at least their question to the club has a form of logic to it, “Why should you be trusted to have nuclear when we aren’t?” Iran and Syria had a go at the USA who had a go back and the EU did a fair impression of holding the jackets. However as a delegate for SCND my main purpose was to speak at an NGO meeting sponsored by Mayors for Peace to give a Scottish perspective on nuclear weapons and where we sit on the international stage; at once on the periphery and yet, with Trident on the Clyde, right at the heart of the issue.



Also on the platform, as we spoke to around a couple of hundred NGO delegates, was the Mayor of Hiroshima, the Ambassador of Costa Rica, a Liberal MP from Belgium and Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister of France. We all expressed our varying support for non-proliferation – the Mayor of Hiroshima and the Belgian MP, himself a former town mayor, spoke of their proposals for the further development of nuclearfree zones across the World; the Costa Rican Ambassador of her country’s step-by-step programme to eventual abolition of nuclear weapons; M. Rocard about France’s reduction in numbers of missiles but determination to use those it has for the purposes of negotiation at future NPT talks; myself of the UK arsenal of 160 operational nuclear weapons based just 35 miles from our largest city despite the overwhelming opposition to these by the people, civic society and our Parliament following last years vote.


I also attended two receptions at which I conversed with many academics, scientists, lawyers and politicians almost all of whom had a considerable level of knowledge of the situation in Scotland, both in terms of Faslane and of the political circumstances which pertain here. The topic of the ‘Working Group on Scotland without Nuclear Weapons’ was of particular relevance to those from Mayors for Peace who are promoting nuclear-free zones. Further there were delegates who were against the proliferation of civil nuclear programmes, either in those countries which presently have these or to those who wish them, due to both environmental concerns and the continuing dangers of enrichment of nuclear fuels to a weapons grade standard. There were others too, from Physicians for Peace and Scientists for Peace making a stand against the nuclear apologists.


Costa Rica and Malaysia have produced a step-by-step programme for nuclear disarmament, the New Agenda Coalition have faltered since their good work at the 2000 Review but are heading back towards the right track again and seven NATO states have publicly given strong backing to those commitments of 2000, so there are positive signs after the failures of 2005. Scotland needs to make contacts and work with others of like-mind.


Overall it was an honour to have represented the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as a delegate to PrepCom 2008 as the issues were discussed in readiness for the full Review Conference in 2010. I was very pleased to emphasise the long and honourable track-record of SCND both within Scotland and internationally and to hopefully have made some of the kind of contacts which can help the organisation to achieve an even greater impact in the campaign to eradicate these weapons from our soil and that of all nations across the World.


Bill Kidd MSP