UN nuclear disarmament talks

Map of countries who own nuclear weapons (source: TheGreenEditor)

By Lydia Jackson

The UN have been holding nuclear disarmament talks with 123 nations since October when they voted overwhelmingly in favour of beginning talks for a treaty, all of whom favour the measure.

The UK, however, has refused to send any representative. The UK, France, Russia and Israel have opposed the nuclear disarmament measures, however, the government has been called “reckless and irresponsible” after refusing to attend the meeting.

It was revealed by the Foreign Office that there was no UK representative present at the negotiations in February and nor would anyone go to the discussions when they take place later this month.

In a parliamentary question by Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas stated that she believed this incident demonstrated the Government to be “massively hypocritical” as well as failing in its commitment to work towards a world that does not rely on nuclear weapons.

She went on to state, that she did not “think [the government is] taking nuclear disarmament seriously and it’s hugely reckless and irresponsible.”

Ms Lucas has added that whenever ministers are asked to get rid of Trident, which is currently the UK’s nuclear weapons system, they “always say we’re not going to because it’s unilateral”.

However, the Brighton MP has now raised an interesting point, reminding the government that there is now an “opportunity to have a multinational set of negotiations” to which the government are “not even bothering to turn up”.

The talks may not immediately produce an outright ban of nuclear weapons, they are still an important step towards reducing the amount of nuclear weapons worldwide.

The latest development has seen Ms Lucas apply to the Backbench Business Committee to gain parliamentary time specifically allocated to debating the issue surrounding this and whether or not the UK should have been represented at the UN talks.

Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has stated that “the UK did not participate on the organisational meeting on negotiating a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons on 16 February and will not attend the substantive negotiations starting on the 27 March.”

He continued: “we do not believe these negotiations will lead to effective progress on nuclear disarmament. The best way to achieve this goal is through gradual multilateral disarmament and within existing international frameworks”.

It is clear that the government do not intend to pursue this treaty with the UN, however, what remains to be seen is the effect of this decision.

With the UK already leaving the EU and now opposing the latest organisational treaty proposed and being negotiated by the UN, it may appear to most that the UK is trying to ostracise itself from the international community.

The fallout from this latest scandal remains to be seen.