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World News

Summit Marks CND's 50th Anniversary

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Bianca Jagger was one of the speakers when anti-nuclear activists from across the world gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. At a two-day Global Summit event in London's City Hall, CND said world opinion increasingly recognised that nuclear weapons were a global security problem that could only be solved through disarmament.

Kate Hudson, chairwoman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "As part of the events marking the 50th anniversary of CND, the Global Summit will bring together delegates from across the globe with the aim of laying the groundwork towards negotiating a global ban on these terrible weapons."

Other events being planned by CND include a protest at the Aldermaston Weapons Establishment on Easter Monday on the 50th anniversary of the first peace march to the site.

Nuclear Club Should be Abolished - George Shultz

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The mastermind of the US Cold War policies, former US Secretary of State George Shultz says he believes nuclear weapons are 'immoral'.

''They are all wrong,'' 87-year-old George Shultz, architect of the Ronald Reagan administration's foreign policy, said.

''These weapons come to be unusable by civilized people and with the spread of nuclear weapons and the threat of them falling into the hands of terrorists, I think the concept of deterrence deteriorates.''

Shultz believes the best option is to ''change the scene so that having a nuclear weapon is a problem for countries, not a boon to them...the nuclear club should be abolished and anybody who has a nuclear weapon is the enemy of mankind, so let's get rid of them.''

 

Bruce Kent on CND's 50th Anniversary

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When CND launched with a mass meeting in Central Hall Westminster on the 17th February 1958 it was with the backing of some prominent British figures.

In fact CND grew out of discussions within the pages of the New Statesman magazine. Among early supporters were novelist J B Priestly, politician and journalist Michael Foot, historian AJP Taylor and Canon Collins - then Dean of PaulÂ’s Cathedral.

The first of the Aldermaston marches took place at Easter 1958. In subsequent years those marches went not to Aldermaston but from the nuclear bomb factory to central London, until they came to ended in the late 1970s.

The new movement touched a national chord and rapidly grew, with branches all around the country. The campaign was largely  focused on the Labour Party. That was because CND's leadership and many of its supporters believed if Labour could be persuaded to give up aspirations for a British nuclear bomb, then this example would set in motion a worldwide shift in attitude about nuclear weapons. Global abolition was the goal with a unilateral British example showing the way to the two superpowers.

Bush wants More Cash for Nukes

While much of the world is working toward nuclear disarmament, the Bush Administration has 
asked Congress to fund the first new U.S. nuclear weapons in two decades and requested
additional funding to build a new nuclear bomb making plant.
The budget makes military spending and the Iraq war its focus, proposing a 7.5 per cent increase
for the Pentagon. Military expenditure will top $515bn – plus $70bn more for the conflicts in
Iraq and Afghanistan. The President's Annual Budget requested $10 million for the Reliable
Replacement Warhead (RRW) program and $100 million to begin construction on a new plutonium pit
facility.

"This administration just doesn't seem to get the message. Congress and the people of this country do not want these new weapons," said Devin Helfrich, a lobbyist on nuclear disarmament for the Friends Committee on National Legislation,

UK Offers to Host Disarmament Conference

The UK Government has offered to host a conference of all five recognized nuclear weapon states to address the difficult technical challenges of verifying nuclear disarmament.

British Defence Secretary of State Des Browne made the offer at a speech to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva..

"For the first time, I am proposing to host a conference for technical experts from all five recognized nuclear states, to develop technologies for nuclear disarmament," Des Browne said.

"At the center of this offer are the skills and expertise of UK(United Kingdom) scientists at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Those skills will form the basis of pioneering technical research into nuclear disarmament - to become a 'nuclear disarmament laboratory'," he said.

NATO want First Strike Nuclear Option

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical Manifesto for a new Natoby five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

The Manifesto has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato Summit in Bucharest in April.

UK Cabinet Split Over Defence Cuts

Proposals to slice up to £15bn from the defence budget over the next decade have been drawn up by the Treasury, provoking bitter rows within Whitehall and the Cabinet at a time when the military are under enormous pressure to meet commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rift has caused the Ministry of Defence to postpone publication of the latest 10-year industrial strategy because Ministers admit current negotiations are ongoing and no agreement has been reached.

Though overall spending on defence is due to rise from £34.1bn next year to £36.9bn in 2010, prior commitments to Trident and two new aircraft carriers mean deep cuts are being drawn up in other areas between now and 2017.

Iran Threat Downgraded

In a blow to Bush administration hawks demanding military strikes on Iran, a US intelligence report reveals that Tehran's secret nuclear weapons programme was shut down four years ago.

The finding concluded: "We do not know whether [Iran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons." That is in sharp contrast to an intelligence report two years ago that stated Iran was "determined to develop nuclear weapons".

The report was meant to be released last Spring but was delayed to avoid the mistakes of a similar exercise on Iraq in 2002 which exaggerated Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and cleared the way for the US-led invasion.

The report said Iran was not a rogue regime, but a rational country where " decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs."

US Funding for FALCON Project

An United States  House-Senate Conference Report about a $459 million defense budget revealed that $100 million is to be given for the development of a "prompt global strike" program capable of launching a precision-guided warhead that can be detonated at any point in the world two hours after deployment.

The program FALCON, which stands for Force Application and Launch from CONSUS, was described by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency intelligence reporter Walter Pincus as "a reusable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle capable of delivering 12,000 pounds of payload at a distance of 9,000 nautical miles from [the continental United States] in less than two hours."

American and Russian Citizens Endorse NNPT

An Opinion Poll  conducted by University of Maryland has found that  73 per cent of Americans and 63 per cent of Russians endorse the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that calls for elimination of nuclear weapons, and 79 per cent and 66 percent of them want their respective governments to do more to pursue this objective.

"Current US security policies do not reflect underlying public opinion,"  John Steinbruner, Director of Centre for International Security Studies at Maryland said

"In contrast to the growing tension between their (US and Russian) governments, publics in the US and Russia show enthusiasm for dramatic cooperative steps to reduce the nuclear threat," Steven Kull, Director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, adds.