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UK dragged kicking and screaming to disarmament conference

The Sunday Herald reports that the UK government is attending an important disarmament conference, following pressure from the Scottish Government. The third conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons (HINW) takes place in Vienna on 8-9 December.

Over this weekend disarmament campaigners from around the world are meeting in the same city for the ICAN Civil Society Forum in advance of the HINW conference.

At two earlier meetings nations which do not have nuclear weapons have made significant progress in identifying the global risks from nuclear arms and establishing that emergency services and aid agencies would be completely unable to respond. Building on this they have began to discuss practical ways to eliminate these Weapons of Mass Destruction.  The UK boycotted the first two meetings, even though 146 other nations attended. In February the UK government said that they would not be going to the Vienna meeting because "many supporters of the conference appear to have a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting nuclear weapons outright as their ultimate goal."  This statement reveals their underlying opposition to eliminating nuclear weapons, not just in Britain, but worldwide.

The Scottish Government put pressure on the UK to attend and offered to send a minister to the meeting, as Scotland hosts the entire arsenal of operational British nuclear weapons.  CND supporters have also been lobbying the UK government to take part. A few days before the conference, Philip Hammond announced that Britain's ambassador to Austria would be taking part, on behalf of the UK.

Bill Kidd MSP said "What has been particularly disappointing is the fact that a sustained pressure campaign was required before the UK agreed to even send a delegation to this conference. In the week where we learned that 60% of Westminster's cuts are still to be inflicted, there is surely no justification for wasting billions on nuclear weapons."

Today (Sunday 7 December) Bill Kidd is reading out a statement from Scottish First Minster, Nicola Sturgeon to the ICAN gathering of disarmament campaigners in Vienna. This says "In votes taken in the last and present Scottish Parliaments there has been a clear opposition to the continuance and replacement of Trident. Civic society in Scotland is overwhelmingly against the stationing of nuclear weapons systems on our land or waters".

There are several delegates from Scotland attending the events in Vienna including Veronika Tudhope (Vice Chair, Scottish CND) and Flavia Tudoreanu (Assistant Coordinator, Scottish CND). 

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