Speech available on Independent Catholic News.
Bruce Kent, vice chair of Pax Christi, gave the following speech to peace campaigners at Faslane nuclear submarine base in Scotland on April 2, 2012.
I can’t say that I’m glad to be here—there are many other places in Scotland that I would like to see. But I am back here because we have not yet achieved our aims. We have not yet restored this lovely place to peaceful purposes.
It is still home to Trident – our contribution to a system underpinned by a readiness to commit mass murder. Nuclear deterrence is both illegal and immoral. When I was in Glasgow sometime ago I read an interview with the Captain of a Trident submarine. He said than that if the worst came to the worst his sailors would do their duty.
Committing mass murder is not part of anyone’s duty.
But it will never happen we are told. Apparently we have them in order never to use them.
How does anyone know that? The list of nuclear weapon accidents and disastrous misunderstandings is a very long one. At least twice, over Cuba and in September 1983 at the height of the cold war we came within a hairsbreadth of nuclear war because people misunderstood what the other side was up to.
No accidents? Its only a few years ago that a French and a British nuclear armed submarine collided head on in the Atlantic.
At the moment we are warming up to an attack on Iran. Whatever happened to nuclear deterrence? That Israel has nuclear weapons is beyond dispute. We know it in part because of the courage of Morchechai Vanunu who blew the whistle on Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
So what happened to deterrence on which we were told our security depends? Doesn’t work for Iran?
‘Precarious’ was the word used to describe deterrence in 1978 in the Final report of the 1st UN Session on Disarmament and precarious it remains.
Our security? How do you threaten people who do not value their own lives? We call them suicidal. How do you threaten people (we call them terrorists but all holders of
nuclear weapons are terrorists) who do not have a territorial state?
That is why we are back here at Faslane. To say NO to this lunacy and to work even harder to make that NO effective.
Has anything changed?
Well a lot really. I’m not here to preach Scottish independence but I certainly rejoice that there is a different air up here on these issues. You in Scotland don’t accept so many of the dogmas, which have dominated this debate for too long.
A Scotland without nuclear weapons? What a good idea as long as it doesn’t just mean you would be happy if they were elsewhere on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall.
Thanks to a recent excellent Scottish CND report it is clear enough anyway that there is nowhere in England or Wales (not that the Welsh would want them) that they could go.
Getting them out of Scotland must be a first step to eliminating them all worldwide.
We have now a draft convention, which shows the way to doing just that. It wont happen over night but it can happen. But the Government at Westminster does not even want to make a start.
That Government has a choice to make and in large part it has secretly and undemocratically made it.
Plans for a replacement for Trident are already well advanced. This Government shows no interest in the 1996 ruling from the International Court of Justice that there is an obligation to negotiate elimination and to bring such negotiations to a successful conclusion.
The cost argument is a very powerful one and it may win the day for us. But beware. There are not a few British influential politicians who say they are against Trident replacement but who would be quite happy to have something cheaper.
Total elimination for Britain is not on their agenda. There can’t be one law for the goose and another for the gander.
We want to impose all sorts of inspections on Iran. If there is to be a non-nuclear world then all states are going to have to open themselves up to inspection.
Scientists working on such weapons of mass destruction must be ready to face criminal charges.
Service men and women in the Royal Navy have to be ready to refuse orders to have anything to do with nuclear weapons.
All of us must refuse the bogus security we are offered at such immoral terms.
That is the key word. Immoral.
If it is wicked to commit mass murder it is wicked to threaten to do so. Our imaginations have got too dull. We have become used to this expensive and dangerous nuclear weapon world. Too many foolishly think that we can limit the spread of such weapons while keeping the right to have them ourselves. President Obama for one and many others too.
It is just possible that Scotland, by rejecting Trident, might lead the way towards a more just, peaceful and humane international system. In that great task we, south of the border, are your friends and partners.