Saturday, 28 September 2019

UK's diplomatic hypocrisy over drones and nuclear weapons

Unpublished letter sent to the Guardian:

I notice the Foreign Office has issued a statement condemning the use of drones against two Saudi Arabian oil facilities. (“Iran denies Saudi drone attacks and warns US ‘your bases are in range’,” 16 September;

The Government condemnation states: “Threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure is dangerous, provocative and completely unacceptable.”

These drone strikes may be contrasted with the UK’s clean–hands policy on the militarily offensive use of drones. According to the independent group Drone Wars, the UK has conducted 3,324 uses of Reaper drones on targets in Iraq and Syria since August 2014 (

Although no doubt these strikes were against targets intelligence had identified as containing ISIS fighters, many will also have been civilian areas, and there will have been considerable what the military describe euphemistically as “collateral damage” to sanitise the carnage.

Moreover, ten days ago, the British prime minister issued a joint statement with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, following a brief meeting at10 Downing Street, agreeing “on the need to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons.” (Netanyahu uses No 10 visit to caution over Iran nuclear talks,” 6 September;

The UK has 180 nuclear warheads, and experts calculate Israel has around 200. Iran has none.

Do British diplomats ever feel ashamed of their nation’s international hypocrisy?

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