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The future of the British bomb
by John Ainslie
Coordinator of Scottish CND

 

The purpose of the Report is to contribute to a comprehensive debate on the future of British nuclear weapons. The intention is to identify and clarify key issues from a perspective of opposition to the bomb. The Report brings together technical information on Trident and nuclear planning in order to understand the current situation.There is a two-page summary of the essay which runs to 36 pages and there are eleven annexes for which there is another two-page summary. The annexes, plus a page of abbreviations and a page of sources, account for the pages from page 37 to the end.
“A decision on the future of British nuclear weapons will be made before 2010. The last parallel to this situation was in the late 70s. This new opportunity to make progress towards disarmament should not be missed. A full and open debate is essential.” That is the opening paragraph, setting the scene and prompting the question “Why now?” The Defence White Paper of December 2003 stated that . . . a decision on whether to replace Trident . . . was expected during the next Parliament . . . the Defence Minister, John Reid, said in July 2005 that he had not yet begun to consider the issue. In September 2005 he was reported as opening the debate.

So John Ainslie’s Report is available at the right time for us to consider the issues which he has set out. Study of the Report will

equip readers with up-to-date knowledge of all aspects of the nuclear weapon and related issues which John has been studying since he was a student at Keele University. His book is full of information and is an essential source for activists who want to engage in the debate and in promotong opposition to nuclear weapons. That there are people in positions of influence outwith the anti-nuclear movement who welcome the opportunity of debating defence options is indicated by the following quotation from the Introduction:
“Opening a conference on the future of strategic deterrence for the UK in July 2005, Rear Admiral Richard Cobbolt, Diorector of the Royal United Services Institute said ‘ Momentous decisions of this kind should not be made behind closed doors’ The issue is significant, not only in defence

terms, but also because of its financial, diplomatic and moral implications [to which I would add legal and political implications]. There should be break from past practice, a meaningful consultation, and proper parliamentary scrutiny.”

In the introduction, there are references to significant American opinions in the past which have been in favour of the UK giving up its nuclear weapons. Similar views would certainly be welcomed today by the anti-nuclear movement.

Billy Wolfe

‘The Future of the British Bomb’
published by the WMD Awareness Programme, 63A Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3BJ, www.comeclean.org.uk; supported by fifteen peace and anti-nuclear organisations; printed by Clydeside Press, Glasgow. 119 A4 pages. The Report is available free from Scottish CND - donations welcome!

 

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