While the British media were concentrating on the 2018 Budget being unveiled by the Chancellor in Parliament, another arm of the UK Government - the Foreign Office - was signing up to a collective statement with Russia, the US, France and China, on nuclear weapons. (http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3384609)
In one remarkable passage from the collective statement (reproduced in full blow from the Russian foreign Ministry) by the Permanent 5 (P5) on the United Nations Security Council,presented to the UN General Assembly they assert:
“We remain committed under the Treaty [on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, NPT] to the pursuit of good faith negotiations on effective measures related to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. We support the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all. We are committed to working to make the international environment more conducive to further progress on nuclear disarmament.”
This is utter hypocrisy, especially from the United Kingdom, which has never put its nuclear arms into multilateral disarmament negotiations, not even once since the UK signed the NPT fifty years ago in July 1968. Indeed, at the same time as the P5 statement was being issued, Chancellor Philip Hammond was boasting to the House of Commons he was making available an extra £1 billion to "boost our cyber capabilities and our anti-submarine capabilities and to maintain the pace of the Dreadnought programme to ensure a continuous at sea deterrent".(“Budget: Extra £1 Billion Given To UK Defence, ForcesNet, 29 October 2018) https://www.forces.net/news/numbers-what-budget-means-defence)
That translates into the Trident WMD submarine replacement programme continues full steam ahead.
The P5 also assert in a full frontal attack on a nuclear disarmament treaty backed last year by 122 countries the United Nations “It is in this context that we reiterate our opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). We firmly believe that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through a gradual process that takes into account the international security environment. This proven approach to nuclear disarmament has produced tangible results, including deep reductions in the global stockpiles of nuclear weapons.”
On Monday the organization, the International Campaign to Abolish nuclear Weapons (ICAN) whose grassroots campaign led to the TPNW,- and won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts- announced the launch of their new Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor on-line publication. the first subscriber should be the disarmament departments of the foreign ministries of the P5. And pronto!
Joint Statement by China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States
UNGA 73, FIRST COMMITTEE
We, the nuclear weapon States recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty, in all its aspects, fifty years since its signature.
This landmark Treaty has provided the essential foundation for international efforts to stem the threat that nuclear weapons would spread across the globe, and has thereby limited the risk of nuclear war. It has provided the framework within which the peaceful uses of nuclear technology – for electricity, medicine, agriculture and industry – could be promoted and shared, to the benefit of humanity. And by helping to ease international tensions and create conditions of stability, security and trust among nations, it has allowed for a vital and continuing contribution to nuclear disarmament.
We pledge our full and continued support for the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which plays a critical role in NPT implementation, both in promoting the fullest possible cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and in applying safeguards and verifying that nuclear programmes are exclusively for peaceful purposes. We emphasise the need to further strengthen the IAEA safeguards system, including the universalisation of the Additional Protocol.
We remain committed under the Treaty to the pursuit of good faith negotiations on effective measures related to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. We support the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all. We are committed to working to make the international environment more conducive to further progress on nuclear disarmament.
It is in this context that we reiterate our opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We firmly believe that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through a gradual process that takes into account the international security environment. This proven approach to nuclear disarmament has produced tangible results, including deep reductions in the global stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
The TPNW fails to address the key issues that must be overcome to achieve lasting global nuclear disarmament. It contradicts, and risks undermining, the NPT. It ignores the international security context and regional challenges, and does nothing to increase trust and transparency between States. It will not result in the elimination of a single weapon. It fails to meet the highest standards of non-proliferation. It is creating divisions across the international non-proliferation and disarmament machinery, which could make further progress on disarmament even more difficult.
We will not support, sign or ratify this Treaty. The TPNW will not be binding on our countries, and we do not accept any claim that it contributes to the development of customary international law; nor does it set any new standards or norms. We call on all countries that are considering supporting the TPNW to reflect seriously on its implications for international peace and security.
Rather, we urge all States to commit to the continued success of the NPT: to ensure compliance, to promote universalisation, to ensure the highest standards of non-proliferation, and to respond to ongoing and emerging proliferation challenges, wherever they occur. In this context our five countries reiterate our commitment to continue our individual and collective efforts within the NPT framework to advance nuclear disarmament goals and objectives.