Bishops speak out against Trident
Wednesday 13th July 2016
CATHOLIC bishops questioned the renewal of Trident yesterday and called on Britain to take “decisive and courageous steps” towards eliminating nuclear weapons.
In a joint statement, eight bishops in Scotland said: “Lives are being lost now because money that could be spent on the needy and the poor is tied up in nuclear arsenals.”
The House of Commons will vote on the matter next week after the government recommended renewing the Trident fleet, which is located at Faslane naval base on the River Clyde.
“The bishops of Scotland have for a long time pointed out the immorality of the use of strategic nuclear weapons due to the indiscriminate destruction of innocent human life that their use would cause.
“The renewal of Trident is questioned not just by those concerned with the morality of nuclear weapons themselves but also by those concerned about the use of scarce financial resources.
“Lives are being lost now because money that could be spent on the needy and the poor is tied up in nuclear arsenals.
“We endorse the words of Pope Francis: ‘Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations’.”
The bishops pointed out that Britain signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968, which binds those who have nuclear weapons to work towards disposing them.
“Britain should take more decisive and courageous steps to revive that aspect of the treaty and not seek to prolong the status quo,” they added.
Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley, Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Toal and Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert are among the figures which have signed the anti-Trident statement.
Theresa May needs to wake up to reality on Trident
Wednesday 13th July 2016
Britain’s WMD are an out-of-date security risk, not fit for the 21st century, writes KATE HUDSON
LAST week, when Theresa May was still just a Tory leadership hopeful, she asserted: “It would be sheer madness to contemplate even for a moment giving up Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent.”
No doubt she thought this made for a good stump speech that would help the votes roll in.
But I — and no doubt countless others — found this extremely alarming, even more so now that May is being confirmed as Prime Minister.
We need more rigorous, up-to-date thinking than this, and at least some evidence that she is willing to make an informed decision rather than a knee-jerk reaction about something that seems — for the political class at least — to be an ideological weapon to be wielded in a completely uninformed way.
She’s got some quick thinking to do, because Parliament is due to vote on this very question of Trident replacement next Monday — July 18. I suggest she and other MPs consider the following points.
The decision to buy Trident was made in the 1980s. Whether to replace it has to be judged by what we need today.
It would be sheer irresponsibility not to contemplate giving up Trident. We need a 21st-century approach to our security needs. Is there any sector where we just unthinkingly carry on with the same old policy?
In fact, May’s own government has twice concluded in its national security strategies that the main threats we face come from terrorism, climate change, pandemics and cyber warfare.
It would be sheer folly to spend £205 billion on a weapons system that does nothing to address these threats and actually puts us at greater risk by making us a target. It would surely be wise to contemplate — even for a moment — spending that money on more useful things.
Let’s spend a moment contemplating the technological viability of Trident, as we hear from experts that the submarine systems will be vulnerable to cyber-attack.
So Trident is not only irrelevant to our needs, it is likely to be rendered obsolete. Former Labour defence secretary Lord Des Browne — who helped Tony Blair push the first step towards Trident replacement through Parliament in 2007 — has pointed out that a cyber-attack could knock out Trident.
And industry experts agreed that “any national public or private infrastructure service or defence facility” could be hacked.
The MoD has rushed to assure us that appropriate safeguards will be made, but the fact is, this is a 20th-century system and it looks and acts like one.
When those subs were first built they were undetectable underwater so enemies never knew where they were.
How can that possibly be the case in the 21st century? Trident is the size of two jumbo jets.
Vast amounts of money are being poured into underwater drone technology and politicians need to make decisions based on these contemporary realities, not just wave these developments aside as if they are in a cold war time warp.
Eventually Trident will be both detectable and targetable. It’s old times technology, and attempts to update it are not going to offset these huge security risks. It would be sheer profligacy to waste British taxpayers’ money on a system with built-in redundancy.
I hope our new Prime Minister will carefully scrutinise the case for and against Trident. Those precious moments contemplating this crucial issue would be well spent, for to replace Trident would be sheer madness.
There is no case where nuclear weapons make us safer or enhance our security. These are weapons of mass destruction, the use — or threat of use — of which is illegal. In 1996 the International Court of Justice advised that: “The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.”
And it’s not just CND that opposes nuclear weapons. Senior military figures describe Trident as useless and call for it to be scrapped. They want the £205bn or more replacement cost spent on military equipment and troops.
Crispin Blunt, Conservative chair of the foreign affairs select committee and a former army officer, is outspokenly against replacing Trident.
As he points out: “The price required, both from the UK taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible.”
The debate in Britain has moved on and so has the debate globally. The majority of the world is organised in nuclear weapons-free zones and the overwhelming majority of states back a global nuclear weapons ban treaty.
After all, if there is a nuclear exchange, all countries will be affected, irrespective of whether they are involved in the conflict or not. Rearming Britain with a new nuclear weapons system goes against the trend. It also goes against what is proven to work in complex international and regional conflicts and disputes — painstaking diplomacy and the willingness to go the extra mile for a peaceful solution.
Rearming with nuclear weapons — which is what replacing Trident will be — just makes nuclear war more likely. May needs to get informed about all these elements of the Trident debate. It’s time to choose the rational and sensible option: no Trident replacement.
Kate Hudson is general secretary of CND.
Please join us to protest against Trident replacement during the parliamentary vote on Monday July 18 at 6pm in Parliament Square.