Friday, 5 March 2010

Now is the Time

I have had the privilege of coordinating a new campaign titled Now is the Time on behalf of nine Church denominations (with other Churches interested in joining). It focuses on the Non-Proliferation Review Conference in May.

This week the United States Administration has proposed even deeper cuts in the US nuclear arsenal. The new language now being used by Barak Obama and Gordon Brown is “the road to global zero”. Yet the gut response of many to the suggestion of a world free of nuclear weapons is “it will never happen”. Or as one foreign senior civil servant involved in disarmament affairs told me on Wednesday this week – “I think that it is a pipe dream”. Many other senior figures take a different view – see Global Zero.

It would certainly take time. But might we, sometime, arrive at a point where the nuclear powers are prepared to take that last step and give up nuclear weapons? There are significant issues regarding verification mechanisms and the application of automatic sanctions for those who do not play by the rules. If these could be resolved, and I believe that in time they can, will the major powers be prepared to give up the dubious status that is attached to being a nuclear weapons power? There is a great deal of inertia in the diplomatic, foreign affairs and defence establishments that works against new approaches to security.

See the Press Release issued by the coalition of UK Churches today. In it Baroness Shirley Williams, the Prime Minister’s advisor on non-proliferation and disarmament says “we have only a few years, at most a decade or so, to control and eventually abolish nuclear weapons”.Please let Governments know of your concern by signing the Now is the Time petition (we will take the petition to Number 10 Downing Street and some key embassies in advance of the NPT Review Conference in New York).