New front opens in anti-nuclear campaign

The fight over nuclear weapons is heating up again
The fight over nuclear weapons is heating up again

The campaign against Britain's nuclear arsenal took a surprising turn today after efforts to reduce stockpiles came from an altogether different angle.

In a letter to the Times, four former foreign and defence secretaries appealed to the world's nuclear states to cut down on their nuclear weapons. Unlike campaigns run by the left-wing Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, however, the letter's signatories are composed of a collection of Tories and Lords.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Owen, Lord Hurd and Lord Robertson urge the world's nuclear powers - specifically the US and Russia who between them have 95 per cent of the world's nuclear arsenal - to abide by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The treaty does not require signatories to unilaterally disarm their nuclear capacity, but it does insist on a reduction in the arsenal. Britain's current plans to renew Trident do not satisfy that criteria.


"We can't lecture to non-nuclear states if we don't fulfill our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to cut back on our weapons," wrote Lord Robertson, former defense secretary and secretary general of Nato.

The letter does not advocate cuts in Britain's nuclear arsenal per se, but a focus on what Britain could do if a major multilateral disarmament to take place.

"Our defence review, which was carried out ten years ago, led to a substantial reduction in Britain's nuclear weapons but we want to put this issue back on the agenda," Lord Robertson told The Times.

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