Mr Tobias Ellwood, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), admitted in the House of Commons on December 18 that the UK government has not undertaken any research to determine what the UK’s obligations in international law would be in the event of economic or environmental damage being caused to other countries by radioactive fallout or blast arising from a British nuclear weapon being (a) accidentally detonated or (b) deliberately targeted and the effects spread to a third country.
The statement was made in response to Written Question 218279 asked on December 11 by Paul Flynn MP, a member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), following the Third Conference on Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons held in Vienna on Dec 8-9, 2014.
On December 17, PNND Council Member Jeremy Corbyn, who participated in the Vienna conference, lodged a follow-up Early Day Motion EDM 642, welcoming the Government’s attendance at the Vienna conference, and calling on the Government to publish research on the effect of the detonation of a UK Trident warhead in time for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in April and May 2015.
The Austrian government made a pledge at the closing of the Vienna conference to take forward the conference conclusions to the NPT Review Conference. Austria, in particular, called on states to ‘identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons’ and in particular for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, to ‘determine the next steps for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world.’
The Austrian pledge also recognised the vital role that elected representatives ‘play for advancing the shared objective of a nuclear weapon free world.’ Such actions being taken by parliamentarians were outlined in the PNND statement to the Vienna conference and the statement by the Inter Parliamentary Union.
Parliamentary actions for nuclear abolition were also discussed at the Civil Society Forum on Dec 6-7 and at the parliamentary forum on December 9 hosted by the Austrian Parliament and organized by PNND and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU). Jeremy Corbyn was a keynote speaker at the second of these events.