The risk that terrorists might seek to acquire nuclear materials cannot be discounted. Acquiring materials that could be used in nuclear weapons would be catastrophic. But it is also unlikely: there has been an active effort to secure all weapons-usable fissile material and a large number of sting operations. There are still concerns about potential “loose” nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union, and about the possibility that Pakistani nuclear weapons might be lost or stolen. There are also concerns about the vulnerability of nuclear facilities to sabotage or terrorist attack. The nuclear security summit process has helped to reduce these risks, but the risks cannot be eliminated entirely. Nonetheless, there is a risk that the effort and attention devoted by the summit to this issue might have detracted – or at least not have helped fight – much broader nuclear dangers. The problem is that nuclear security issues are only a part of the nuclear danger facing the UK – and indeed its allies. Both the UK’s and Nato’s relations with Russia are at their worst level since the Cold War. North Korea is actively testing nuclear weapons and delivery means and recently released propaganda videos in which Washington DC and Seoul were destroyed by nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, there is the real possibility of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan that would directly affect the United Kingdom in a number of ways. Indian strategic planners would also likely argue that China’s role cannot be disentangled from the risks of conflict between India and Pakistan. There are signs that China, in turn, is evolving its own nuclear posture to deter the United States, and this will doubtless require a change in Nato’s nuclear doctrine in due course. Perhaps the more useful question to ponder is not whether the UK should renew Trident or otherwise, but under what circumstances should the UK be prepared to eliminate its nuclear weapons. I would argue that the UK should be prepared to do so when it can be assured that the non-proliferation regime is strong enough to prevent the emergence of further nuclear weapons states; that the UK’s security will not be lessened by the abandoning of nuclear weapons, and that the UK’s position in the world should not be set back by disarmament.
Telegraph 11th April 2016 read more »
PEACE campaigners gave a qualified welcome yesterday to a call for nuclear disarmament from G7 foreign ministers meeting in the Japanese city of Hiroshima. A summit of the ministers issued two statements on non-proliferation and paid tribute to the victims of the US atomic bombing of the city on August 6 1945. “In this historic meeting, we reaffirm our commitment to … creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons,” the declaration said. But that task has been made more complex, it said, by the deteriorating security environment in countries such as Syria and Ukraine, as well as by North Korea’s “repeated provocations” — a reference to Pyongyang’s four nuclear weapons tests.
Morning Star 12th April 2016 read more »
US Secretary of State John Kerry joined other world leaders to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed when US forces dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese town of Hiroshima in 1945. However, a senior US official said Mr Kerry would not apologise for the atrocity.
Independent 11th April 2016 read more »