New report calls UK Government to account over harmful Nuclear Weapons dependence
A new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, agreed by 122 countries on the 7 July 2017, re-opens questions about Britain’s continued possession of nuclear weapons.
Despite claiming to want a world without nuclear weapons, by boycotting the treaty negotiations, the UK is sidestepping global efforts to achieve multilateral disarmament.
The UK has 120 ready-to-fire nuclear warheads in deployment; with a further 95 in reserve, but the credibility of these weapons for deterrence is crumbling.
Britain has an opportunity to demonstrate its diplomatic prowess and soft power to take a lead on multilateral disarmament and make the world safer – but only if the government is prepared to abandon its reliance on an increasingly redundant and dangerous approach to national security,.
25 July 2017: Medact, a public health charity that inspires the medical community to act on the social, political, ecological and economic determinants of health, today launches a new report calling the UK Government to account for aggressive Nuclear Weapons policies and continued funding of Trident.
The report, “A Safer World: Treating Britain’s harmful dependence on nuclear weapons”, follows swiftly after negotiations on a new international treaty that bans nuclear weapons concluded at the United Nations. The report hails the international significance of the treaty, and argues that the UK should now abandon its possession of nuclear weapons.
On 7 July 2017, the United Nations adopted a landmark agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Despite government claims to support multilateral disarmament and a world without nuclear weapons, the United Kingdom, alongside other nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states, has boycotted the negotiations.
The report highlights that the dangers attached to the policy of nuclear deterrence have grown and explains why the high-risk gamble of states deploying thousands of active nuclear warheads will likely result in political, environmental and humanitarian disaster. .
Dr David McCoy, Director of Medact, says:
“We have produced a simple but cogent set of arguments that expose the flawed, dangerous and wasteful policy of possessing and modernising nuclear weapons. Deterrence, only believable as long as the world’s nuclear armories remain unused, is destined to fail. Whether caused by heightened tensions between nuclear states, or by factors such as cyber terrorism, software failures or accidents, it is just a matter of when, not if.”
“This is not to suggest that multilateral disarmament would be easy. It would require a great deal of hard work, skillful diplomacy and some courage. But it can be done; and it must be done. This is our simple message as doctors and health professionals.”
“By abandoning our reliance on an increasingly redundant and dangerous approach to national security, Britain can demonstrate its diplomatic prowess and its economic and cultural influence r to take a lead on multilateral disarmament and make the world safer.”
Since biological and chemical weapons have been banned for over 20 years, the UN treaty represents an important step to outlaw the most dangerous Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMDs) of all, recognising that nuclear detonations, whether by accident or intention, would cause even greater catastrophic humanitarian consequences.
Dr Rebecca Johnson, president of the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, says:
“Whether the UK government likes it or not, the majority of the world has made it clear they are serious about banning and eliminating nuclear weapons. This new Nuclear Prohibition Treaty will greatly increase the legal, economic and public pressures to halt Britain’s billion-pound spending spree on Trident”
A Safer World: Treating Britain’s harmful dependence on nuclear weapons is available here: www.medact.org/2017/resources/ reports/a-safer-world-treating -britains-harmful-dependence-o n-nuclear-weapons