Tony Blair revealed that he intends to build new nuclear weapons to replace the current Trident nuclear weapons system. He plans to spend £20bn on a new generation of submarines for Trident missiles while joining the US programme to extend the life of the current Trident missile system.
In fact, the UK government has already started construction on facilities to build a new nuclear bomb. According to testimony by US nuclear weapons scientists the new high tech facilities at Aldermaston are for designing and building new nuclear weapons.
Tony Blair says that even though the Cold War has ended, no one could be sure that another nuclear threat would not emerge in the future.
Well, if the government carries on like this, we can be sure that there will be a future threat.
Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction that indiscriminately incinerate people and contaminate the air, soil, and water across national boundaries and across generations. That's why the world agreed to work to eliminate them decades ago and that's why the UK pledged in 1968 and again in 2000 to get rid of nuclear weapons.
If the UK builds a new nuclear bomb now and has no intention of honouring our international legal commitments, it is an invitation for every other country to follow suit. According to recent legal advice by from Philippe Sands QC, the renewal, replacement, upgrading and sub-strategic use of Trident are inconsistent with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the UN Charter and international humanitarian law. In other words, if the UK government holds on to its nuclear weapons just in case there is a threat in the future, we're still breaking our good faith obligation. It's a recipe for the destruction of the international disarmament process.
Building new nuclear weapons at a time when the UK faces no foreseeable nuclear threat and when the international community is trying to prevent other countries developing their own is incredibly inflammatory, not to mention a monstrous waste of money and resources.
Blair had promised a full public debate about replacing Britain's nuclear weapons before he made a decision. We want that debate.
Work to build a new nuclear bomb must halt until the country has had the promised debate. The real threat to Britain isn't nuclear attack, it's climate change. Blair's successor could make Britain a low carbon country with the tens of billions it would cost to build a new atomic weapons system. If New Labour wants to renew itself, like it says it does, then dropping Trident renewal should be the first thing a new leader does.