26 Jul 2008

Trident: Labour misled parliament

warhead-parliament.jpgWhile we are on nukes - see last blog - I have to mention my anger at news that Ministry of Defence documents obtained by CND reveal the Government plans to replace Britain's nuclear warheads, despite Ministers repeatedly telling MPs that no decision would be taken until after the next election.

The shocking revelation came to light in a private speech to arms industry executives by a senior defence official. Whilst the Commons voted last year to replace the submarines that carry the UK's nuclear warheads on Trident missiles, the revelation that officials have been secretly telling the arms industry that the warheads will be replaced suggests that Parliament has been misled.

Words almost fail me - what does this Labour Government take us for? Where has democracy gone? While I have huge respect for David Drew who has opposed Trident's renewal I find it very hard to understand how he can remain a supporter of this Government? The Ministry of Defence has since denied it has agreed to spend £3bn on new nuclear warheads yet the documents clearly reveal a senior official told the arms industry a decision had already been made. And £3bn!!!! Think of what could be done to tackle climate change and fuel poverty with that....

Kate Hudson, Chair of CND, said: "Staffing at the Atomic Weapons Establishment has grown by a third in the last five years, with billions spent on new facilities, yet throughout this the Government has been telling MPs and the public that it would be years before any decision was needed. It is a disgrace that the MoD is secretly telling the defence industry one thing, whilst Ministers are saying quite the opposite to Parliament."

Anyhow talking of nukes - regular blog readers will know I have had contact from hunger strikers protesting in Prague at support for the US defence shield...see more here and here below is an update from CND:

On a recent visit to Prague, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a treaty agreeing a US Missile Defence radar base in the Czech Republic. However the Treaty will be subject to ratification in the Czech Parliament after the Summer, with the government only able to rely on 100 of the 200 seats. However of those 100, six are members of the Green Party who want to wait until the US elects a new President.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has recently met with US under-secretary of State, Daniel Fried in Warsaw for more talks on the US Missile Defence system.

Recently a transcript of a heated discussion between the President Kaczynski and Foreign Minister Sikorski appeared in a Polish newspaper, where Kaczynski accused the government of holding secret talks with Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. Kaczynski believes that the tough stand the government is taking over the shield is a delaying tactic until after George Bush steps down as president. Negotiations have yet to be concluded as, according to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, his government is not convinced that the terms of the deal will make Poland more secure. Among other requests, Warsaw is demanding the permanent stationing of Patriot missiles in Poland. Despite recent speculation it has been denied by a spokesperson of Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus that Lithuania had agreed to have elements of the U.S. missile defence system deployed on its territory after talks stalled between Washington and Warsaw last month.

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