Moral equivalence and nuclear arsenals

The Guardian, March 17th 2009:

The UK is to push for a new multilateral deal to reduce the number of nuclear weapons stockpiled around the world, Gordon Brown said today, as he pledged that Britain was “ready” to reduce its own number of Trident warheads.

In his first speech on nuclear disarmament since May, Brown said that a new deal to reduce world stockpiles of atomic weapons was close.

“Britain has cut the number of its nuclear warheads by 50% since 1997 … If it is possible to reduce the number of UK warheads further, consistent with our national deterrence requirements and with the progress of multilateral discussions, Britain will be ready to do so,” he said.

We must begin by reducing the number of nuclear weapons still out there in the world … Between them, the US and Russia retain around 95%.”

Arms Control Association December 2008:

The 2007 [Trident renewal] vote authorized British participation in a U.S. plan to extend the life of the Trident D5 missiles to 2042, after which they would retire from service. The United States has so far not provided any guarantees of the compatibility of the new missiles to be developed as replacements for the Tridents with the new submarines that the United Kingdom plans to build.

The Acronym Institute Nuclear Non-Proliferation News February 2009:

Campaigners responded that Miliband’s good intentions [based on the Foreign Office’s new policy paper on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament] are ‘severely undermined‘ by government Trident plans. But, as the Times reports, “Mr Miliband rejected calls that Britain should lead the way by scrapping Trident, its submarine-based nuclear deterrent which is due for renewal at a cost of £20 billion. He wanted talks about multilateral disarmament, he said. ‘If we went down the unilateral road, would Iran say ‘We won’t have ours’? I don’t think the world works like that.’

In essence, Britain’s courageous leadership on nuclear disarmament appears to be “Iran first, we don’t trust them”. This despite Iran not possessing nuclear weapons and the lack of any evidence that it is attempting to develop any. Addressed to a nation that hasn’t invaded another in almost three centuries… by a nation that has invaded and occupied two in the last decade.

Is it really any surprise that politicians and journalists aren’t taken seriously any more when they can’t or won’t acknowledge the army of elephants trampling through the room?

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