British Quakers reject report advising UK to retain 'Cold War relic' nuclear deterrent

(Photo: REUTERS / Phil Noble)A torpedo tube is seen onboard HMS Artful, the third of the Britain's Royal Navy's Astute class submarines, as it approaches completion at the company's Barrow-in-Furness shipyard in northern England March 13, 2014. Britain will fund a 300 million pound (0 million) redevelopment of BAE Systems's submarine shipyard, a step that would enable the costly renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent which has divided the coalition government.

Quakers in Britain strongly disagree with the conclusion of a report published July 1 that says the UK should retain its nuclear deterrent.

A group of former ministers, diplomats and generals in the parliamentary-approved Trident Commission say holding on to nuclear weapons could help deter threats to the UK's security in future.

The three-year study into the value of renewing Britain's Trident nuclear missile program in 2016 said the weapons could prove their worth in preventing national blackmail or another security threat.

"Quakers say that Trident is a relic of the Cold War and that the Trident Commission has failed to consider the legal obligations of the UK under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons," said a Quakers' statement after the report was released July 1.

"Quakers in Britain strongly disagree with the conclusion that Trident is necessary and urge the Commission to rethink its recommendations."

While welcoming deeper debate around the missile issue, Helen Drewery, general secretary of Quaker Peace & Social Witness said: "The Trident Commission has failed to properly consider alternatives to Trident.

"These are weapons of mass destruction which can never be used and have proved to be a poor deterrent against acts of terror or against recent political events. Trident is a relic of the Cold War."

The Quakers said they were disappointed the report did not address the legal and moral obligations of the UK under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

A final decision on whether to renew Trident nuclear missile system will be taken in 2016.

"If there is more than a negligible chance that the possession of nuclear weapons might play a decisive future role in the defence of the United Kingdom and its allies in preventing nuclear blackmail, or in affecting the wider security context within which the UK sits, then they should be retained," the report says.

"The impact of the UK's falling victim to ongoing strategic blackmail or nuclear attack is so significant that, even if the chances appear slim today, there is sufficient uncertainty surrounding the prospect that it would be imprudent to abandon systems that have a high capacity to counter such threats."

The current plans to construct and deploy four submarines with missiles and warheads over the period 2016 to 2062 will account for 9.4 per cent of Britain's defense budget, the report said.

Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. The group is known for its  commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth.

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