On the steps of the MoD, Bruce Kent presents ‘peace prizes’ to activists from MEDACT, ICAN, WILPF and many others

December 12, 2017

This account was prompted by a tweet by Roslyn Cook (campaigning in support of the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty and a global nuclear weapon free zone) and an article in Beat (the “go to” multi-platform radio station for entertaining & informing young adults in the South East)

On the 10th December, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to ICAN, for its “work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.

On Saturday, the day before the award in Oslo, Bruce Kent hosted an ‘award ceremony’ at the MoD in celebration of the Nobel Peace Prize – which honours the tireless efforts of thousands of people across the world who brought about the nuclear ban.

His ‘peace prize’ was presented to activists from @Medact @ICAN_UK @WILPF and many others on the steps of the Ministry of Defence in London. Read a fuller account on an allied website.

Beat reported extracts from Bruce Kent’s address

Bruce, the vice president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), thinks that Britain is “uniquely placed” to become the first nuclear power to “come off the fence”. During a period of heightened nuclear tensions arising from North Korea’s military tests, said no one wins in nuclear war: “It is a very dangerous time because a man like Trump really is not sufficiently informed to know what he is dealing with. He is still living in a kind of cowboy world, where the one with the bigger gun somehow wins. Well nobody wins with a nuclear war – there is no winning. We have had precarious times before, like the Cuban crisis, but this is quite a dangerous one – granted his volatile method of talking and thinking.”

He said the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent would be a ‘gross waste of money’:

“They always talk about it as if it was just the building of the things. But if you add the building and the running of them it is something like £300 billion which could be spent on housing or hospitals, or social services, or overseas aid – that money does not get challenged.”

We note that in November 2012 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) outlined its projections for year-on-year spending up to 2016/17 (above).

Mr Kent said the UK does not have an independent nuclear weapon

The country depends entirely on the Americans to supply the missiles: “If America or Trump said no more missiles for Britain, in six months we would no longer have a nuclear arsenal. We would have the warheads, but we wouldn’t have anywhere to put them. We are well placed to be the first nuclear power to come off the fence.”

Asked if he thinks North Korea is a particular threat, Mr Kent said: “I think North Korea has nuclear weapons because of the world it lives in. It is looking out at the American fleet, it is looking at nuclear weapons pointed at it and it thinks to itself, just like Mrs May probably, that it is safer to have nuclear than not to have them. I think it is more dangerous for everybody. The answer to the North Korea problem is to get rid of American nuclear weapons from that area and de-target North Korea – not to encourage them to copy us. If nuclear weapons provide security there is no common sense in saying that other countries should not have them.”

MEDACT, ICAN and WILPF staged a ceremony which included the presentation of a handmade Nobel Peace Prize coin and speeches. They also called on the Government to sign up to the newly approved UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons, and staged a “die in”, where the 25 activists lay sprawled on the steps of the Ministry of Defence in London (above) to highlight the human cost of nuclear war.

 

 

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Conceding the EU’s shortcomings, as individuals and as a nation we have much to gain from continued membership

June 16, 2016

A clear and persuasive article in the Friend, 17 June 2016

 

Over the years my wife and I have been to Vienna, Strasbourg, Prague, Amsterdam and Florence and walked across a Rhine footbridge into Germany into the small German town of Kehl. In all these places we were genuinely welcomed and felt a real sense of being Europeans.

While conceding that the EU has its shortcomings, we believe that as individuals and as a nation we have much to learn and to gain from continued membership. This view is shared by many financial, medical, cultural, trade and human rights organisations with a much greater insight than we can claim.

We would be deeply concerned if, in event of Brexit, the UK became even more dependent on the expansionist foreign and military policy of the United States, which, I believe, has a long record of ousting elected democracies by force.

The US accounts for almost half of all global spending on weapons; it sells to the UK the missiles needed for our Trident weapons of mass destruction, and it provides huge military support to Saudi Arabia and Israel, two countries that, arguably, have fomented instability in the Middle East.

We believe it would be much harder to solve problems diplomatically if the UK were to leave the EU, and that such an exit would itself trigger serious political/financial instability within Europe, to the great cost of ordinary people.

The EU can do much to improve employment conditions and human rights, which could be greatly furthered by further international research and development collaboration, projects in transport, education and climate change prevention.

Ken and Kay Veitch

Cheshire East Area Meeting


Media in Japan and the United Arab Emirates report the UN Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

April 30, 2015

At a time when the future of Trident is an election issue in Britain, it is difficult to get news of this event. The writer was alerted by the mother of one of the delegates to the conference taking place now in New York. She had described the march through the city and only technical reasons have prevented the transmission of a picture taken on the spot.

Atomic bomb survivors and peace campaigners take part in a march through New York last Sunday ahead of the U.N. conference to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation that was to start Monday. | KYODO

Atomic bomb survivors and peace campaigners take part in a march through New York last Sunday ahead of the U.N. conference to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation that was to start Monday. | KYODO

Around 7,500 people carrying banners and signs chanted “No nukes!”, “No more Hiroshima!” and other slogans as they walked about 3 km toward the United Nations,

An account and picture of the march was published in Japan which has experienced the horror of nuclear attacks by America.

At a rally held ahead of the parade, Yuko Nakamura, who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945, recalled that more than 200 students at her school died when the United States dropped the bomb. She was 13 years old at the time.

Toward the end of the event, more than 7 million signatures on petitions from Japan and other countries seeking negotiations to eliminate the world’s nuclear arsenals were submitted to Taous Feroukhi, the Algerian ambassador who will chair the NPT review conference, and Angela Kane, top U.N. official for disarmament affairs. The conference will continue through May 22.

gov uk logoIt was good to find a statement on GOV.UK, a public sector information website, created by the government’s Digital Service. Baroness Anelay, the Minister of State at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, is attending the UN 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It opens:

baroness anelay“The United Kingdom remains committed to the Non Proliferation Treaty. It has played an unparalleled role, keeping the world safe and curtailing the nuclear arms race. It is at the centre of international efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, to create a nuclear weapon free world, and to enable access to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.

And closes: “The United Kingdom will therefore play its part to reach an outcome that best benefits our collective rights to undiminished security, whilst taking us closer to our goal of a world free from nuclear weapons”.

dr al jabarThe only national media report found on the first page of a Google search was by the UEA’s The National: the Emirates’ Minister of State, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, said that the UAE was committed to ensuring global peace and security:

“The UAE attaches high importance to the NPT. It supports the right of countries’ peaceful use of nuclear energy with transparency and abiding by the highest standards of security and safety.”

He cited the UAE’s peaceful nuclear programme as a role model on how non-nuclear countries can utilise the international framework of cooperation, as provided for by the treaty.

Dr Al Jaber made a welcome call for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide, urging nuclear states to abide by their commitments: “[We] need to adopt practical steps to declare the Middle East as a nuclear weapons free zone”.


Jargon & illusion obscures the immorality of the arms trade

January 24, 2014

peace via twitterFT extract above

Read Ken Veitch in the Friend, 8 November 2013:

http://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/corporate-political-jargon-and-illusion-obscuring-the-immorality-of-the-arms-trade/

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New Year rally? Paul Oestreicher: peace movement in the doldrums

December 27, 2013

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paul oestreicher2Paul Oestreicher writes:

The message of the angels surfaces once a year: at Christmas. Peace finds its way into shop windows and on to Christmas cards. Everybody is in favour of peace, well… more or less, as long as it doesn’t include x, y and z, to name just a few. Most people don’t know much about Quakers, but they usually know that they don’t do war, that we are into peace.

But are we? Unless I’m very mistaken, the one thing for which we are so widely respected is something we take for granted. In the times when young men were called up to do their duty by queen and country Quakers were exempted. They had, after all, gone to prison rather than carry a sword. Today, there is no price to pay. For many Friends their pacifism has evolved into passivism, something very different, peace in our hearts. I hear some good Friends shaking their heads. Surely, we have a peace committee to represent the Religious Society of Friends wherever lobbying needs to be done. Surely, there are Quakers wherever people are at war with war.

True, but if my diagnosis is correct, we have, collectively, succumbed to the general lethargy that characterises our privatised society. We have largely opted out of the politics of protest. The Peace Movement is in the doldrums, in small part because of us. That will sound harsh to those few inside and outside the Society whose commitment is unflagging. They are still marching, but how many are following? How many Friends even know of Bruce Kent’s Movement for the Abolition of War, are paid up members of the Peace Tax Campaign, or think of digging out their old CND badge, wearing it and telling people why? Do white poppies distinguish us from the rest when even no poppy makes a statement?

The Peace Movement is struggling. Are our Meetings up and down the country seen to be in on the struggle? Our nation is in the midst of a significant and calculated re-militarisation of society. Does Trident simply cost too much or are we heard to be saying that it is a monstrous crime? The glorification of our armed forces is in full swing. Are we heard to cry that our eighteen year olds in Afghanistan are victims not heroes? Are we prepared to take on all the political parties that sign up to the national patriotic consensus?

I would love to think that my assumptions are wrong and that the answer to my rhetorical questions is yes, yes and yes again. In short, I think there is no better time to revitalise our peace witness than Christmas when a vulnerable child, who came to stand for everything that violence is not, is even commemorated on our postage stamps. That implies not just an emotional yes to peace but a political no to everything that frustrates it.

Our need to respect the demands of the natural environment and our duty to struggle for greater justice, especially for the poor, are permanent tasks for the human family. The need to end organised violence is a precondition for all that. Given the ‘advance’ of weapons technology and the astronomical cost exacted by the industrial-military complex, Albert Einstein recognised almost a century ago that unless this apocalyptic beast is defeated there is no human future. Jesus was no idealist, but a realist.

Naught for our comfort, the Angels call us, in the shoes of early Friends, to direct action – now.

Source: http://thefriend.org/article/peace-on-earth/

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Alex Salmond unveils his vision for Scots (January): summarised for those who missed it

May 20, 2013

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trident forth

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Magnus Gardham, political editor of the Herald (Scotland), reported on a speech made by the First Minister, Alex Salmond, setting out his vision for a formal constitution in a speech in London.

Nuclear related points made:

  • Under the SNP’s plans, Holyrood would start to draw up the document after the 2016 election if Scots vote for independence in the 2014 referendum.
  • All political parties and citizens would be encouraged to contribute their views through a constitutional convention.
  • Scotland’s written constitution should outlaw possession of nuclear weapons and lay down rules for the use of the armed forces in global conflicts.
  • The constitution would therefore examine the future of Trident.

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Mr Salmond commented: “A constitutional ban on the possession of nuclear weapons would end that obscenity”.

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Read the whole article here:http://www.heraldscotland.com/magnus-gardham


Opposition to Trident

January 16, 2012

MoD officials warn that London would demand billions in compensation from Edinburgh to fund the moving of Britain’s nuclear deterrent to England

A spokesman for Alex Salmond, Scottish first minister, said: 

“The UK government should have a care, and stop this sabre rattling. The vast majority of MSPs [members of the Scottish parliament], as well as the churches, trade unions, and civic society across the nation totally oppose Trident nuclear weapons being based in Scotland – and in the last Westminster parliament a majority of Scottish MPs opposed the renewal of Trident.”

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/20f28e12-3e0d-11e1-ac9b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1jSgRXFha