Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan Calls on UK to Abandon Nuclear Missiles

Photo: HMS Victorious, one of Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan has called on the UK government to abandon its nuclear weapons, insisting the deterrent ‘cannot be justified on moral, strategic or economic grounds’

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan and other faith leaders have urged the UK Government to abandon nuclear missiles on moral, strategic and economic grounds.

The calls come in the same week that the findings of a Government report led the Lib Dems to argue that Britain could cease to have a continuous-at-sea deterrent, cut the submarine fleet from four boats to three and save £4bn on the estimated £20bn to £25bn cost of renewing the Trident missile system.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday insisted the country can be kept safe without a Cold War-era nuclear weapons policy that enables the UK to “flatten Moscow at the push of a button”.

But Dr Morgan called for the Government to go further and argued that Britain would now be better off without nuclear weapons.

The Anglican archbishop said: “Replacing Trident cannot be justified morally, strategically or financially. Morally, we can’t argue for non-proliferation and against possession of nuclear weapons in other countries, such as Iran and North Korea, if we continue to invest in our own.

“As a role model for other countries, I feel it does immense damage to building peace and security in other political and economic contexts.

Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan

Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan

“Strategically, nuclear capability no longer seems to be an appropriate way of ensuring security or equipping our military forces to function effectively.

“The very existence of nuclear weapons as a defence against an unknown future threat is likely to increase a culture of demand for nuclear weapons across the world rather than reduce it. Financially, at a time when we’re all being called on to tighten our belts and are affected by severe cuts in local government, health and education, I think it would be scandalous to spend £20bn on Trident’s renewal.”

Alun Lenny, spokesman for the Union of Welsh Independents – a large network of chapels which has roots dating back to 1639 – said: “The union has very recently called not for the downgrading of Trident but for the scrapping of the nuclear fleet.

“It’s incredible at a time of great and increasing public expenditure and cutbacks in fields like health and education in particular, that the UK Government is seriously thinking about spending [billions] on these weapons of mass destruction, which is what they are.”

Mr Lenny called for a debate about post-Cold War spending priorities and argued money would be better spent caring for past and present service personnel.

Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism at the University of Wales, said it was no longer in the UK’s national interest to possess nuclear weapons and called for a reassessment in terms of cost-effectiveness, ethics and strategic military planning.

He said: “I think the desire to have a strong nuclear deterrent is bound up with a strong feeling Britain must be in the first rank of superpowers. It’s not a good reason to spend billions on a nuclear deterrent that will hopefully never be used and will probably be dismantled.”

Jill Gough, national secretary of CND Cymru, said: “In Wales, we’ve got a very strong ecumenical movement against Trident… I think it probably echoes the strong Welsh tradition of pacifism and thinking differently; one likes to think so.”

Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies warned in the Commons this week of the dangers of abandoning Trident.

He said: “If we don’t have a full-time deterrent, we might as well as stand high as we possibly can on the ladder so that our enemies can see the white flag that we will need to wave at them.”

Iran has stated it will resume talks on the country’s nuclear programme as soon as the newly-elected president puts together his negotiating team.

Former chiefs of defence staff Lord Boyce and Lord Stirrup warned this week against any downgrade to the UK system, along with five former defence secretaries.

Articles by: David Williamson

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