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Joint Ministerial Statement on Test Ban Treaty


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


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


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.

Give Holyrood power to ban Trident



The Commission on Scottish Devolution, chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman, is under pressure
to consider giving the Scottish Parliament the power to prohibit Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Although Holyrood has voted against the UK Government's plans to replace Trident it's
powers are limited.
A change to one line in the Scotland Act may be all that would be needed to allow the 
Scottish Parliament to prohibit the deployment of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Scotland.
This issue was raised in a number of written submissions to the Calman Commission and the
proposal has also been supported by Lord Murray, a former Lord Advocate.

MOD Complacent On Submarine Safety


The Ministry of Defence was complacent about the safety of an oxygen tank which was involved in a fatal accident on a submarine, a report has said.

The Board of Inquiry investigation followed the death of two submariners after an explosion onboard HMS Tireless in March 2007. It found the MoD's risk assessment of the tanks was "flawed".

Anthony Huntrod, 20, from Sunderland and Paul McCann, 32, from Halesowen, West Midlands, died when a generator blew up on Devonport-based HMS Tireless while it was under the Arctic ice off Alaska.

A report published in June concluded the blast was caused by a faulty self-contained oxygen container - which creates oxygen through a chemical reaction and is used in an emergency - during a routine drill. According to the Inquiry, the blast was probably caused by a cylinder cracking after it became contaminated with oil.

Astute Submarine Programme Under Review

leftBAE Systems has started a review of its troubled Astute nuclear submarine programme after discovering problems that could further delay the Royal Navy taking charge of the first vessel. The £3.8bn project to design and build the first three attack submarines has for years been overshadowed by rising costs and was the subject of a huge rift between BAE and the Ministry of Defence  But the two sides have presented a united front , saying that they had launched a review "to determine how best to minimise the impact on the programme. A formal announcement will be made at the appropriate time."

It is understood the difficulties relate to a series of issues, including electrical faults and delays getting components. But BAE, which is constructing the vessels at Barrow-in-Furness, has also faced severe workforce skill shortages.

The company, Europe's largest defence business, was "confident" that the first Astute would meet its timetable of 2009, but admitted there was no certainty of this until the review was complete.

Lib Dem policy on Trident


The Liberal Democrat Party will discuss its position on nuclear weapons as part of a debate on a new security strategy at their annual conference in Bournemouth on Saturday 15 September.  The proposal is that the UK should take advantage of the 2010 Non Proliferation Treaty review to make progress towards nuclear disarmament. 

The motion to the Conference says that the UK should fullfill its obligation to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament by halving the number of Trident warheads deployed at sea and

"Announcing its willingness to renounce the Trident system and any successor by agreement at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty review".


Plaid Cymru Boycott Submarine

Plaid Cymru councillors have rejected an invitation to visit Llanelli's adopted naval submarine in a protest against nuclear arms.

Members of the town council declined to board HMS Trenchant, the nuclear submarine which has been affiliated to the town since the days of the borough council. They made the stand on grounds it sanctions a policy to which they are fundamentally opposed.

Councillor Dyfrig Thomas said accepting the invitation would be nothing more than an endorsement of national hypocrisy.

"We are asking nations around the world not to indulge in nuclear arms, but the UK is quite happy to do so itself," he said.

"This is not a defensive effort. Its missiles can target up to 1,000 miles, and it would kill innocent women and children if it was used. "No representatives of Plaid Cymru will be attending."

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.”

Charles Clarke's New Statesman Article

We should recognise that Tony Blair was an outstanding Labour prime minister who has now departed the British political scene and has no future part to play. His legacy, on the basis of what we inherited in 1997, is historically important, but it does not define the way forward from 2008 onwards. It is worth summarising his approach to government.

In international affairs, Blair stood for a liberal interventionist strategy in our increasingly interdependent world. This attracted fierce criticism in relation to Iraq, but general support on the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. It led him to work with the power of the United States rather than join the anti-American claque, even when George W Bush demonstrated crippling incompetence or opposed British policy. And in the European Union, Blair's good intentions turned to dust, so that Britain is now more remote from the centre of European power than ever.

Liberal interventionism must be underpinned by military force, but its moral authority was undermined by the glacial progress in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the ill-considered determination to renew Trident. The rise of terrorist atrocities, including London in 2005, identified Tony Blair with tough efforts to strengthen security, sometimes at a perceived cost to liberty. In some circles, this damaged his reputation, despite the series of progressive constitutional reforms that modernised Britain.