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Britain’s international reputation - With more nuclear weapons Britain breaks a solemn treaty agreement

“Instead of a stockpile of no more than 180 warheads by the mid-2020s, the UK will now increase its overall stockpile to no more than 260 warheads.”
Statement found in Integrated Review 2021, House of Commons Library Summary, 17 March 2021.

Setting aside the morality of preparing to carry out the mass annihilation of millions of people, why are we breaking an international treaty agreement which we have honoured for over 50 years? How will other countries regard this action?

The government has responded to criticism by explaining that the increase is not really an increase but it won’t appear like this to other nations. What do you think?

BACKGROUND – Essential points about The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

The UK is a signatory and ratifier for The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.The NPT remains the most widely subscribed to nuclear arms control treaty in history. 190 states have signed the treaty.

Nuclear non-proliferation treaty explained by UN Secretary General 

“The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is an essential pillar of international peace and security, and the heart of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Its unique status is based on its near universal membership, legally-binding obligations on disarmament, verifiable non-proliferation safeguards regime, and commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the NPT’s opening for signature, 24 May 2018, Geneva

A world without nuclear weapons  –  UK government’s website 31 March 2021

“The UK remains committed to the collective long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and supports the full implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in all its aspects. There is no credible alternative route to disarmament.”
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-nuclear-deterrence-factsheet/uk-nuclear-deterrence-what-you-need-to-know

What the The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty says

Under the treaty, the five Nuclear Weapons States commit to pursue general and complete disarmament, while the Non Nuclear Weapons States agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons.

Article VI commits states-parties to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” Acknowledging the necessity of intermediate steps in the process of nuclear disarmament, Article VII allows for the establishment of regional nuclear-weapon-free-zones.

Some key dates in nuclear disarmament

May 22, 2000: The NPT states-parties agree to a final document at the sixth review conference that outlines the so-called 13 steps for progress toward nuclear disarmament, including an “unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”

UK commitment to reduce nuclear strength

June 2011: The United Kingdom announces voluntary planned reductions in its deployed nuclear forces set to be accomplished by early 2015. When complete, the United Kingdom will have no more than 120 deployed strategic warheads, with 60 warheads in reserve to support the maintenance and management of the operational force. All excess warheads will be dismantled by the mid-2020s.

All five nuclear-weapon states’ agreement

May 6, 2014: All five nuclear-weapon states sign the protocol for the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone (CANFWZ) treaty. The CANFWZ applies to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
(CANFWZ – Central Asian Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone)

November 17, 2014: France ratifies the CANFWZ

Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons Conference

December 8-9, 2014: pledge to cooperate to “stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate” nuclear weapons.
A third conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is held in Vienna. The United States and the United Kingdom decide to attend, and China choses to send an observer. Over 150 countries and several international and civil society organizations participate. Over 60 countries sign a pledge to cooperate to “stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate” nuclear weapons.

January 30, 2015: The United Kingdom ratifies the CANFWZ.
Above quotes from Arms Control Association https://www.armscontrol.org

Russians have reduced nuclear weapons

At the height of the Cold War Russia/USSR had about 40 thousand nuclear warheads. Today it has about four thousand warheads.
Source: Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/

David Roberts, www.davidrobertsblog.com   4 May 2021

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