Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Supporting WMD

So Gordon has announced that he wants the UK to retain an independent nuclear deterrent thus prejudging the "debate" we're all going to be allowed to have on this. Hurray! Is he Prime Minister already then?

And I was hoping he'd be an improvement. Yeah, I suppose that was daft. What can I say? I'm an eternal optimist. Well, I used to be anyway. This government, to give them credit where it's due, does a good line in ruthlessly crushing any sense of optimism you might have been foolish enough to hold on to.

Here's what Brown actually said in context (just for laughs, note the tortuous attempt to make the statement appear part of his actual brief).
What I said when I made the Bank of England independent remains even more true today, I said that our new monetary and fiscal regime was founded on stability first, foremost and always, stability yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And I mean not just stability by securing low inflation but stability in our industrial relations, stability through a stable and competitive tax regime, and stability through a predictable and light touch regulatory environment – a stability founded on our strength to make the right long term decisions, the same strength of national purpose we will demonstrate in protecting our security in this Parliament and the long-term – strong in defence in fighting terrorism, upholding NATO, supporting our armed forces at home and abroad, and retaining our independent nuclear deterrent.

In an insecure world we must and will always have the strength to take all necessary long term decisions for stability and security.
He hasn't explicitly stated that he believes Trident should be replaced but he has dropped a rather enormous hint.

If the UK government does make a policy decision to "retain" our nuclear deterrent and replace Trident with a new nuclear weapons system, will we also be withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

Just a reminder of 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.
[my emphasis]
The UK government surely couldn't simply be planning to ignore the provisions of this hugely important international treaty. I mean, to deliberately flaunt the spirit, and almost certainly the letter, of this treaty would make our government an international pariah, a rogue state with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. It would make a mockery of our obligations to the international community. The UN Security Council would undoubtedly have to impose some sort of sanctions...

Oh, hang on. I forgot that we're the indisputable good guys. These obligations don't apply to *us*. The idea that *we* should be constrained by international treaties we're a party to is just silly.

(As a side issue, there's some considerable debate as to how independent it really is. We buy the Trident missiles from the US government. What chance we could actually use any of it independently (not that I'd like them used at all obviously)? There's every chance that these missiles would mysteriously not work if the UK government tried to use them independently of the US. The "independent" nuclear deterrent may very well be a complete misnomer.)


For those who have a care about the misuse of the English language, I'm reliably informed that it should be "flout the spirit", not "flaunt the spirit". It's a common error apparently. I really should have paid more attention in those English classes.

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Bill said...

I seem to recall there was a sketch in 'Yes, Minister' years ago where Sir Humphry explained to a bemused Minister in a rare slip of the tongue that we needed nuclear weapons "so long as the French have them" - forget all that nonsense about the USSR ;)

It's probably true to say that I'm pretty much on the fence about this, unlike you seem to be - I have no firm views about what we should do. Except of course that so far as nuclear power generation is concerned we definitely need that.

CuriousHamster said...

Ah yes, I remember that. Top notch. As usual with Yes Minister, there's probably more than a grain of truth to it too. They just don't make TV quite that good anymore.

I think it's fair to say I'm not on the fence on this. What really irks me though is the way the govt promises a "debate" on the issue while simulateously making it clear that they've already decided what the outcome of the debate will be.

On an issue like this, we should have a proper, honest national debate (including discussing whether we do want to flout the provisions of the NNPT or not). If, after that, the British people want it, I'd reluctantly have to accept that. But for B&B to take this decision behind closed doors... Bah! It's not on.