Britain could lead the world, says US General
General Jack Sheehan, former Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, told this evening\’s BBC Radio 4\’s World Tonight: “I think the UK is very close to saying we\’re the first permanent member of the Security Council to do away with nuclear weapons.” Paul Ingram, Executive Director of BASIC responded: “Such a statement from a senior US General is unprecedented and highly sensitive, blowing open the issue in a far more potent manner. The momentum towards reconsidering the decision made two years ago to replace Trident is now rapidly building pace. Only last week, the serving Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Richard Dannett, in response to a question on a letter authored by three former UK Generals against Trident, expressed his surprise that the public debate two years ago was relatively muted.”
The UK Government has made a number of positive statements these last two years, backing multilateral moves towards negotiations, as well as proposing concrete steps. But its credibility behind this call has been called into question internationally because of its decision to replace Trident. Those in favour of replacement have an uphill struggle to build up this credibility with non-nuclear weapon states who themselves establish their own national security by other means. The replacement of Trident holds back the opportunity alluded to by Gen Jack Sheehan of Britain establishing its role as a global leader in making the world a safer place.
The World Tonight\’s website quotes the General saying: “I think it is entirely possible that the British government, for a lot of good reasons, could do it and it would lead the world… All of a sudden you call into question why the French have a system… It creates an impetus for the US and Russia to kind of move away from this position they\’re currently in, to start a dialogue to build on.”