Friday, 29 June 2018

Naked nuclear hypocrisy

Letter to The Guardian:
Your diplomatic editor rightly exposes the faux concern expressed by various British politicians, over the White House announcement on 28 June of US President Trump’s forthcoming summit meeting with Russia’s President Putin. (“Britain stands nervously by waiting for surprises,” 29 June;

 On the very same day as this announcement, foreign secretary Boris Johnson jointly with his US and Russian counterparts, Mike Pompeo and Sergei Lavrov, signed a declaration marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the world’s most comprehensive nuclear disarmament agreement, the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT), on 1st July 1968, with these three nuclear weapons states as its depositary  powers.
Inter alia, the statement asserts: “The NPT has provided the essential foundation for international efforts to stem the looming threat – then and now – that nuclear weapons would proliferate across the globe… and has limited the risk that the vast devastation of nuclear war would be unleashed…the NPT continues to help create conditions that would be essential for further progress on nuclear disarmament. We remain committed to the ultimate goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons, as set forth in the NPT, and are committed to working together to make the international environment more conducive to such progress.”
(Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of the Depositary Governments for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Washington DC

Article I of the NPT starts with the following commitment on Russia, the US and UK: “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” ( my emphasis)

Extraordinarily, just two days earlier in Washington, the US hosted a bilateral meeting with the UK to  celebrate the 60th anniversary – from July 3, 1958 -  of a hugely significant nuclear defence agreement (commonly called the US–UK Mutual Defense Agreement,(MDA) with defence spelled with an ‘s’ even in the official UK version, hinting at the origin of its drafting).


The US department of energy issued a media release on the MDA, in that declares it “provides for the exchange of defense information relevant to nuclear weapons, naval nuclear propulsion, and nuclear threat reduction.”


Ministry of Defence permanent secretary Stephen Lovegrove said, “the special relationship between Britain and the US is one built on shared values and years of cooperation.”

Julian Kelly, MOD director general nuclear added “Not only does the agreement allow us to work closely together, sharing skills and knowledge, it also allows us to ensure our nations, and our allies, remain ready for any eventuality we may face.”


US National Nuclear Security Administration director Lisa Gordon-Hagerty noted that “the MDA is a cornerstone of our nuclear deterrent.”


In fact, the MDA has allowed the UK to test nuclear warheads in Nevada, and to use blueprints of US warhead designs from Los Alamos to develop British versions for Trident at Aldermaston.
Any normal use of language would say that this activity across several decades is minimally an indirect transfer of a nuclear weapon, and thus in contravention of the very first article of a treaty for which the UK and US are depositary nations, ie supposed to  protect and uphold its integrity!

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