Orpington Labour Party have had a consistent policy of opposition to nuclear weapons. Many of our members are active in CND, WILPF, Labour Action for Peace and other organizations. We have sent resolutions to several Labour conferences calling for nuclear disarmament—most recently in 2007 with a motion opposing the replacement of Trident.
While we do not underestimate the real and serious threats to our security, we believe that nuclear weapons have no useful role to play in making the world a safer place. As India and Pakistan continue to dispute Kashmir, their possession of nuclear weapons make the conflict hotter not colder. Israel’s nuclear weapons simply add to regional tensions and make it more likely that other Middle Eastern states will seek the same capability. In conflicts like Darfur and Bosnia, the need is for flexible conventional forces working through organizations like the United Nations and the African Union.
Possible nuclear scenarios for Europe are 1) a fanatical terrorist or dissident group buying or stealing weapons-grade plutonium and detonating a ‘dirty’ bomb in a port area 2) an attack on a nuclear power station aimed at creating a radiation leak. Our possession of nuclear weapons does not help to defend against either of these possibilities. Even if another government had sponsored the attack would we really target that country’s civilian population with our own nuclear weapons?
Some people also argue that spending on nuclear weapons research will stimulate high-tech industry generally. If this is true then surely we would be even better off funding research in more useful areas such as renewable energy, low emission transport and assistive and adaptive technologies for people with disabilities.
It’s time that we took our Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation seriously and took the first step toward nuclear disarmament. Let us say now that the UK will create no new nuclear weapons. Let us set a timetable for decommissioning Trident and removing all nuclear weapons from UK territory.
Happy 50th birthday CND! I can only hope that we don’t need to celebrate your 100th!