Letter sent to The Times:
Alice Thomson makes a compelling case for nuclear disarmament, especially considering her grandfather’s pioneering role in developing atomic weapons (“Maybe Corbyn’s right about scrapping Trident,” 20 January; http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4669492.ece). However, I disagree with her caveat that “Britain’s UN security council seat could be in jeopardy if the country became nuclear-lite.”
In late October last year, states at the United Nations in New York decided to hold an open-ended working group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament to address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions, and norms that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. It will operate as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly. (http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/OEWG/2016/Documents/OEWG_Invitation28Jan.pdf)
Resolution 70/33 entitled “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations”, was subsequently adopted by the General Assembly on 7 December 2015. It builds upon the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, held on 26 September 2013.
The first meeting of this OEWG in 2016 will be held in Geneva on 28 January, (www.unog.ch/oewg-ndn), to which interested non-governmental organizations are invited to participate.
Last month Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked the Government about its voting on the resolutions promoting this multilateral nuclear disarmament process, to be told by Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay of St Johns that: “Lords
“At the UN First Committee in November, the UK voted against the Resolutions “L13 Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” and “L37 Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons” (Written answer HL4165, 10 December 2015)
In a Parliamentary answer to Labour backbench veteran MP Paul Flynn by another Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood on19 January, the minister asserted: “The UK has a strong record on nuclear disarmament.”
Yet it refuses to take part in the very multilateral nuclear disarmament forum established at the UN while the UK held the chair of the UN security council.
I believe the UK would be hugely appreciated as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council by the 190 odd other UN non- nuclear states if it began real steps towards nuclear disarmament.