Campaigners Reclaim UK Nuke Base for Peace on Anniversary of Nuke Ban Treaty
On the second anniversary of the day that the United Nations agreed to ban the bomb Trident Ploughshares, in order to challenge Faslane’s legitimacy and highlight the progress that has been made since a huge majority of the world’s states took the ban decision, used spray paint to re-decorate the main entrance of the base for peace and blocked the the base’s other entrance.
Their aim was to remind the public and those working in the base that most governments now agree that nuclear weapons must be prohibited and eliminated and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that was adopted at the UN aims to do just that. While the nuclear-armed states may not agree, they will have to come to terms somehow with the impact that the TPNW is already having because the ban prohibits any nuclear sharing, testing and development as well as use.
Trident Ploughshares is one of 400 partner organisations in ICAN – the worldwide campaign that worked to get the treaty adopted. Others partner organisations in Scotland share the commitment that nuclear weapons need to be removed not only from Scotland but from the world and the Scottish government is supportive. Since the TPNW opened for signature 24 out of the required 50 member states have already put the treaty through their national legislation and ratified it and around 20 more are actively working towards that. The number who have taken the initial action of signing the treaty is in excess of the number required.
The group had time to paint “Banned 7/7/17” and “Nae Nukes Anywhere” on the notice boards and “Scrap” and “Redundant” on the gate to the base, and also covered the roadway with slogans referring to the Ban Treaty. Eventually the MoD police arrived and arrested the three painters, Eoin McCarthy, Janet Fenton, Gillean Lawrence, charging them with vandalism. They were taken to Greenock police station and released shortly afterwards. Meanwhile Brian Quail from Glasgow and Willemien Hoogendoorn, from Faslane Peace Camp, were able to hold up base traffic by blocking the base’s south gate.
Janet Fenton, Vice-Chair of Scottish CND, who participated in the Treaty negotiations at the UN, said:
“This is a real treaty that represents the global view of nuclear weapons in the light of the very real danger of burning up our planet and destroying all life. At a time when Scotland is in tune with a mature trans-national view it was necessary to re-name the base at Faslane for the redundant anachronism that it is.”
Gillean Lawrence said:
“The Scottish government could be more assertive in publicising the ban treaty, especially since the First Minister and most parliamentarians support it – a first step to getting rid of nuclear weapons from Scotland. Scotland’s police and courts should be active in tackling this crime instead of arresting and convicting protesters.”
Eoin McCarthy said:
“On the 2nd anniversary of the TPNW , after 122 countries voted to adopt it, and Extinction Rebellion has brought the climate crisis to public attention, Scotland wants to bin the bomb more than ever.”
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted by overwhelming vote at the UN in July 2107.Prior to the Treaty’s adoption, nuclear weapons, though clearly illegal by the basic principles of international humanitarian law, were the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to a comprehensive ban, despite their catastrophic, widespread and persistent humanitarian and environmental consequences. The new agreement fills a significant gap in international law. The TPNW prohibits signatory nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities. A nation that possesses nuclear weapons may join the treaty, so long as it agrees to destroy them in accordance with a legally binding, time-bound plan. Similarly, a nation that hosts another nation’s nuclear weapons on its territory may join, so long as it agrees to remove them by a specified deadline. The Treaty also deals with the disproportionate effect of ionised radiation on women and girls. Indeed, the whole ethos of the Treaty’s development is seen as a unique step forward in global disarmament with the voices of women prominent in the civil society and diplomatic contributions to its progress, in contrast to the conventional male-dominated discourse around security.
To enter into force the Treaty requires ratification by 50 states. So far 24 states have ratified, but 70 have already signed it, which is a preliminary to the more complex and slower process of ratification by national legislatures.
The “P5” nuclear-weapon states (US, UK, China, Russia and France) are critical of the Treaty and claim it will destabilise global security. The US, with the UK as a compliant partner, is applying background pressure on non-nuclear states not to sign and ratify the Treaty. In its leaked communication to NATO states in advance of the adoption of the Treaty the US urged a vote against adoption on the grounds of the potential effectiveness of the Treaty to critically hamper the “extended nuclear deterrence” it claims to provide.
Scotland is in the almost unique position of being a significant and distinct part of a Nuclear-armed states which opposes the nuclear weapon policy of that state. As well as the public and civil society backing for the anti-nuclear stance the majority of Scottish parliamentarians have expressed their support for the TPNW by signing the Parliamentary Pledgepromoted by the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). If Scotland becomes independent and continues to wish to be rid of the UK’s nuclear weapons it will, as a party to the Treaty, have additional legal backing in arranging their removal. It is widely acknowledged that in such a scenario the UK would not be able to find a replacement for the Faslane/Coulport complex and so continuing with sea-based ICBMs would not be feasible.