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Joint Ministerial Statement on Test Ban Treaty

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1. We, the Foreign Ministers who have issued this statement, reaffirm our strong support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would rid the world of nuclear weapons test explosions and would contribute to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

 

2. In this year marking the 12th anniversary of the Treaty's opening for signature, we emphasize that the CTBT is a major instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The Treaty was an integral part of the 1995 agreements by the States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allowing the indefinite extension of the Treaty. The early entry into force of the CTBT was recognized at the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT as a practical step to achieving NPT nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives, and has also been reaffirmed as being of central importance by the UN General Assembly.

 

3. We recall the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear -Test-Ban Treaty, that adopted in September 2007 a declaration by consensus outlining measures consistent with international law to encourage further signature and ratification of the Treaty.

Israeli Nuclear Weapons Plant Revealed

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The Sunday Times revealed on 5 October 1986 that an Israeli factory beneath the Negev desert is manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons for atomic bombs -

Hidden beneath the Negev desert, the factory has been producing atomic warheads for the past 20 years. Now it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons, with yields big enough to destroy entire cities, the Report says.

Information about Israel's capacity to manufacture the bomb comes from the testimony of a former Dimona employee, nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu.

Vanunu's testimony and pictures, confirm that Israel has the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of nuclear warheads.

Israel has possessed its secret weapons factory for more than two decades, and its nuclear facility is equipped with French plutonium extracting technology, which transformed Dimona from a research establishment to a bomb production facility.

Nuclear States Pay Lip Service to Disarmament

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Britain and the rest of the world's nuclear powers are paying "lip service" to the principle of disarmament without putting any efforts into achieving it. Nuclear-armed states do not have a single official whose sole job is devoted to the issue of verifying the decommission of nuclear weapons, a Report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said.

It calls for a "high-level unofficial panel" made up of civilian experts and officials to come up with solutions to the "myriad challenges" of disarmament.

The report, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, says: "Representatives of nuclear-weapons states pay lip service to the principle of nuclear disarmament, but none of these states has an employee, let alone an inter-agency group, tasked full-time with figuring out what would be required to verifiably decommission all its nuclear weapons."

Its authors argue for disarmament to be successful, states must have a "shared perception" of the challenges.

NATO Nuclear Weapons: Power Without Purpose

 Europe is heavily armed with nuclear weapons. Both Britain and France possess their own nuclear forces and the United States has a long history of keeping nuclear weapons on European soil. BritainÂ’s nuclear force is estimated at under 200 weapons, with approximately 150 deployed on four Vanguard submarines and the remainder kept in reserve. France is thought to have approximately 350 nuclear weapons in its Force de frappe (strike force). The US keeps some 200-350 nuclear weapons in six countries: Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy, Turkey and the UK. Recent unconfirmed reports indicate that the US has pulled its nuclear weapons out of the UK. If this is correct, approximately 240 US nuclear weapons remain in five European countries.

On the NATO website, it states, “NATO has radically reduced its reliance on nuclear forces. Their role is now more fundamentally political, and they are no longer directed towards a specific threat.” This is a rather enigmatic statement, leaving one to ponder how nuclear weapons are used in a “fundamentally political” role. The NATO website adds, “NATO's reduced reliance on nuclear forces has been manifested in a dramatic reduction in the number of weapons systems and storage facilities. NATO has also ended the practice of maintaining standing peacetime nuclear contingency plans and as a result, NATO's nuclear forces no longer target any country.”

No Non-Proliferation without De-Proliferation

The proliferation of nuclear weapons is the single biggest threat facing the world today, according to former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating. Mr Keating, who led the government from 1991 to 1996, said the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into in 1970 was on the verge of collapse.

Speaking to a sold-out crowd at the Melbourne Writers' Festival, Mr Keating called on the international community to push for a new order for world peace. He said the 20th Century order had been one of violence, with major powers holding onto nuclear weapons.

"Nuclear weapon proliferation is the single most immediate threat hanging over the world today," Mr Keating said.

He said the United States, China, France, Britain and Russia - all signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty - are not only not ridding themselves of nuclear weapons, but developing new ones.

He cited Tony Blair's Trident submarine program announced in 2006 and said the Bush administration had "turned its hand to new bunker-busting nuclear weapons designed to attack underground facilities."

CND Warning on NATO Expansion

CND has warned that the development of the US Missile Defence in central Europe and the expansion of NATO are plunging Europe into a new Cold War.

 

CND condemned Foreign Secretary David Miliband for fuelling international tensions, on the same day that the US and Poland sign a deal on US Missile Defence, by announcing Georgia had been given a ‘route map to membership’.

 

Support for US Missile Defence puts Britain at greater risk of military attack rather than providing greater security, with US bases in Yorkshire potentially on the front line of any future wars involving the US. Moscow has already announced that it will re-target its missiles on Europe if missile defence goes ahead.

 

The Foreign SecretaryÂ’s stated commitment to Georgian membership of NATO, ratchets up the new Cold War danger, siding with the US in escalating tensions with Russia. Rather than expanding NATO, CND advocates the extension of the influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe to develop a strategic approach to European security, independent of White House dominance.

 

Kate Hudson, CND Chair, said ‘The United States, with UK support, seems hell bent on escalating tensions with Russia and is leading us into a new Cold War. The agreement to place interceptor missiles in Poland, together with its drive to expand NATO into Georgia and the Ukraine, is enormously provocative and puts British and other European citizens at greater risk. It is not providing us with greater security. Europe is being used as a pawn in the global military strategy of the United States – our Government should be championing dialogue and diplomacy rather than missile systems and nuclear-armed military alliances.

Economist Article on Disarmament

BRITAIN as a “disarmament laboratory”? Tell that one to veterans of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Earlier this year they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Easter protest march to Aldermaston, home of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) where research and design work continues on Britain’s Trident-based nuclear warheads. Yet AWE has lately been turning its nuclear skills to a rather different purpose: finding solutions to some of the many difficulties that disarmament would pose if it ever turned from slogan to reality.

To CNDÂ’s regret, and the annoyance of the Scottish Nationalists who want to eject the submarines that carry the countryÂ’s nuclear-tipped Trident missiles from their Faslane base on the Clyde, Britain is not about to disarm unilaterally. It remains one of the five officially recognised nuclear powers, alongside America, China, France and Russia. Over the protests of its own left-wingers, last year the Labour government persuaded Parliament to replace the deterrentÂ’s ageing submarines; legislators will probably have to vote before long on replacing the missiles and warheads too

The “disarmament laboratory” notion was floated last year by Margaret Beckett, Foreign Secretary at the time and a noted nuclear sceptic. A sop to Labour’s left after the Trident decision? Or a cynical ploy, before the 2010 review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to blunt criticism that Britain is not doing enough to honour its treaty pledge to work towards nuclear disarmament? Away from the politics of it all, defence officials and AWE have a more intriguing story to tell.

UK Should Support Nuclear Weapons Convention

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George Monbiot presents a strong analysis of the nuclear hypocrisy of many governments, our own included (Comment, July 29), but it is now vital that Britain plays a positive role in ensuring real progress is made towards multilateral disarmament. The most technically thorough and widely supported plan is embodied in the draft nuclear weapons convention, currently lodged at the UN. This provides for verifiable parallel reductions in stockpiles and a thorough inspections regime. The fact that three nuclear nations, China, India and Pakistan, are among the 127 states that support immediate negotiations on this will surprise many. But this shows the very strong diplomatic support the draft treaty has already gathered. The UK should make clear its support for this initiative, rather than maintaining the increasingly hazardous status quo.

Kate Hudson, Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Letter to the Guardian 

UK's NPT Obligations

leftThe Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, writes in his letter  that, if all states “live up to both the letter and the spirit of the obligations” under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) “the vision can become a reality”.

I agree. But what is the United KingdomÂ’s record of living up to its own NPT obligations, to which it signed up 40 years ago this month, after protracted negotiations at the UN?

Article VI of the NPT requires all signatories to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date”.

Yet, as was confirmed in a written reply a year ago by the Defence Secretary, Des Browne (Hansard, 16 May 2007, column 620w), not one UK nuclear weapon or warhead has been withdrawn from operational service as a result of multilateral disarmament negotiations in the 40 years of the NPT. Moreover, at present none of BritainÂ’s nuclear arsenal features in any nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Rosyth Waste to be Exported to Sweden

A plan to export radioactive waste from old nuclear submarines in Scotland to Sweden is coming under fire from local authorities worried about accidents and pollution. The naval dockyard at Rosyth in Fife has applied for permission to ship metal contaminated with radioactivity to a smelter near Nyköping in Sweden, run by the nuclear waste company Studsvik.

The plan is for the metal, from the decommissioning of seven defunct submarines laid up at Rosyth, to be melted, decontaminated and reused. The contaminated slag will then be sent back to Rosyth to be disposed of at the low-level radioactive waste dump at Drigg, near Sellafield in Cumbria.

The plan has been approved by the Government's green watchdog, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), and is now with Scottish ministers for a decision. But councils are angry that their concerns about the risks have been ignored.

"We find it inexplicable that Sepa should be minded to approve these shipments when options are available in the UK to manage UK waste," said Aberdeenshire councillor, Joanna Strathdee, the UK chairwoman of Kimo, a group of more than 110 local authorities from around the North and Baltic seas.