Lib Dems urged to clarify government deal on nuclear weapons


London : The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has called on the Liberal Democrats to clarify their coalition agreement with the Conservatives with regard to the replacement of the UK’s Trident nuclear missiles.

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“Many of their voters will be concerned and will want to know whether and how they will continue to scrutinise the process and make a case for non-replacement and disarmament,” said CND chair Kate Hudson.

Hudson said that the junior coalition partners must be allowed at least to challenge the Tory-led government and for Trident’s replacement to be included in the Strategic Defence Review.

A 7-page document to allow the centre-right and centre-left parties initially to work together was published on Wednesday to help resolve differences in policy. But a full range of foreign, defence and some domestic policy issues is not due to be published in a final Coalition Agreement until later.

The Conservatives are fully supportive of the previous Labour government’s controversial decision to replace the country’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent, unlike the Lib Dems, which has proposed alternatives including disarmament.

Hudson said that the Lib Dems must spell out how they can and will “make use of their reported freedom to scrutinise the ongoing replacement process to do so effectively and in the manner that so many of those who voted for them will expect.”

“We also hope that more Labour MPs will now be willing to oppose Trident replacement, not only those newly-elected but those who may previously have backed a Labour government on this” she said in a statement obtained by IRNA.

“As the new government announces its programme of spending cuts that can only harm ordinary people in this country, CND will be continuing to campaign to ‘cut Trident’,” her statement pledged.

CND is concerned that the decisions relating to nuclear weapons will be made primarily by William Hague as Foreign Secretary and Liam Fox as Defence Secretary, both Conservative ministers, while Lib Deem MPs will not be allowed to voice their opposition.

While expressing commitment to multilateral disarmament, Hague has attempted to invoke fears about Iran’s civilian programme as well as North Korea’s to justify the replacement of Trident, in language which campaigners say echoes former US president George W Bush.