Former UK Commanders Call for Nuclear Cuts to Address Covid-19

An Update from Move the Nuclear Weapons Money Campaign

Three former UK Royal Navy Commanders sent a letter to all UK parliamentarians on April 1 questioning the policy of maintaining a continuous at sea nuclear deterrent.

The commanders note that the £2 billion a year cost of maintaining this nuclear posture and readiness for war appear to be unjustifiable, especially as the economic costs of the coronavirus pandemic are mounting, and while there appears to be no threat of a ‘bolt from the blue’ nuclear attack against the UK, for which the policy is intended to counter.

In addition, the letter questions the decision by parliament to invest even more substantial resources in building new nuclear warheads and the submarines to carry them.

“It is completely unacceptable that the UK continues to spend billions of pounds on deploying and modernizing the Trident Nuclear Weapon System when faced with the threats to health, climate change and world economies that Coronavirus poses,” said Commander Robert Forsyth RN (Ret’d), a former nuclear submariner, signatory to the letter and supporter of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign.

The letter was organized by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and sent to all members of the UK House of Commons, UK House of Lords, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, and Northern Ireland Assembly.

“This pandemic, and the inability of the British government to either prepare for or effectively respond to such an immediate threat to life, demonstrates the twisted priorities at the heart of nuclear weapons spending,’ said Tom Unterrainer, Director of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. “Rather than work to guarantee real security this government prioritizes the acquisition and deployment of weapons of mass murder.”

The signatories to the letter hope that their efforts to question the nuclear ‘Continuous At Sea Deterrent’ will encourage politicians and the wider public to begin to question the morality and the feasibility of nuclear weaponry.

According to Commander Robert Green RN (Ret’d), former nuclear-armed aircraft bombardier-navigator and one of the other co-signers of the letter, ‘Nuclear deterrence is no more than a repulsive, unlawful protection racket used as a counterfeit currency of power, and hugely profitable to the corporate arms industry.’ (Commander Green is also a supporter of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign).

The letter was supported by a number of UK parliamentarians including Rt Hon Ian Blackford MP (SNP Westminster Group Leader), Lord Green of DeddingtonBaroness Sue Miller of Chilthorne Domer and Bill Kidd (Member, Scottish Parliament). Baroness Miller and Mr Kidd are the UK Co-Presidents of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).

“Covid-19 is showing us that humanity’s worst threats- pandemics and climate change are shared globally,’ said Baroness Sue Miller. ‘We should not waste resources on renewing nuclear weapons as we should be using all resources we can in tackling these all too real issues.’

All of the nuclear weapons powers, and those states which are supportive of them, are wasting precious resources on the likes of Trident against the wishes of their peoples, when they should be addressing the real and deadly enemy in the form of COVID19,’ said Bill Kidd MSP, who also serves as the Convenor of the Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Nuclear Disarmament.

With human beings and national economies under genuine threat, it is the duty of governments and parliamentarians to pull back from nuclear war planning and preparation, and to instead cooperate internationally on facing down this deadly pandemic,” concluded Mr Kidd.

Move the Nuclear Weapons Money is an international campaign to:

  • cut nuclear weapons budgets;
  • encourage divestment from companies manufacturing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems;
  • reallocate these budgets and investments to meet economic, social and environmental need – such as ending poverty, protecting the climate, supporting renewable energy, creating jobs, and providing adequate healthcare, housing and education for all.

Find out more here.

This update was sent directly to PeaceWorker editor Peter Bergel on April 3rd.

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