ICAN in the UK Press Release

16 March 2021

SHOCKING EXPANSION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IS TONE DEAF TO THE NEEDS OF BRITISH CITIZENS

16 March 2021

Today’s announcement of a dramatic increase in the UK nuclear arsenal reverses Britain’s longstanding principles and commitments to nonproliferation, disarmament and international security. 

The UK’s Integrated Review, published today, abandons the UK’s previous commitment of a cap of operational nuclear warheads set at 120, and raises the overall cap on the UK’s stockpile from 180 to 260 – an increase of more than 40%. The UK says the move is necessary due to the “evolving security environment” without giving any evidence how more warheads will protect British citizens.

This unwarranted change of direction will be a huge blow to UK allies in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which the UK was a founder member 50 years ago.  The NPT, which is set to meet later this year for a crucial 5 yearly Review Conference, requires the UK and 190 states to work in good faith to prevent proliferation and accomplish the elimination of all nuclear weapons. 

The UK government’s decision to enhance nuclear weapons will also raise global security concerns and strain relations with over 130 states that support the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – a new treaty which makes nuclear weapons illegal under international law and which entered into force in January this year.

This dangerous decision panders to right wing ‘punch above weight’ ideologies that have nothing to do with British security.  It flies in the face of Britain’s genuine security needs and appears ignorant of the widespread and increasing opposition to the UK’s continued possession of nuclear weapons:

  • Scotland’s First Minister and Government are unambiguously committed to the TPNW, seeking to be in a position to join and publicly oppose all aspects of the UK’s nuclear weapons policy including the transportation of lethal warheads between Faslane, Coulport, and Berkshire’s bomb factories, Aldermaston and Burghfield.
  • Major international banks and financial institutions are divesting from nuclear weapons production, informed by ICAN’s “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” campaign
  • Cities across Britain, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Brighton and Hove, Norwich and Leeds, have signed up to support the Treaty’s implementation.  Many more Councils will follow. 
  • Since October, Anglican and Catholic leaders in the UK and a range of Scottish and other UK celebrities have openly endorsed the TPNW and called on the UK government to change its stance.
  • 59% of the UK public think that Britain should sign up to the Treaty, while 77% support a total global nuclear weapons ban, according to new polling by Survation for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Dr Rebecca Johnson, co-coordinator of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) UK partners, said:

“Increasing nuclear weapons will undermine British security when responsible governments around the world are prioritising Covid, cyber threats and the climate emergency. This dangerous nuclear step will become another of Boris Johnson’s reckless and expensive mistakes. It will undermine the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty], alienate Britain’s allies and increase fears that the UK is on a hell bent road to sabotage our future and the collective norms and laws on which our security depends.”

Ben Donaldson, Head of Campaigns at UNA-UK said:

“The Integrated Review’s combination of militarism and hubris is toxic and this decision feels like a move to impress a second Trump administration that never came to pass rather than a responsible step to protect British citizens. We need the UK Government to invest in measures to combat climate change and pandemics, not trigger a dangerous new arms race. It will strain diplomatic relations with over 130 countries who oppose nuclear weapons, it contradicts the UN Secretary-General’s call for accelerated progress on disarmament and it undermines the UK’s claim to be a responsible member of the UN Security Council.”

Janet Fenton, Scottish co-coordinator of ICAN’s UK partners said:

“The UK has now abandoned any pretence of gradual nuclear disarmament for the sake of a provocative and arrogant policy that puts the world and any possibility of addressing the climate emergency at risk. Scotland has a special concern, as the UK’s nuclear weapons are hosted here, despite the clear opposition of the Scottish Government. At Scotland’s May election, voting for candidates who will prioritise nuclear disarmament in Scotland (and, consequently, in the UK as a whole) will be at the top of the agenda.”

Media contact:

hello@nuclearban.co.uk or Dr Rebecca Johnson 07733 360955


Scottish CND Press Release: 16th March 2021 – for immediate use

UK DROPS “STEP-BY-STEP” NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Campaigners have reacted with distress and anger at the news that the UK has decided to increase the number of nuclear bombs it deploys and stockpiles by 40%.

In the last two decades the UK has gradually reduced the number of warheads to around 180, claiming the reduction as a sign of a good intention to fulfil its obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to take genuine steps towards disarmament. Critics have pointed out that reducing the number of nuclear bombs to a point where you are still able to inflict devastation at over a thousand times that unleashed on Hiroshima 75 years ago, and at the same time modernising the system, is not a genuine step towards disarmament.

Now the UK will in fact increase the number of warheads to 260, a move at odds its policy hitherto of claiming to regard the NPT as the “cornerstone” of the global disarmament framework.

Scottish CND Chair Lynn Jamieson said:

What neo-colonial delusions and swaggering machismo goes from building ‘a better Britain’ to investment in more nuclear weapons -good for agonising mass death and poisoning for all living things but nothing else? Forget the old think of ‘deterrence’ the majority world is moving on. Commitment to more nuclear weapons is dangerous nose-thumbing at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which some state actors regard as potentially dovetailing with the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Rather than negotiations towards cessation of the nuclear arms race as the NPT requests, our government is starting its own. The climate emergency, the pandemic and the Brexit catastrophe require a focus on real security achieved by reducing inequalities and working to heal environmental and social harms – nuclear weapons are the antithesis.”

Following this news and as the Scottish parliamentary election looms, the rift between Westminster and the Scottish Government in regard to the UK’s WMD arsenal is set to widen. When the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force as international law on the 22nd of January Scotland’s First Minister said: “While the Scottish Government is unable to become a Party to the Treaty, as First Minister I strongly support the principles of the Treaty and the work of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. An independent Scotland would be a keen signatory and I hope the day we can do that is not far off.”

Contact: Lynn Jamieson 07974 631397 Janet Fenton 07795 594573

banthebomb.org   nuclearban.scot      icanw.org    #NukesAreMyRedLine


UN HOUSE 23rd Jan 21

Entry into Force Showcase coming soon!

The ICAN in the UK Partner Coordinating Team are collating media materials (photos, videos, press releases, etc) that record the events and activities held around the Entry into Force in the UK. This collection will be called the Entry into Force Showcase and will be released soon! In addition to showcasing all of the fantastic work everyone did on and around January 22nd, it will be used to demonstrate the strong, consolidated disarmament effort running through the heart of the UK. Everything from billboards to banners and virtual discos to a virtual lobby of MPs was held to mark the Entry into Force. Ideally you will use this Showcase to rally support, demonstrate the hard work being done, disseminate to the public, raise awareness, and campaigning of all sorts! Thank you to all those that powered through the restrictive winter COVID measures to ensure maintained momentum toward our journey to international disarmament. We look forward to showcasing your hard work!


ICAN in the UK Press Release 22nd January 2021

UN Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons becomes international law on 22 Jan 2021.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force today, three years after being negotiated at the UN General Assembly and 90 days after the 50th country joined the Treaty on 24 October 2020.

The TPNW currently has 51 states parties and an overall supporter-base of at least 130 countries – over two thirds of the international community. The Treaty has the support of the United Nations Secretary-General, who sees it as an “important element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime” as well as the support of global civil society through the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN, 2017 Nobel Prize Winners).

At present the UK Government does not support the Treaty. The UK’s dismissive approach to a Treaty with wide international support will affect the UK’s diplomatic relations as it seeks to build a new reputation under its “Global Britain” mantra.

The Treaty will affect the UK at home too:

Scotland’s First Minister and Government are unambiguously committed to the TPNW, seeking to be in a position to join, and publicly oppose all aspects of the UK’s nuclear weapons policy including the transportation of lethal warheads between Faslane, Coulport, and Berkshire’s bomb factories, Aldermaston and Burghfield.

Major international banks and financial institutions are divesting from nuclear weapons production, informed by ICAN’s “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” campaign.

Cities across Britain, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Brighton and Hove, Norwich and Leeds, have signed up to support the Treaty’s implementation. Many more Councils will follow.

Since October, Anglican and Catholic leaders in the UK and a range of Scottish and other UK celebrities have openly endorsed the TPNW and called on the UK government to change its stance.

59% of the UK public think that Britain should sign up to the Treaty, while 77% support a total global nuclear weapons ban, according to new polling by Survation for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

While observing Covid restrictions, British-based ICAN partners are marking this important milestone in many ways, working with MPs, Mayors and local leaders to raise awareness via billboards, banners, and bell ringing (see here for more details).

Nuclear weapons are dangerous security risks, not assets. They are useless for tackling today’s major threats like the COVID-19, climate and ecological emergencies. Whether intentional or accidental, any nuclear weapons use would have catastrophic and global humanitarian consequences. This cannot be confined to a national debate – the UK has a responsibility to listen to the concerns of the global community.

ICAN UK partners have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge his government to engage constructively with this Treaty. Until such time that the UK is able to join the Treaty, ICAN UK partners have called on the UK to participate in meetings of states parties as an observer and contribute to discussions including on disarmament verification, environmental remediation and victim assistance.

Noting that nuclear weapons continue to be a major security problem, Dr Rebecca Johnson, author of a forthcoming report on the TPNW’s implications for the UK, said,

“This Treaty is an example of UN multilateralism in action. Britain needs to be at the table, taking the next steps towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons.”

Speaking from UN House Scotland, ICAN Steering Group member, Janet Fenton, said:

“Scotland can contribute to international peace rather than being a launch pad for waging nuclear war. The TPNW shows the will of the sane majority of the world, and will ensure our protection under international law if we can accede to the TPNW.”

Ben Donaldson of United Nations Association – UK said:

“The ground is moving under the UK’s feet. This significant new UN treaty will sit alongside the other major global treaty on nuclear weapons, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and drive forward the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are a global threat. Two thirds of countries want urgent action to reduce this threat. The UK has a legal and moral responsibility to act.”

Media contact: hello@nuclearban.co.uk or Dr Rebecca Johnson 07733 360955


Oft in the Stilly Night

As the Nuclear Ban Treaty enters into force here is Brian Quail’s moving tribute to Scottish peace activists who worked for this prize and who are no longer with us.


Scottish Branch Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Media Release 18 January 2021 :

First Minister Endorses the Scottish Women’s Covenant on the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has endorsed the Scottish Women’s Covenant1 on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which promotes the TPNW, which enters into force on 22 January 2021, as the first nuclear disarmament treaty to acknowledge that women are disproportionately affected by nuclear weapons and insists that their voices must be heard within disarmament negotiations

The Covenant, initiated by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom2, is founded on the knowledge that the risks to women’s health and reproductive capacity from ionising radiation are greater than for men, while current power structures mean that women are routinely excluded from nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Nicola Sturgeon said:

I share the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s opposition to nuclear weapons – they are morally, strategically and economically wrong. They are indiscriminate and devastating in their impacts; their use would bring unspeakable humanitarian suffering and widespread environmental damage. The Scottish Government is firmly opposed to the possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons and we are committed to pursuing the safe and the complete withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from Scotland.

While the Scottish Government is unable to become a Party to the Treaty, as First Minister I stronglysupport the principles of the Treaty and the work of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom. An independent Scotland would be a keen signatory and I hope the day we can do that is not far off.

The Scottish Government has called repeatedly on the UK Government to cancel its plans for the Dreadnought Programme (the Trident Successor Programme) as nuclear weapons do not provide a meaningful deterrent to modern day threats such as terrorist attacks, and there are no realistic short or medium-term threats which justify the possession, the costs or the potential use of Trident and its successor.

Women have always played an important role in the opposition to nuclear weapons, and it is vital that women are included when these issues are discussed internationally. The Scottish Government thanks and congratulates all the states which have ratified the Treaty; we look forward to the Treaty coming in to force and will monitor developments with interest.”

In addition to the First Minister, Scottish WILPF’s Covenant has so far been endorsed by Women for Indy, Scottish CND, UN House Scotland, WILPF UK, Scottish members of Sorptomists International, and others, including a number of Scottish MPs and MSPs . The final list of those endorsing on the 22nd January will published and also sent to:

  • Isha Sesay, UNFPA, as Goodwill Ambassador to help the fight against violence against women and girls, who was appointed on the first of this year’s 16 days campaign; 
  • Setsuko Thurlow, as the atomic survivor and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace prize that was awarded to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons for its contribution to the treaty.

Lynn Jamieson, WILPF member and Chair of Scottish CND commented:

“The use and threatened use of nuclear weapons is the ultimate obscenity in gender violence.  The UK habit of justifying nuclear weapons is rooted in the historical conflation of leadership with a chauvinistic masculinity that celebrates dominance through strength and force.  Women can take on this mantle, adopt its arrogant entitlement to threaten and fain blindness to the catastrophic global consequences of a nuclear strike. In Scotland, we are grateful for a first minister whose leadership sees through this to a future without nuclear weapons.” 

Ends

Contacts and source

Janet Fenton 07795 594573 janet@wordsandactions.scot

1 The Covenant: Today (6th December 2020) , on International Human Rights Day and following 2020’s 16 Days Campaign to end Violence against women and girls, The Scottish Branch of WILPF initiates Scottish Women’s Covenant to promote the significance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as the first UN nuclear weapons treaty that recognises the disproportionate impact from nuclear weapons on women and girls, and the special danger that women experience from their manufacture, testing and existence as well as from their testing and use. We urge all Governments to fully commit to joining the TPNW to ensure that women are protected from nuclear weapons use or accident, and to ensuring that women’s voices are head in all negotiations about nuclear weapons policy.

2The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is a non-profit non-governmental organization working “to bring together women of different political views and philosophical and religious backgrounds determined to study and make known the causes of war and work for a permanent peace” and to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation. ww.wilpf.org