Jeremy Corbyn,the new leader of the UK Labour Party, has ignited a public debate in the UK – and around the world – on the morality of using nuclear weapons.
Corbyn, who Co-Chairs the UK Section of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), has rocked the UK establishment, and also the Labour Party, by stating categorically that if he becomes Prime Minister following the 2020 UK election, he would instruct the UK’s defence chiefs never to use the Trident nuclear weapons system. Corbyn made his statement in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 30 September in which he said he had a mandate from his election to oppose the replacement of Trident and the use of nuclear weapons. He said: “I am opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. I am opposed to the holding of nuclear weapons. I want to see a nuclear-free world. I believe it is possible.”
“There are five declared nuclear weapon states in the world. There are three others that have nuclear weapons. That is eight countries out of 192; one hundred and eighty-seven countries do not feel the need to have nuclear weapons to protect their security. Why should those five need them to protect their security? We are not in the cold war any more.”
“I don’t think we should be spending £100bn on renewing Trident. That is a quarter of our defence budget. There are many in the military that do not want Trident renewed because they see it as an obsolete thing thing they don’t need. They would much rather see it spent on conventional weapons.”
Corbyn’s statement that he would not use nuclear weapons if he becomes Prime Minister, has pushed the current UK Prime Minister to answer the question – would he use nuclear weapons – to which he answered ‘yes’.
Cameron told Andrew Marr on BBC1’s Sunday morning politics programme: “If you … believe like me that Britain should keep the ultimate insurance policy of an independent nuclear deterrent, you have to accept there are circumstances in which its use would be justified … If you give any other answer then you are, frankly, undermining our national security, undermining our deterrent.”
So Cameron would be prepared to annihilate innocent civilians, create catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences, and spend billions of pounds to maintain an nuclear arsenal to do this, in defence of some unproven strategy held by a minority of States in the world.
The power of Corbyn’s stand is that it peels away the veneer of defence and security behind which leaders of nuclear weapon States hide. Now they have to come clean – would they authorise use of such weapon causing such horrific and unprecedented suffering and destruction?
PNND members like Corbyn have been highlighting the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and challenging, nuclear deterrence in the nuclear armed States and their allies. See Consequences of a nuclear blast or blasts: Taking the debate to the capitals.
PNND this week holds its annual assembly in Prague, the place where President Obama put forward the vision for a nuclear-weapon-free world, but has been unable to deliver on this vision. Parliamentarians from around the world will participate.
One of the keynote speakers will be Karipbek Kuyukov, a second generation victim of nuclear weapons testing and the Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM project which highlights the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons as an imperative for their abolition.
The PNND Assembly is hosted by the Czech Senate and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For more information see http://pragueagenda.iir.cz/