Nuclear weapons

1 August 2022News in Brief

According to Scottish CND and Nukewatch, there were nuclear warhead convoys at the end of the month in May, June and July.

The convoys do a return journey from AWE Burghfield in southern England (where the bombs are maintained) to Coulport on the west coast of Scotland (where they’re loaded onto Trident submarines). They travel through Glasgow, a city of 1.6 million people.

Each truck was probably carrying two nuclear warheads.

On 10 June, according to Nukewatch, a…

1 August 2022Feature

Campaigning wisdom from the heyday of CND, one of Bruce Kent's first pieces in PN

1982: Since I have been asked to do so, and not because I have any exclusive wisdom, experience or success in this field, I would like to share a few thoughts on the work of trying to mobilise public opinion for disarmament.

In recent years, public opinion for disarmament has been mobilised on a massive scale. That process has now to continue to the point when public opinion actually forces changes in national policies. To gather in a park is a most impressive act of witness. To…

1 August 2022Feature

A report on the first meeting of states that have ratified the Nuclear Ban Treaty

‘Just like the people of Kazakhstan reclaimed their agency [their ability to make their own decisions and to affect things], non-nuclear weapons states can reclaim their agency through the TPNW’, said Togzhan Kassenova, a Kazakh activist, speaking at ICAN's Nuclear Ban Forum in Vienna in June.

Togzhan, the author of Atomic Steppe: How Kazakhstan Gave Up the Bomb (Stanford University Press, 2022), used personal testimony and research to set the tone for the week ahead. She…

1 August 2022Feature

At least a fifth of the UK population has always been unilateralist

Of the many causes that Bruce Kent fought for, the one he is most identified with is unilateral nuclear disarmament. Bruce was general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) from 1980 to 1985, and CND chair from 1987 to 1990. CND’s core demand is for unilateral nuclear disarmament – for the UK government to dismantle all its nuclear weapons immediately, whether or not other countries also disarm.

Opinion polls that I’ve found suggest that, throughout the nuclear era,…

1 August 2022Feature

Our campaign to Ban Nuclear Threats continues...

If you’re a Western disarmament group, and you choose not to mention or engage with the long history of Western nuclear threats against non-nuclear weapon states, I think that’s a problem, morally, politically and in terms of strategy – but it’s kind of business as usual.

If you’re a Western disarmament group, and you choose to engage with the threatened use of nuclear weapons in international crisis situations, but you choose to talk only about nuclear threats issued by enemies of…

1 August 2022News in Brief

A new YouGov poll has found that 8 in 10 of UK adults (79 percent) would support No First Use: all countries with nuclear weapons committing to a policy of never using nuclear weapons first in a conflict. (The British government and NATO refuse to rule out First Use.)

The Nuclear Education Trust poll, carried out on 4 – 5 July, also found that 68 percent of people believe the use of nuclear weapons in any circumstances is unacceptable, and that 56 percent are worried that a nuclear…

1 August 2022News

Anti-nuke demos in London, Berlin, Paris and Coulport

On 16 June, an International Day of Action was held to call on all countries to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and for all nuclear weapon states to get rid of them.

There were demonstrations making these demands in Paris and Berlin, and letters were handed in to the British nuclear weapons bases at Faslane and Coulport.

The day of action was just ahead of the first review meeting (in Vienna) of the 65 countries who have so far ratified or…

1 August 2022News

Unique window into British nuclear decision-making goes online

In August, the Nuclear Information Service (NIS) will be unveiling the first digitised documents from the research archive of the late Scottish CND co-ordinator John Ainslie (see his obituary in PN 2600 – 2601). As well as taking part in campaigning and direct action in support of disarmament, John was ‘an authoritative and internationally respected nuclear researcher’ (the Guardian…

1 August 2022News in Brief

Extreme Circumstances, an important new report from Nuclear Information Service (NIS), will be published on 16 August.

It looks into what’s happening with the UK’s Replacement Warhead Programme, tries to understand the strategic thinking behind it, and provides some informed thoughts about what it’s design specs are likely to be.

Much of the information NIS has drawn on comes from US public documents about their new W93 warhead – which the UK warhead depends on.

1 June 2022News

Campaigners demand ‘No US nukes in Britain!’

‘No US nukes in Britain!’ That was the message of over 150 activists from around the UK (and from the Continent) who joined the CND demonstration at USAF Lakenheath on 21 May.

The news that the US air force might be returning nuclear weapons to its base in north Suffolk broke on 11 April with a tweet from US researcher Hans Kristensen: ‘Looks like RAF Lakenheath air base has quietly been added to the list of nuclear weapons storage sites receiving upgrades in Europe.’

1 June 2022Feature

PN's editor responds to Janet Fenton's piece in this issue

I should start by saying that I have enormous respect for Janet Fenton as a person and as an activist. Also, I think the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is an astonishing and hugely valuable achievement, and the ICAN coalition completely deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in bringing the treaty about.

However... after reading Janet’s arguments…

1 June 2022Feature

An anti-nuke campaigner responds to our last issue's editorial

An article in the last issue of PN was seeking legislation to ban threatening to use nuclear weapons.

The Ukraine war has certainly had the effect of changing some of the UK public’s reactions to things many of us hold dear, for example our CND badges with the iconic symbol there for all to see in black and white. No longer are people saying to me: ‘CND, Oh, I remember that, I got one of those years ago at Glastonbury….’

Threatening to use nuclear weapons is certainly…

1 April 2022News in Brief

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) won a victory over Transport for London (TfL) at the end of March.

CND had asked to put up an advert on London’s public transport system, which is run by TfL, in late 2021. It shows a nuclear weapon broken in two by the peace symbol and asks: ‘Why are we getting more nuclear weapons? We could be investing in healthcare, renewable energy, education.’

TfL refused at first, saying the ad is ‘party political’, but has now been forced (by…

1 April 2022Comment

It's past time to ban the use of nuclear threats, argues Milan Rai

29 March: Over the last month, the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has cost tens of thousands of lives, forced millions of Ukrainians to become refugees – and created a world crisis. As we go to press, there are reports that there may be a ceasefire soon.

That seems unlikely until after Russia has captured Mariupol. The besieged and much-battered coastal city is the key to the land corridor linking Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian…

2 March 2022Blog

Western commentators who rush to condemn Putin’s nuclear madness would do well to remember Western nuclear madness of the past, argues Milan Rai

[Milan Rai will be giving a Zoom talk about the contents of this article at 7pm GMT on Thursday 17 March 2022. Please click here for more details.]

On top of the fear and horror caused by the current Russian onslaught in Ukraine, many have been shocked and frightened by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent words and actions in relation to his nuclear weapons…