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Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent) (Lab): The Government's opposition to weapons of mass destruction was given as the reason for going to war with Iraq. Those weapons did not exist in Iraq, but they exist in Israel, and not only does Israel have weapons of mass destruction; it has the ultimate weapon of mass destructionnuclear weapons. Indeed, it has 200 nuclear warheads. However, there is no talk, and quite rightly so, of any kind of war with Israel, partly, one would have thought, because of its weapons of mass destruction, partly because it daily invades its neighbour, Palestine, and partly because it daily treats UN resolutions with contempt. Obviously, our Government are selective in their opposition to weapons of mass destruction: they are okay as far as Israel is concerned, but they are certainly not okay as far as Iraq is concerned.
The threat of weapons of mass destruction, and in particular of atomic and nuclear weapons, has been with us since 1945, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the tragedy that went with that and the tragedy that followed it, with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians and, probably, a similar number of injuries. On some of the anniversaries of those bombings a message has come from the Japanese people: "Step back and learn from us." Sadly, we have failed to act on that message, which the Japanese people wanted to be not only heard but acted on.
Sadly, too, the Government are refusing to support some of the peacemakers, the people who have had the good sense and the courage to warn of nuclear proliferation and its threat to this planet. In particular I think of Mordechai Vanunu, who for the past 18 years has been rotting away in an Israeli jail. His crime, if crime is the right word, and it certainly is not, was telling the truth about Israel's nuclear capability when all around him were lying.
We are also selective in our opposition to weapons of mass destruction, and in particular nuclear weapons, when we consider our own position. I am not saying that the Secretary of State of Defence has learned to love nuclear weapons, but he has accepted the need to use them in certain circumstances. I remember him saying a while back:
Nuclear weapons are madness because they are a total waste of money. Trident alone has cost the United Kingdom in the region of £15 billion, and the annual cost of operating those weapons is in the region of £280 million. It is madness to use that money on such a weapon when it could be spent for far more socially useful purposes, such as providing some of the services that for many years people took for granted. If we stopped spending money on nuclear warheads, we
Our nuclear industry involves another financial cost. On 2 July 2002, the Department of Trade and Industry announced that the clean-up liability for the civil nuclear industry was about £48 billion, and rising. The Ministry of Defence has not revealed the equivalent figure for the military today, but hopefully the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Rammell), will provide the House with such information when he replies to our debate.
There is one cost that I would welcome, but which the Government have failed to meetproper compensation for the atomic veterans and their families for the suffering caused by events many years ago. It is estimated that the United States spent $3 trillion between 1940 and 1995 on a possible nuclear war. Annually, it spends $27 billion on preparations for such a war. Those figures do not include the costs of environmental clean-ups.
Another act of madness is the waste of skills, talents and creativity in the design and production of nuclear weapons. Imagine what could be achieved if we transferred those skills from military to civilian use. How much more dignified life could be for many more people. The greatest act of madness is the fact that nuclear weapons would kill not only our so-called enemy but our supporters. Ironically, they would kill the people who designed and produced them. Not only would they kill the enemy, our own people and the people who designed and produced those weapons of war but they would kill civilisation as we know it. They would literally cost us the earth.
A World War II every secondmore people killed in the first few hours than all the wars of history put together. The survivors, if any, would live in despair amid the poisoned ruins of a civilisation that had committed suicide."
While we continue to have nuclear weapons of mass destruction, we are clearly in breach of article VI of the treaty, which calls for each party to the treaty to enter into negotiations at an early date in good faith to achieve nuclear disarmament. That is not happening. Article I forbids any country that has signed up to the NPT, including countries that possess nuclear weapons, to collaborate directly or indirectly with any other country on nuclear weapons. It is obvious that Trident breaks this article. We breach article VI because, as the Secretary of State for Defence admitted,
What is particularly disgraceful about the continued military co-operation between the United States and the UK, which neither Tory nor, apparently, new Labour Administrations can grasp, is that these countries are two of the three depository states for the NPT. In effect, the treaty is held in trust by them. How do they show their respect? By breaking the very first article of the treaty.
The bilateral US/UK mutual defence agreement on atomic energy matters dating from 1958, which facilitates this co-operation, comes up for renewal later this year. It should be cancelled as an international gesture of good faith. Until decision makers and law makers in the nuclear armed powers recognise that the US and the UK in particular have obligations as part of the NPT bargain, no amount of lecturing other states how to behave in the face of nuclear proliferation temptations will have any credibility. If we continue to ignore the NPT or to break its articles, the greater will be the global threat of nuclear weapons.
The policy of successive Governments, Tory and Labour, is that we simultaneously support both our non-proliferation treaty commitments to nuclear disarmament and our need to retain nuclear weapons of mass destruction to protect our national security. Some might perceive a significant internal inconsistency in those policy positionsindeed, some might consider them to be in direct contradiction. That is in stark contrast with a decision that was taken at a Labour party conference in the early 1990s that we, as a future Labour Government, would, among other things, scrap Trident.
In my opinion, nuclear weapons will continue to be a threat to global security if we continue to ignore our obligations under the non-proliferation treaty. My hopes, and those of many other people committed not only to the anti-nuclear cause, but to world peace, are embodied in the NPT. If this Government and the Government of the United States continue to treat that treaty with contempt, the hopes of world peace and of avoiding nuclear catastrophe will be sorely diminished.