Letter: Perils of nuclear proliferation

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article on Trident (1 October) was very welcome as it set out a clear case for the international community to strengthen non-proliferation measures, and in particular permanently to extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Labour believes that its survival after the 1995 Extension Conference is seriously threatened because of the reluctance of Britain to honour its obligations under Article 6. This states that the parties to the treaty will:

pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to . . . a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Therefore, in theory, Conservative ministers are just as committed to a nuclear-free world as we are. However, in practice their blinkered and narrow policies have actually encouraged the spread of nuclear weapons. Their refusal to end British nuclear testing, their plans to purchase a completely new type of tactical nuclear weapon at an estimated cost of pounds 3bn, and their policy of allowing the export to Iraq of British dual-use technology have seriously undermined British, European and international security.

We all know that, in the absence of a cohesive and long-term approach to proliferation, the risk of a nuclear attack on Britain will increase. That is why I believe that, as a vital first step, ministers should join us in reaffirming their commitment to Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They should then set out what steps they intend to take to achieve the objectives enshrined in that Treaty. Until they have done so, all their protestations about the dangers of nuclear proliferation cannot be taken seriously.

Yours sincerely,


MP for South Shields (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

4 October

The writer is the Labour Party spokesman on Defence.