Tuesday, June 22, 2021

UK - In breach of International Law on Nukes

 The size of the UK’s nuclear arsenal had been on a downwards trajectory. Britain was set to reduce the number of warheads from 225 in 2010 to 180 by the mid-2020s, a decision made by David Cameron’s coalition government of 2010-15. This downsizing was part of three decades of gradual reductions in the UK’s nuclear arsenal, which included retiring its free-fall nuclear bombs in 1998. Britain now has roughly 195 warheads.

The UK government has now announced it is increasing the number of nuclear warheads for its Trident submarine fleet to 260. It had not been expected that the UK would increase its nuclear arsenal by over 40%. The Office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UK decision was contrary to its obligations under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — in other words, it is illegal under international law. The NPT requires countries that have nuclear weapons to disarm, and those that don’t have them not to get them. 

 Johnson’s government unveiled in its “Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy”  which has changed Britain’s stance on the use of nuclear weapons. The British government is also threatening to use its nuclear arsenal against non-nuclear weapons states that are said to be heading in the direction of acquiring nuclear weapons — or, as the Integrated Review puts it, those states judged to be “in material breach of their non-proliferation obligations”. The UK now reserves the right to use nuclear weapons not only against nuclear threats but against enemies possessing chemical and biological weapons or “emerging technologies that could have a comparable impact”. 

 It is easily understood as a thinly veiled reference to Iran. The British government has repeatedly said that “Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon”. The Integrated Review says the UK will embark on “a renewed diplomatic effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon”. But London appears to be sending a message to Tehran that is not just about diplomacy. 

The legal opinion also finds that the UK’s change in stance on the use of nuclear weapons is in breach of international law. Any use of nuclear weapons would violate international humanitarian law and a whole raft of legal obligations.

The UK’s new nuclear strategy is illegal and dangerou... (dailymaverick.co.za)


MAS said...

Why the hell is it called 'international law' when those who break it aren't put on trial and punished? It should be called 'international guidelines'.

ajohnstone said...

Even when international law finds a nation guilty as in the case of the USA mining the ports of Nicaragua and supporting the terrorist Contras back in 1980s it could act with impunity since no action could be taken to force the USA to pay reparations.

And the UK has flouted international court decisions in regards to the forcible expulsion of the Chagos islanders without any consequences.

It is a very old story. Might is Right