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UK & World

UK votes against UN committee’s moves to outlaw nuclear weapons

October 28 2016

The United Kingdom has rejected a resolution at the United Nations to hold a global summit on eradicating nuclear weapons despite the motion winning support from over 120 other nations. Along with the United States, Russia, Israel and France, the UK voted against the resolution raised by the UN's disarmament and international security committee, but overwhelming support elsewhere means it will now go before the General Assembly. The Government said it was committed to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, but supported gradual multilateral disarmament within "existing international frameworks". Pro-disarmament campaigners accused the Government of attempting to "thwart" vital negotiations and questioned why, with the cost of renewing Britain's nuclear defences costing "£205 billion" it opposed a "clear and concrete" disarmament plan. A total of 123 nations voted in favour of the resolution while 38 opposed it and 16 abstained. The resolution aims to set up a conference in March to negotiate a "legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination". Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa were among countries to support the resolution, but the Foreign Office said it did not support the proposed talks. A spokesman said: "The UK is committed to a world without nuclear weapons, in line with our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. "The UK voted against the resolution at the UN General Assembly First Committee as we do not believe that the negotiations it mandates will lead to progress on global nuclear disarmament. "We firmly believe that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament negotiated using a step-by-step approach and within existing international frameworks." The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said the negotiations could follow in a similar vein to past efforts that saw the banning of biological and chemical weapons, land mines and cluster bombs and urged the Government to reconsider. Kate Hudson, the group's general secretary, said: "[It's] very disappointing to see the British government attempt to thwart these vital negotiations. "The Government that has begun replacing Trident, Britain's own nuclear weapons system, at a cost of £205 billion, has repeatedly said it supports a multilateral approach to global abolition. So why is it opposing what is now before us: a clear and concrete multilateral plan? "We urge the British Government to rethink its approach, to support and participate in the UN conference in 2017 that will explore steps towards a global nuclear ban."


Anti-bomb protesters stage Walk Up The Law

August 7 2013

The Tayside Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament staged its annual Walk Up The Law to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tuesday was the 68th anniversary of the US dropping an atomic bomb on the Japanese city to end the Second World War. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Tayside CND said by 1950 more than 340,000 people had died as a result of the bombings but today the UK plans to replace its nuclear weapons, which are many times more powerful than the first A-bombs. Member Edith Constable said supporters have been participating in the walk up the landmark for 32 years and many have been campaigning for nuclear disarmament since the 1960s.

Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Neil Findlay convinced unilateral nuclear disarmament campaign will win Trident debate

October 8 2015

Jeremy Corbyn's closest ally in Scotland has said he is "absolutely convinced" those in favour of unilateral UK nuclear disarmament will win the argument. Labour MSP Neil Findlay clashed with party colleague Jackie Baillie at Holyrood today over the best tactics to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Two other Labour MSPs, Malcolm Chisholm and Elaine Smith, signed an SNP motion opposing the renewal of Trident - in a foretaste of the wider debate expected at the Scottish Labour Party conference later this month. Mr Findlay, Mr Corbyn and Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray favour unilateral UK disarmament in the hope it will convince other countries to follow suit, but they are at odds with Labour's multilateralist support for Trident renewal. UK Labour reaffirmed its support for Trident at its conference last month but Mr Corbyn caused confusion by admitting he would never launch a nuclear attack. Scottish Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown, a former marine, said it is "deeply immoral" for Labour to advocate spending £100 billion on weapons it would not use. Ms Baillie insists scrapping the Faslane nuclear submarine base would cost 11,300 jobs and affect many of her West Dunbartonshire constituents. But Mr Brown said the constituency's backing for Scottish independence and overwhelming rejection of Labour at the general election suggest her constituents disagree with her. Mr Findlay said: "I oppose nuclear weapons and I oppose the renewal of Trident. "I appeal to those who want to see the world rid of nuclear weapons whether they are unilateralists or multilateralists - after all we are all on the same side but we simply disagree on tactics - to work together to further develop a credible and serious defence diversification plan and strategy." He added: "If we do that and take forward this argument and win it - I am absolutely convinced we will win it - we need to build that alliance to take the argument across society and across the political divide in order to eradicate these weapons from the world." Ms Baillie said: "I believe in multilateral nuclear disarmament, and I don't think anybody in this chamber or indeed outwith it would want to see nuclear weapons being used. "I want all nations to give up nuclear weapons and my ambition, and I know it is one that is shared across this chamber, is actually to achieve global zero. "Whilst I absolutely respect the position of unilateralists, I don't believe that that action alone will trigger other nations to reduce their weapons." Ms Baillie said "even the dogs in the street in my community know" the size of the job losses that the closure of Faslane would bring. Mr Brown said: "Jackie Baillie says everybody knows the benefits of her argument including the dogs in the street. "The SNP MP Martin Docherty got around a 10,000 majority in her area at the general election. "Her area voted Yes to independence. I think the arguments about nuclear weapons were very prominent in those campaigns." He added: "I would condemn the Labour Party's current position which is to say we would spend £100 billion on nuclear weapons and not use them - that is deeply immoral." SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, who lodged the motion to scrap Trident, said: "Three members of the opposition benches - Neil Findlay, Elaine Smith and Malcolm Chisholm - have signed this motion because they too want to see investment in people instead of weapons of mass destruction. "I have to commend them all for their integrity and their willingness to rise above the political mudslinging that remains at the background of this debate."


Labour condemned over nuclear stance

September 26 2016

Anti-nuclear campaigners have condemned Labour after the shadow defence secretary restated the party's support for Trident renewal, despite Jeremy Corbyn's opposition. Clive Lewis admitted he was "sceptical" about the programme to replace the ageing submarines carrying the nuclear deterrent but Labour's policy was "clear". The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), whose vice-president is Mr Corbyn, said Mr Lewis's comments would cause "huge disappointment" and meant the party had "abandoned" its review of defence policy. The Trident issue has caused a deep rift within Labour, with the review aimed at addressing the difference between Mr Corbyn's commitment to scrapping the deterrent and the party's existing policy of supporting its renewal. Mr Lewis told the conference: "As you know, I am sceptical about Trident renewal, as are many here. "But I am clear that our party has a policy for Trident renewal." He warned Theresa May was using the issue as a "political weapon aimed at her party's opposition at home - us", adding: "So let's not make ourselves an easy target." MPs voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to renew the UK's nuclear deterrent system and Mr Corbyn was angrily condemned by some of his own MPs for opposing Trident. Mr Lewis abstained on the vote, dismissing it as "parliamentary pantomime" designed simply to cause difficulties for Labour. At the gathering in Liverpool both Mr Lewis and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry stressed Labour's commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament. But CND claimed the shadow defence secretary's speech at the Labour conference in Liverpool meant the party was now "supporting nuclear rearmament". The Huffington Post reported Mr Lewis intended to go further in his speech, with a pledge not to unpick party policy, but a senior aide to Mr Corbyn advised him to remove the reference. Mr Lewis insisted there was no issue with the leadership, telling the Press Association: "All speeches have amendments and changes. Where it starts out and where it ends up is always going to be a process of change." The shadow defence secretary said he was "very happy" with the version of the speech he delivered. CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: "Clive Lewis has stated this morning that Labour will now prioritise support for multilateral disarmament initiatives. All well and good but what use is that if Labour fails to oppose Trident replacement? "How can Labour claim to work for multilateral disarmament if it supports the Government building a new nuclear weapons system at a cost of £205 billion? This means Labour is supporting nuclear rearmament. "Lewis has clearly signalled that the Labour leadership will not seek to change Labour policy and appears to have abandoned its defence review conducted extensively over the past year. The majority of Labour members oppose Trident replacement, so where is the democracy in that? "Lewis made it clear that this was a decision designed to avoid political attack by the Prime Minister - but it has merely handed Theresa May support for one of her most controversial projects. "There is enormous opposition to Trident replacement within the Labour Party and there will be huge disappointment at this U-turn by Clive Lewis."


Scottish Labour deputy leader calls for referendum on Trident renewal

August 22 2015

The new deputy leader of Scottish Labour has suggested a referendum should be held on whether Britain renews the Trident nuclear weapons system. Alex Rowley, who was elected as Kezia Dugdale's deputy last Saturday, called for a wide-ranging debate on the issue and said he did not believe the case had been made for renewal. On the Clyde-based deterrent, the former Fife Council leadertold The Herald newspaper: "It is a military issue, with serious question marks over whether it is the best way to defend the country, but it is also a moral issue. "On such a massive issue, there should be debate across the party, the country, and a referendum. "I have not seen the case made as to why we would renew, but the most striking thing is a complete lack of debate." On Friday, the First Minister became the latest high-profile figure to sign a statement calling for plans to replace Trident to be cancelled. Nicola Sturgeon added her name to the Rethink Trident statement, which has been organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Compass. The statement says the country can "ill-afford to be spending in excess of £100 billion on replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons". Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has also signed the statement. Mr Rowley said the veteran left winger would make a "first class" boss of the UK party. He told the newspaper: "I have no fears whatsoever that if the Labour membership elect him, he wouldn't be a first class leader." The Scottish Conservatives' deputy leader, Jackson Carlaw, said: "Week one of Scottish Labour take seven, and it is threatening to increase taxes and is now planning to put our nuclear deterrent at risk. "Who needs Jeremy Corbyn when Scottish Labour chiefs like Alex Rowley are already stampeding back to the 1970s all on their own? "These are not the priorities that Scottish voters want. We need a centre ground Scottish alternative to the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives are determined to provide it." SNP MSP Bill Kidd, co-president of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, said: “I very much welcome Alex’s rethink onTrident - he joins a coalition of voices from across politics, civic Scotlandand military experts calling on the UK Government to abandon its plan to waste£100 billion on replacing these morally abhorrent nuclear weapons. “I hope now that Alex will join the First Minister in signing CND’s Rethink Trident statement. With Labour’s support, Scotland could speak with one voice on this issue and form a powerful collective voice against spending billions on obscene weapons of mass destruction.”


Scottish Government reiterates nuclear weapons opposition on Hiroshima anniversary

August 6 2015

The Scottish Government has restated its opposition to nuclear weapons on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop stressed ministers were "firmly committed to worldwide disarmament". Nuclear weapons were used for the first time when the US dropped a bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6 1945. Three days later, another was used on Nagasaki. The two attacks, which took place towards the end of the Second World War, remain the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare. Ms Hyslop, who visited Nagasaki last month during a trip to Japan, will scatter flower petals on a pond outside the Scottish Parliament in an act of remembrance. She said: "Just over a month ago, I stood at the hypocentre of the explosion in Nagasaki. "Even standing beside the physical scars, it is impossible to imagine the destructive power of a nuclear bomb. "The shadows of men, women and even children marked the city, memories of ordinary innocent lives burnt into rock. "Why anyone would consider this to be an appropriate response today is equally hard to imagine. "My thoughts today are with the generations of Japanese people who have had to come to terms with the horrific effects of nuclear weapons. "I admire greatly the compassion they have shown in moving forward. My visit to Nagasaki left me profoundly saddened and in no doubt about the horror of nuclear weapons." She added: "Scotland stands with Japan on the issue of nuclear disarmament. We oppose the continuation and the proposed renewal of the UK's Trident nuclear weapon system, and the Scottish Government is firmly committed to worldwide disarmament. "We strongly believe that the way forward is to create the conditions for peace through dialogue as well as action. "The successor Trident system is estimated to cost a staggering £100 billion over its lifetime - money that could be far better spent on initiatives to support our people and our economy. As a nation, Scotland opposes nuclear weapons. "Both the Scottish Parliament and the overwhelming majority of Scottish MPs are opposed to its replacement, it's time the UK Government listened to what the people are saying." More than 20 events are taking place throughout Scotland to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombings. As part of the commemorations, Trident Ploughshares activists are planning to fast from Thursday through to Sunday.

UK & World

South Korea hails Kim Jong Un’s move to dismantle nuclear test site

May 14 2018

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has welcomed North Korea’s decision to dismantle its nuclear test site, calling it a start to its nuclear disarmament.North Korea announced on Saturday that it will dismantle its northeastern Punggye-ri test site between May 23 and 25 in the presence of local and international media.US President Donald Trump hailed the move as a “gracious gesture” before he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 for talks expected to focus on the North’s nuclear programme.Mr Moon said on Monday that the North’s decision shows how sincere the country is about making the talks a success.Some experts still doubt how committed Mr Kim is to taking serious disarmament steps.


Labour MP claims Trident questions were not answered by ministers

June 2 2016

The Government has failed to answer major questions about the replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent and there has been a "disturbing silence" about the UK's commitment to multilateral disarmament, Emily Thornberry has said. The shadow defence secretary, who is leading a review of Labour's policy on the issue, questioned the cost and effectiveness of the planned replacement for the submarines carrying the Trident missiles and said people on "the other side" of the debate had to make the case for renewal. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn backs unilateral disarmament and Ms Thornberry has said she is sceptical about Trident, but many of the party's MPs and the trade unions support the renewal programme. In a speech to defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, Ms Thornberry posed a series of questions for "the Government and those on the other side of this debate" to answer. She said: "What is the current operational requirement? What uses will it have, and what challenges might it face, in the future operational environment? What is the total cost of bringing it into operation? Are there more cost-effective alternatives? "And, always most important, do the benefits outweigh the costs? "To my mind, none of these questions have been fully answered. And if not, how can we determine whether the case has been made?" She said the costs of manufacturing the boats to replace the ageing Vanguard fleet had been put at £41 billion but there was "only silence" on the expense of the warheads, maintenance and infrastructure. Ms Thornberry also claimed ministers had "deserted" their duty to the cause of multilateral disarmament. In a speech highlighting commitments to multilateral disarmament from key figures in Labour history including Harold Wilson and Aneurin Bevan, she said: "While there are many other equally difficult problems also now facing mankind, like climate change, terrorism, global poverty and the state of the world economy, huge attention is being paid to each of those while almost none is being paid to the issue of disarmament." She argued that as an original signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, the UK had a "particular obligation" to respect it and ensure that others do the same. "But under this government, that duty has been deserted. That is why we hear the growing frustration of the majority of the world's countries with the inertia on nuclear disarmament from countries like our own."


Labour conference: Corbyn repeats opposition to renewing Trident

September 29 2015

Jeremy Corbyn has signalled he is ready for a showdown with Labour MPs over the country's nuclear deterrent by stressing his landslide leadership win gave a "mandate" for his views on disarmament. The Labour leader used his first keynote conference speech to publicly restate his view that spending £100 billion on replacing the Trident weapons system is misguided. Mr Corbyn said the policy on Trident would be developed through a review, but the reference to the scale of his victory in the leadership contest will be seen as a sign that he thinks the members and supporters who voted for him support his position. He won the leadership race this month with more than 250,000 votes and a 60% share, while closest rival Andy Burnham secured the backing of just 19%. Mr Corbyn said: "There is one thing I want to make my own position on absolutely clear, and I believe I have a mandate from my election on it. "I don't believe that £100 billion spent on a new generation of nuclear weapons taking up a quarter of our defence budget is the right way forward. "I believe Britain should honour our obligations under the non-proliferation treaty and lead in making progress on international nuclear disarmament. "But in developing our policy through the review we must make sure that all the jobs and skills of everyone in every aspect of the defence industry are fully protected and fully utilised so that we gain from this, we don't lose from this." Shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle, who is in favour of retaining the UK's nuclear deterrent, will lead a review on delivering "strong, modern effective protection for the people of Britain", he said. Mr Corbyn's stance was greeted with applause in the hall, but reporters watching the speech in Brighton noted that the majority of members of the shadow cabinet did not join in as the leader issued his defiant comments about Trident. On the eve of his most high-profile speech, Mr Corbyn sent a message to a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament rally at the Brighton gathering saying he was as "committed as ever" to the cause. But he suffered a blow to his authority at the gathering as the conference rejected having a debate on the future of Trident, meaning the issue will not be voted on by delegates.