Evidence submitted by CND


Summary of evidence submitted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND):

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) welcomes the formation of the Trident Commission and its detailed work on Britain’s nuclear weapons system. At a time of intensifying debate on the future of the system, its work constitutes a major contribution to a vital discussion. Together with the findings of the government’s Trident Alternatives Review, it will help to inform parliament and the public on this subject in an unprecedented fashion. As is to be expected, given our constitutional aims and longstanding record of activity, CND continues to advocate the scrapping of the Trident system and the cancellation of any replacement plans. The tenor of recent debate in the public sphere, taken together with opinion polling over a number of years, indicates that public opinion has shifted in the direction of CND’s position, and that many from across the political spectrum are also questioning the relevance of maintaining a system of weaponry designed for the specific challenges of the Cold War. The huge cost of the Trident system at a time of extensive public spending cuts has made a considerable contribution to this shift in public and political attitudes. The opportunity costs of Trident spending need to be considered, whether for defence or social spending. Those arguments – and figures – are well-known, and it is not our intention to repeat them here. Rather we intend to look at the question of Trident replacement in the context of Britain’s strategic security needs, and the impact that such a replacement would have on global security and nuclear proliferation.

The decision on whether or not to replace Britain’s nuclear weapons system must be taken on the basis of what will most contribute to the security of the British people. This submission suggests that non-replacement would best meet that requirement and would also make a significant contribution to international security by strengthening and advancing the disarmament and non-proliferation regime that is widely supported by states and civil society organisations globally. It is noted that there is an increasing trend within the international community favouring a global nuclear abolition treaty, with a new emphasis on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear use, including climate and agricultural impact. The requirements of the international treaty framework are outlined, together with the links between the failure of the nuclear weapons states to disarm and the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Legal opinion that a Trident replacement would be a material breach of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is noted.

It is noted that one of the most significant recent contributions to new thinking on Britain’s strategic security needs has been the coalition government’s National Security Strategy (NSS), published in autumn 2010. The findings of the NSS served to underscore a widespread popular sentiment that Trident is irrelevant against the threat of terrorism and other new and emerging threats.

The submission concludes that moves towards NPT compliance, exemplified by non-replacement of Trident, can help reverse the dangers of nuclear proliferation and prevent a new nuclear arms race.

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