Friday, 28 February 2020

Nuclear hypocrisy of the very worst kind from the UK Government (again!)


Even for a Government led by such a dissembling, shameless, reprobate Prime Minister, they have outdone themselves in hypocrisy over security policy this week.

On Wednesday 26 February - having fully briefed The Times’  defence editor Lucy Fisher the day before – PM Johnson issued a written statement (HCWS126) to Parliament on an  ‘Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy’ (

Johnson told MPs: Commons

“Today the Government is setting out its approach to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

The Government has set in train the biggest review of our foreign, defence, security and development policy since the end of the Cold War. We need to grasp the opportunities of the next decade and deliver upon the Government’s priorities. This is a defining moment in how the UK relates to the rest of the world and we want to take this unique opportunity to reassess our priorities and our approach to delivering them.

The Integrated Review will

i) Define the Government's ambition for the UK's role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy.

ii) Set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation, examining how we work more effectively with our allies.

iii) Determine the capabilities we need for the next decade and beyond to pursue our objectives and address the risks and threats we face.

iv) Identify the necessary reforms to Government systems and structures to achieve these goals.

v) Outline a clear approach to implementation over the next decade and set out how we will evaluate delivery of our aims.

The Review will be underpinned by the commitments the Government has already made to continue to exceed the NATO target of spending 2% of GDP on Defence, to commit 0.7% of GNI to international development and to maintain the nuclear deterrent.

A cross-Whitehall team in the Cabinet Secretariat, and a small taskforce in No10, will report to me and the National Security Council. The review will be closely aligned with this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review but will also look beyond it. The Government will consult with experts beyond Whitehall – in the UK and among our allies – in order to ensure the best possible outcome and to build a strong platform for the decade ahead. We will keep Parliament fully informed during the process as we deliver a review that is in the best interests of the British people across the United Kingdom.”

This is a commendably wide review platform, and it follows serious defence and security reviews initiated by Johnson’s predecessors as PM.

On the same day in New York at a United Nations Security Council briefing on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Ambassador Jonathan Allen, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN

(“The Non-Proliferation Treaty remains essential to maintain peace and security,” Statement by Ambassador Jonathan Allen, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council briefing on the Non-Proliferation Treaty26 February 2020;



“.. over the last 50 years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, has minimised the proliferation of nuclear weapons, provided the framework to enable significant levels of nuclear disarmament …  It has played a crucial role in providing the basis for our discussions on Iran and DPRK. And the UK is committed to the NPT review process and will work with all partners for a positive outcome.

We know that some states feel progress on nuclear disarmament has been slow. The United Kingdom continuously engages with a wide range of states and it takes these concerns seriously. The UK’s view is that any meaningful discussion on disarmament must take into account the wider security environment, which is increasingly difficult. We all have a responsibility to work towards a safer, more stable world in which those states with nuclear weapons feel able to relinquish them.


He went on to assert:

“we want to ensure that the upcoming 2020 Review Conference allows us to hold full and frank discussions with the widest number of state parties about all pillars of the NPT; reflects on the successes so far, and; sets collective direction for the future. Our ambition is that state parties agree a consensus outcome.

Madam President, let me highlight four of the United Kingdom’s contributions to a successful RevCon. Firstly, we will be submitting a final national report, setting out how we’ve implemented the NPT across all three pillars during this cycle. We tabled a draft version during the NPT Preparatory Committee last year and have hosted a series of feedback sessions with a wide range of states, civil society and academics.

Secondly, we have coordinated the P5 process since Prep-Com, continuing the excellent work that took place under Chinese leadership. The United Kingdom hosted a P5 Directors General conference in London on the 12th and 13th of February this year and welcomed there Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen and other members of the bureau for a fruitful exchange of views. P5 discussions at that conference covered all three pillars of the NPT and included improving transparency and P5 cooperation on a range of initiatives.

Thirdly, in light of our focus on transparency, the conference included a day for civil society and think tanks to engage with P5 officials and discuss these important issues.”

He then added, perhaps more controversially:

“On the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which others have raised, the United Kingdom has been clear we will not sign or ratify the treaty. Instead, the United Kingdom will continue to promote the step by step approach and work for universalisation of the NPT; early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and; promote the early commencements and conclusions of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

We must also ensure the NPT RevCon gives proper regard to the achievements that it is made possible under Pillars 2 and 3. On Pillar 2 the NPT has played an unparalleled role in curtailing the nuclear arms race. Historic predictions were made of tens or even 20 nuclear arms states. Today, there remain fewer than 10.

For these reasons and more, the United Kingdom continues to believe that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, approaching its 50th anniversary, remains essential to the maintenance of a safe and secure world. We look forward to engaging with all Security Council members and all state parties to achieve a successful outcome at this year’s review conference and help to ensure the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains effective and central to our collective security for many years to come.”

All of which sounds very sensible and constructive, except on the day before these two statement on nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and security, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace released another Written Statement to Parliament ( “Nuclear Update, Ministry of Defence, 25 February 2020; Lords

“[The MOD’s] Defence Nuclear Organisation is working with the Atomic Weapons Establishment: to build the highly skilled teams and put in place the facilities and capabilities needed to deliver the replacement warhead; whilst also sustaining the current warhead until it is withdrawn from service. We will continue to work closely with the U.S. to ensure our warhead remains compatible with the Trident Strategic Weapon System.

Delivery of the replacement warhead will be subject to the Government’s major programme approvals and oversight. My Department will continue to provide updates through the annual report to Parliament on the United Kingdom’s future nuclear deterrent.”

In collaborating with the United States on the development of a new Trident nuclear warhead, both the UK and US will be in direct violation of the NPT- for which both nations are depository states and drafters of the treaty- in particular Article 1. This stipulates:

Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly…”(

Collaborative work on Trident replacement warheads in any normal use of language at the very least is an “indirect transfer.” When challenged on this contradiction , the UK Foreign Office usually adopts the Humpty Dumpty  verbal juggling posture:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

I explained in an earlier Blog (, last Sunday’s Observer revealed

Earlier this month, Pentagon officials confirmed that its proposed W93 sea-launched warhead, the nuclear tip of the next generation of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, would share technology with the UK’s next nuclear weapon, implying that a decision had been taken between the two countries to work on the programme.

(“Pentagon reveals deal with Britain to replace Trident: MPs dismayed after US defence officials leak news of nuclear weapons deal before parliament is told, 23 February 2020; “

Wallace’s statement provided the context for the MOD decision to  renew Trident nuclear WMD warheads, stating:

“In 2007 the Government, endorsed by a Parliamentary vote, began a programme to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent beyond the early 2030s. The 2015 Strategic Defence & Security Review (Cm 9161) confirmed the UK’s commitment to an independent minimum credible deterrent, reaffirmed in 2016 when the House voted overwhelmingly to maintain the Continuous At Sea Deterrence posture. Our independent nuclear deterrent is essential to defend the UK and our NATO allies against the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life. The Government’s 2019 manifesto pledged: “We will maintain our Trident nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our security”. To ensure the Government maintains an effective deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarine we are replacing our existing nuclear warhead to respond to future threats and the security environment.


So, the MOD has pre-empted any genuine review of the role, if any, the Trident  strategic nuclear WMD system should play in future UK security policy, by committing the UK in advance to pay billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to upgrade one part of the UK’s security apparatus hardware. And all was done in a 24 hour period with very little media coverage.

This is atomic hypocrisy of the worst kind!


Other nuclear disarmament and proliferation events this week are summarized in this article from Euractiv below


Annex 1

Nuclear arms control treaty set for review as divisions over non-proliferation mount, 27 February ‎2020

Security Council meeting on non-proliferation and supporting the Non-proliferation Treaty ahead of the 2020 Review Conference. [UN Photo/Loey Felipe]


As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in March, the United Nations is preparing to review the accord amid growing signs that divisions and distrust are rife among countries that possess nuclear arsenals.

“Relationships between states – especially nuclear-weapon states – are fractured. So-called ‘great power competition’ is the order of the day. Division, distrust and a dearth of dialogue are increasingly the norm,” UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu told a UN Security Council meeting, requested by Germany, on Wednesday (26 February).

Nakamitsu warned that “the spectre of unconstrained nuclear competition looms over us for the first time since the 1970s”.

Although she did not directly point the finger at US, Russia and China, Nakamitsu warned the world is “witnessing what has been termed a qualitative nuclear arms race – one not based on numbers but on faster, stealthier and more accurate weapons.”

“Regional conflicts with a nuclear dimension are worsening, and proliferation challenges are not receding,” she added.

In force since March 1970, the NPT is the only binding multilateral commitment to the goal of disarmament by states which officially stockpile nuclear weapons. Initially intended to last for 25 years it was indefinitely extended in 1995.

According to the landmark accord, the non-nuclear power states have undertaken not to acquire nuclear weapons and the states with nuclear arsenals are obliged to pursue disarmament, while all have the right to access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, under certain safeguards.

So far, 191 states are parties to the NPT and only India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan remain outside.

The UN conducts a review conference every five years, with the next one, due in April/May, meant to address the North Korean nuclear and missile developments, the shaky Iranian nuclear deal, last year’s collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and the continuing modernisation programs of the five recognised nuclear-weapon states.

Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists annually adjusts its symbolic Doomsday Clock, which indicates how close humanity and the planet are to complete disaster. This year, we’re closer than ever, the scientists announced on Thursday (23 January).

Against this background, Nakamitsu said she hopes to encourage “a spirit of flexibility” during the conference in April, which is meant to reaffirm commitment to the treaty and all its obligations, and to the norm against the use of nuclear weapons.

At the meeting, UN Security Council members “expressed their resolve to further advance the goals” of the NPT, in light of current international geopolitical challenges, but they also stressed “the importance of upholding and strengthening the Treaty,” current UN Security Council President, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, said on Wednesday (26 February).

They called on all states parties to the NPT “to cooperate in facilitating progress in non-proliferation, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and nuclear disarmament” and “expressed their readiness to work together and join efforts to achieve a successful outcome at the 2020 NPT Review Conference.”

Although all 15 Security Council members supported the final statement on the NPT, UN sources said the Russian and the US representative clashed at the meeting over the breakdown in arms control negotiations.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Council that the only realistic way ahead is applying pressure and stepping up nuclear diplomacy.

A role for Europe?

On Tuesday, foreign ministers of 16 countries gathered in Berlin to support the Swedish-brokered Stockholm Initiative on Nuclear Disarmament and adopted a political declaration calling nuclear weapons states to take measures.

Swedish diplomats had repeatedly warned the ‘NPT community’ not to “turn up empty-handed in 2020” and initiated a process to carve out joint proposals for the upcoming talks in New York.

According to Maas, the meeting proposed “a number of practical steps to help avoid misperceptions, reduce nuclear risks, and restore trust”, including verification measures, greater transparency with regard to nuclear weapons stocks, crisis-proof communication channels and open dialogue about strategic stability and nuclear doctrines.

After the INF Treaty collapsed last summer and with several other accords in jeopardy or set to expire, disarmament experts have called for an “urgent response”, including from the Europeans, who had largely looked on during its demise.<img width="800" height="600" src="" class="attachment-4x3 size-4x3 wp-post-image ea-media-unrolled ea-media-formatted img-responsive" alt="">

A landmark agreement of Cold War-era arms control signed by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan in 1987, the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) banned a whole class of medium-range ground-launched nuclear-capable missiles of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.

As NATO members, the majority of EU member states are covered by the military pact’s ‘nuclear umbrella’, with several of them (Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and the UK) hosting US nuclear weapons on their territory.

In a post-Brexit push in February, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Europeans to propose together “an international agenda of arms control”.

According to Macron, the moment has come for Europeans to “define together what their security interests are” and act to establish “a renewed international agenda for arms control”, an area where new treaties are to be written.

In mid-February, EU lawmakers in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) adopted recommendations for the European Council and the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on what stance to take on preparing the 2020 NPT review process, nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament options.

“The EU needs to continue to work hard to make the upcoming NPT Review Conference a success,” rapporteur Sven Mikser (S&D) said, adding that  the treaty “continues to be the best instrument available to the international community to pursue a path towards a world free of nuclear weapons.”

In a recent Parliament report, MEPs recommended the Council and the EU foreign policy chief should “reaffirm the EU’s and member states’ full support to the NPT and its three mutually reinforcing pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear energy”.

After the 2019 INF treaty collapse, MEPs urged EU officials to call on the US and Russia to resume dialogue and put in place a new legally binding instrument for short- and medium-range missiles. They also sought clear commitments from Russia and the US to extend the new START Treaty before it expires in February 2021.

EU lawmakers also recommended the EU should continue its commitment to keep the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) alive as a guarantee to keep Tehran’s nuclear enrichment programme in check.

Iran ratified the NPT in 1970 but has been under international pressure since 2005 for not providing relevant information on its nuclear programme, while North Korea unilaterally withdrew in 2003 and has since conducted six increasingly sophisticated nuclear tests.

Annex 2

Ministry of Defence

27 February 2020


Made by: Baroness Goldie (Minister of State for Defence)


Defence Equipment Plan

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to place in the Library of the House the 2019 financial summary of the Defence Equipment Plan, which sets out our plans to deliver the equipment needed by our Armed Forces to defend the country and protect our national interest.

The threat to the UK and our interests is intensifying and diversifying. As we set out in the Modernising Defence Programme, we need to modernise to keep pace with these threats. The forthcoming Integrated Security, Defence & Foreign Policy Review will provide us with the opportunity to re-visit our equipment plans to make sure that we are spending the Defence budget on the right capabilities to keep our country safe in the decades ahead. This will inescapably bring some difficult choices.

We will need to create the financial headroom in our Equipment Plan to harness emerging technologies and develop the battle-winning capabilities of tomorrow. We know that to get this right, we must accelerate our work to mobilise, modernise and transform so that we deliver more effectively and efficiently over the long term. Reviewing our acquisition process will be an important part of this work.

Whilst there is clearly work still to do, the Department has made encouraging progress in improving financial management, including in the Equipment Plan. We have balanced the budget for equipment in the 2019/20 financial year and refined our assessment of the financial shortfall in our plans for the next decade, which has reduced from £7 billion to £2.9 billion, or 1.6% of our equipment budget.

We take seriously the recommendations of the 2018 Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the Equipment Plan and in April 2019 reported the actions we are taking in response. These include revisions to this report to include further analysis of changes to the affordability of the Plan and provide further background information to individual projects.

The Government remains committed to meeting the NATO target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence and at least 20% of that spending will be on equipment. During 2018/19, the Government committed £1.6 billion additional spending for Defence and a further £2.2 billion was committed in Spending Round 2019. The detailed implications of this most recent settlement on the Equipment Plan are being reviewed and will be reported in due course.

The Department is alert to the financial challenges rooted in previous SDSRs that were over ambitious and underfunded. That is why the Prime Minister granted a £2.2 billion uplift at the last Spending Review and it is why the Integrated Defence, Security and Foreign Policy Review will be vital in ensuring the Department’s plans are put on a stable footing.


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