UK under pressure to attend International Conference on Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons
SNP writes to Foreign Secretary urging UK attendance
The United Kingdom Government is coming under growing pressure to attend the International Conference on Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna on 8-9 December 2014. Foreign Office Ministers have been non-committal on UK participation, however in recent days the United States has confirmed its participation together with over 100 other countries, the United Nations and Red Cross.
The Westminster Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Angus Robertson MP has written to Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond saying it is ‘high time for the UK to stop procrastinating and join the rest of the world in taking the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons seriously’.
Scotland is home to the UK’s entire nuclear weapons submarine fleet, which is based at Faslane, close to Scotland’s largest city Glasgow.
In his letter to the Foreign Secretary, Westminster SNP Leader Angus Robertson MP said: “The International Conference on the Humanitarian Conference of Nuclear Weapons is being attended by the United States and over 100 other countries. It is high time for the UK to stop procrastinating and join the rest of the world in taking the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons seriously.
“When I raised this recently during Foreign Office questions in the House of Commons his department claimed the aims of the conference were ‘unclear’.
“The Conference program could not be clearer outlining key sessions on: ‘Impact of Nuclear Weapons Explosions, ‘Risk Drivers for deliberate or inadvertent Nuclear Weapons Use’, ‘Scenarios, Challenges and Capabilities regarding Nuclear Weapons Use and other events’, and; ‘A “bird’s-eye view” on International Norms and the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons’. The conference is also being addressed by a range of foremost international experts.
“UK Governments have preferred Scotland to be home to the entire UK nuclear fleet despite large scale opposition in Scotland, including our churches, Trade Unions, voluntary sector and majority of parliamentarians. Given the proximity of these weapons of mass destruction to our largest city Glasgow, the least that the Westminster Government could do is take the humanitarian consequences of these weapons seriously. You should attend the conference".
Bill Kidd MSP, who is attending the Vienna conference as part of the delegation from Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (NNPD) said:
“The UK Government cannot simply boycott this conference as it has in previous years. When even other nuclear-armed countries like the United States are participating together with over 100 other nations it is simply unacceptable for the UK to shirk its responsibilities.
“It is total folly to spend £100bn on a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons, but if one is going to possess them, one has to take the humanitarian consequences of their use seriously.
From 8 – 9 December 2014 the Government of Austria will host the ‘Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.’ It is the latest step in a growing global initiative to bring focus to the consequences of their use.
The Vienna Conference will build on an initiative launched in 2013 that draws to focus attention on the humanitarian consequences of and risks associated with nuclear weapons. There have been two international conferences on the dangers, in Oslo, Norway, in March 2013, and Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014. Since the launch of the initiative the number of states participating in the initiative has grown to 127 in Oslo to 146 in Nayarit.
The Vienna Conference will focus on the short and long term consequences of nuclear weapons explosions, on public health, the environment, climate disruption, food security, migration, development related issues, infrastructure, and other consequences.
It will also address various risks that could result in deliberate or accidental nuclear weapons explosions such as human error, negligence, miscalculation, technical errors and vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons and their infrastructure. Moreover, the Conference will give an overview on existing international law and the possible consequences of nuclear weapon explosions.
Source: Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
House of Commons - Foreign Office Questions (28 Oct 2014) about Vienna conference:
12 November 2014