Category Archives: Defence and nuclear weapons

Mass surveillance is not the only thing where Govt wants minimum scrutiny: same with nuclear

Recent FoI requests have revealed increasingly close US-UK collaboration over the design of nuclear warheads.   A document which has come to light prepared for a US senator visiting the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment talks of enhanced collaboration on “nuclear explosive package design and certification” as well as on “maintenance of existing stockpiles” and the “possible development of safer, more secure warheads”.   The document shows that at about this time, if it hasn’t already taken place, a pact will be signed drawn up by senior officials from the US-UK which increases cooperation on warhead design and the exchange of material crucial for the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.   But it will not be debated or voted on in Parliament.   Indeed the government’s wish is that this forging of increasing strategic links with the US over nuclear warheads should happen as unobtrusively as possible, preferably with no reference being made to it at all.
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So what is Chilcot going to tell us that we don’t already know?

What we already know is damning enough.   The UK went to war over Iraq because Bush wanted British support, and at the Crawford summit in April 2002, 11 months before the war started, Blair in effect committed to providing that, though the exact terms of that surrender to Bush still remain secret.   The rationale for war however was not easy to find.   Bush initially favoured saying Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the 9/11 attack, but there was no evidence for that whatsoever.   So B;air settled on finding proof of large-scale activity by Iraq in WMD.   However, since the UN inspectors left in 1998, the evidence was almost non-existent.   The case put together for the ‘dodgy dossier’ in September 2002 was deeply flawed.   The inventory of chemical and biological weapon parts which Blair presented to the Commons was weapons ‘unaccounted for’ after the first Gulf War 12 years before, but they were presented as weapons currently possessed by Saddam.   The 45-minute claim referred to battlefield nuclear weapons, but when it was reported (perhaps on deliberate advice) as a much wider threat, no attempt was made to correct the mistake.
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There are big lessons to be learnt from the Iran deal

The US-Iran agreement, albeit temporary, may well be the diplomatic coup of the decade, or indeed the biggest peaceful shifting of the tectonic plates since the last World War in the most dangerous area on the planet.   But it is as well, for future reference, to identify the specific mechanisms which allowed this breakthrough to proceed.     First, it came about because sanctions were applied to Iran which seriously threatened the political and economic stability of the country.   These pressures had caused Iran’s currency to halve in value against the US dollar in the last 2 years, its foreign exchange holdings in excess of $50bn to be frozen, and crucially its oil revenues to be cut by more than half.   Restrictions had been placed on Iran’s trade in gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts which cumulatively took their toll.

Second, the lessons from the Bush era have been learnt and should continue to be borne in mind in future.   Bush started two wars, neither of which the US won, whereas here war has been averted which could have consumed the whole of the Middle East in a regional conflagration.   And it is worth noting that if Miliband hadn’t rejected the government’s determined intention to back a US missile strike against Syria, it would almost certainly have happened, which would have ended any rapprochement with Iran for at least a decade.   Equally it has deflected Netanyahu’s trigger-happy readiness to launch a pre-emptive attack on any challenger in the region to Israel’s self-ascribed right to a nuclear monopoly.   Dogged, lengthy, painstaking diplomacy has been given a chance and it has worked, warmongers should note.
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Trident: Labour must make the arguments for rejection

Hammond’s jumping the gun by pledging a £350m contract to signal the Tories’ embrace of a Trident replacement should be met by a resolute pronouncement from Labour that neither the arguments nor the figures stand up to any serious scrutiny.   At the present time the biggest danger we face is the threat of terrorism on our mainland, and against that nuclear weapons are useless.   The only basic argument used by the government to justify the Trident replacement is that we may face at some point in the future either ‘rogue’ states or a re-emerging nuclear Russia or a nuclear-armed superpower such as China.   There are three strong counter-arguments to that which profoundly undermine it plus a very strong opposing argument.
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