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Thursday, June 22, 2006


This is not a question with any easy answer or possibly any answer. On the one hand we are reaching the stage where even the smallest superpower (to quote Dr Strangelove) is going to be able to develop a first strike capability to kill millions of people, possibly using nukes or more likey by delivering the same weight of anthrax or nerve gas. To that extent enforcing non-proliferation is vital.

On the other hand it is clearly being used as an excuse by our leaders in an intensely dishonest & dangerous way.

Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty we (the nuclear club) have a duty to
Article VI

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

That early date being sometime after March 5th 1970.

So when our government decide we must get ready to replace Trident with something less obsolete they are not practicing what they preach.

Rather worse, to my mind, is this
MINISTERS have boosted spending on Britain's top-secret nuclear research base to almost half a billion pounds a year as they examine plans to introduce a new generation of "mini-nukes" to replace Trident.

Scotland on Sunday revealed two years ago that Britain was considering abandoning its long-range nuclear missiles in favour of cheaper "mini-nukes" that could be used to strike rogue states.

Ministry of Defence chiefs and ministers are understood to be in advanced negotiations with the United States over developing a new range of much smaller and cheaper "bunker-busting" nuclear weapons that could be used to launch first-strike attacks on enemies.

Ministers have consistently denied that they have already decided to replace the Trident warheads, carried on four submarines based at Faslane, on the Clyde. Maintaining Britain's independent nuclear weapons swallows up to 3% of the MoD's budget, about £1bn a year.

Ministers maintain that the increased budget at Aldermaston is required to maintain the safety of Britain's existing stockpile of nuclear weapons.

But Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, argues there is a more sinister motive.

He said: "There is a conspicuous recruitment drive, which would indicate that they are clearly doing some work on a new nuclear warhead."
But Britain is also believed to be working closely with the United States on options for replacing the submarine-borne Trident warheads, which are expected to reach the end of their lives in 2025. Hundreds of British nuclear scientists have visited a series of nuclear weapons laboratories, including the Los Alamos complex.
But Frank Barnaby, a nuclear physicist who advises the Oxford Research Group, said the increased activity clearly pointed to an advanced programme of work to replace Trident.

He said: "If Aldermaston is recruiting these bright young scientists it will have to give them something to do to keep them busy"

If we are going to start producing "bunker burster" bombs to launch first strikes against states whom we classify as "rogue" (currently on the basis that they might like to develop the Bomb but the defintion is infinitely malleable) then we are quite definitely not thinking of using nuclear weapons as merely a deterent". We are spending these billions so that we can launch a tactical nuclear war against non-nuclear powers (only North Korea of all the states we call "rogue" is nuclear). This is entirely opposite from the "mutually assured destruction" which has been our justification for keeping the bomb all these year. Apart from being a legal breach of the NPT it removes its entire moral justification. If the objective is to disarm to take the Bomb out of the military options that is one thing, & something which everybody can agree is, whether achievableor not, a good objective. If instead it is purely to allow the US & a few favoured allies, a monopoly in, not just possession of, but use of nukes, this is something which nobody outside the Plan for a New American Century & a few acolytes abroad can support. It is something which will inevitably force other powers to build their own.

I don't know if Iran isactuallyy building nukes & perhaps more importantly, in their eyes as much as ours, doing so merely to prevent being bullied but it is certain that the US is being the bully. I am quite certain that had Yugoslavia not decided in the 1970s deliberately not to go nuclear for the sake of the stability of Europe, that we would never have supported the genocidal Nazis there that we did. Equally I am certain that Europe in particular is to small & full of nuclear capable powers to survive having a large number of nuclear states pointing at each other. A few years ago the SNP had a spokesman who had elsewhere putforward the vie that, on independence, Scotland should buy some intermediate range missiles, film thee with BC (baterial or chemical) warheads & take our seat at the top table. The SNP fired him when they found out but that is exactly what Britain is doing. If like Yugoslavia we were under a genuine threat from adefinablee enemy this might bedefensiblee but we are clearly not. We are being an ever worse example to a world that MUST learn to give up some level of sovereignty in confidence building measures & not to rattle nuclear sabres at each other.

In purely power rivalry terms our trident, presumably any replacement, does notactuallyl provide us with a real seat at the top table anyway. Unlike France's Bomb our is made in the USA & entirely dependent on US made spare parts. This gives us a perfect right to have our opinions heard as long as & only as they arepreciselyy the opinions of the current US President. We have thus maintained the illusion of being a world power while losing the actuality. Being prepared to at least downgrade our capability to produce Armageddonn would earn us more respect.

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