UK Under Fire for Plan to Illegally Increase Nuclear Stockpile

July 16th, 2021 - by Niall Christie / The Morning Star

Pressure Campaign after Ministers ‘Broke Treaty’ on Nuke Stockpile

Niall Christie / The Morning Star

LONDON (July 12, 2021) — The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is set to report the British government to the United Nations (UN) over plans to raise the cap on its stockpile of warheads.

A new CND campaign, which launches today, will seek backing from the public before complaints are brought against the state.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced heavy criticism after a defense policy review in March proposed lifting the current cap on Trident nuclear warheads by over 40 percent — from 180 to 260. 

An expert legal opinion, commissioned by the CND and published by academics from the London School of Economics in May, argued that the proposals are in breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Professor Christine Chinkin and Dr Louise Arimatsu said that the announcement constitutes a breach of Article VI of the NPT, which commits nations to pursuing negotiations “in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

The academics suggested that Britain would also be in breach of international law were it to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against a state party to the NPT.

The CND said that Britain and other states in breach of their NPT commitments must immediately halt all policies and activities that breach and undermine the treaty.

General secretary Kate Hudson said it could not be disputed that the government is in breach of international law. She said Britain is behaving like a “rogue state” and that the UN must intervene. 

“It’s no surprise that there has been widespread international condemnation of this move — some say it’s starting a new nuclear arms race,” she said.

“People up and down the country have been outraged by this decision; it reverses 30 years of gradual nuclear reductions and makes us all less safe. 

“CND wants to give a voice to that anger by allowing people to demand international action.

“Spending tens of billions on more nuclear weapons is the last thing we need.

“Every last pound the government wants to spend on weapons of mass destruction should be spent on supporting our NHS and its heroic staff.”

MPs on the opposition benches have already given their backing to the campaign, appealing for ministers to listen to arguments for disarmament at home and abroad. 

Kirsten Oswald, SNP deputy leader at Westminster and CND parliamentary chair, said that the issue of nuclear weapons is too serious for the government to continue in this way and that the NPT is vital in securing the future of the world. 

“The UK government is gaining a reputation for believing there is one rule for them and a different rule for everyone else,” she told the Morning Star.

“The UK government has ignored domestic calls to halt their irresponsible expansion in nuclear capability, contrary to their treaty obligations.

“Perhaps they will listen to the voices of the international community.”

A Ministry of Defense spokeswoman said that maintaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent capability at a minimum credible level is “fully consistent with our international legal obligations.”

She said that nuclear deterrents exist to deter the “most extreme threats to the UK and our Nato allies” and that the stockpile ceiling, which she said was not a target, is kept under review.

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