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ORG Submission to Lib Dems Policy Consultation on Nuclear Weapons

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Tim Street
4 November 2016

Oxford Research Group’s Sustainable Security Programme (SSP) recently submitted evidence to the Liberal Democrat’s Policy Consultation on Nuclear Weapons, which is designed to help the party develop a new policy on nuclear weapons. ORG’s submission focused on the need for the UK to move towards a more responsible approach:

“moving away from using force in illegitimate, illegal and immoral ways and making progress on conventional and nuclear disarmament, nationally and internationally. Nuclear and other offensive forms of power would thus gradually be replaced by less destructive, defensive capabilities.”

This work forms a key part of SSP’s flagship project: Rethinking UK Defence and Security Policies, through which we engage with all major political parties, as well as government, military, academia and civil society.

In responding to the specific questions asked by the policy consultation, our submission covers several areas, in order to:

  • highlight the costs and risks of a range of options surrounding the planned replacement of the UK’s nuclear weapons programme, including a ‘virtual’ nuclear arsenal and full disarmament.
  • examine how the UK could act to fulfil its dual international disarmament obligations - i.e. to eliminate its nuclear weapons and help create a nuclear weapons-free world.
  • review the impact of potential changes to the UK’s nuclear arsenal, including disarmament, on jobs and communities.
  • consider how the UK can act responsibly to reduce tensions between Russia and NATO and contribute to international diplomacy on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including efforts to ban nuclear weapons.

In relation to the latter issue, the submission concluded:

“As the [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] makes clear, the elimination of nuclear weapons and the achievement of general and complete disarmament will be facilitated by ‘the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between States’. This should lead the UK—both as [a nuclear weapons state] and a permanent member of the UN Security Council—to consider how it may act responsibly, both enabling nuclear possessors to move towards disarmament and reducing the incentives for others to seek non-conventional deterrents. Adopting truly progressive policies capable of fostering international cooperation would require the UK to develop an understanding of other state’s threat perceptions. … This should lead British decision-makers to consider carefully the legal and political consequences of overseas power projection and ensure that their actions square with international law and the UN Charter.”

ORG actively engages with all British political parties in order to promote a more sustainable approach to policy-making on security issues. Please see also SSP’s submissions to the 2016 Labour Defence Policy Review and its work on the government’s 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Image by U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Tim Street is Senior Programme Officer on the Sustainable Security programme at ORG and has worked for many years on the politics of nuclear disarmament and the arms trade. These briefings are circulated free of charge for non-profit use, but please consider making a donation to ORG, if you are able to do so.

Copyright Oxford Research Group 2016.

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Our publications are circulated free of charge for non-profit use, but please consider making a donation to ORG, if you are able to do so.