Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Serious questions on the French Nuclear connection 

Does the proposed UK-France ‘defence’ deal breach the nuclear non-proliferation treaty? That is a question we need answered as soon as possible.

The deal also locks us into a 50 year nuclear commitment, on the face of it wrecking the window of opportunity for a nuclear rethink won by the deferment of the Trident renewal.

As I see it, it is not possible under the treaty for a country to buy warheads from a nuclear armed power even if is itself a nuclear armed state. All Nuclear states have to build their own warheads. Joint development procedures need to be very carefully corralled to prevent treaty breaches. We need explanations from the Government as to how this initiative is consistent with our treaty obligations.

The Daily Mail (yes really!) explained some of this way back in 2006 in its expose of the huge expenditures by the (then) Labour government on expanding facilities at AWRE Aldermaston. These expenditures have never properly been explained in any coherent budget.. As an example the Mail said that Costain Construction (contracted to construct new buildings at Aldermaston) told city analysts in 2006 that the contract was worth twelve thousand million pounds over the next 12 years. That’s £1 billion a year still outgoing just for new buildings, never mind the technical stuff. It is not on the defence budget I believe but is hidden elsewhere.

At the minimum, this Coalition should now publish proper accounts for the real costs of our Nuclear development activities. For the first time ever.

The Mail said:

As an extra twist, experts believe that Britain and the U.S. are both looking at new kinds of nuclear bombs, with smaller payloads, which could more easily be used as battlefield "tactical nukes", an option that both governments officially deny considering.

In America, the Bush administration has concluded that new bombs are required, and within the next few weeks Congress is due to decide between two possible designs for a Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).

Once America switches to a new system, Britain will be effectively obliged to do so as well, as our nuclear programme is almost entirely dependent on the U.S.

But because of international nuclear treaties, we can't simply buy the new bombs from the U.S. - we have to make our own.

For the record, a link to a posting outlining my disappointment that our party was suckered into highlighting the ‘Trident’ sideshow instead of dealing with the major issues. Especially the vast costs hidden away from scrutiny. With Ministers in a coalition we don't have any excuses any more.

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