Evidence Prepared for the Greenock Trial by Rebecca Johnson

Evidence from Rebecca Johnson

Prepared for the Greenock Trial of Ulla Roder, Ellen Moxley and Angie Zelter

Compiled 19.9.99

1) The Decision to deploy Trident

2) Britain’s international, legal and treaty obligations regarding nuclear weapons
First UN Resolution, 1946
Partial Test Ban Treaty 1963
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty 1996
International Court of Justice 1996
UN Resolutions 1996-98
Practical proposals for making progress on nuclear disarmament
August 1998 in the CD

3) Aspects of British and NATO policies which undermine the NPT
i) Retaining nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future
ii) Threatening nuclear strike against non-nuclear adversaries
iii) NATO Policy and Nuclear Sharing

4) Nuclear Targetting and Nuclear Doctrine
US Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations
Britain’s nuclear doctrine: the Conservative view
Labour nuclear doctrine: The 1998 Strategic Defence Review

5) British Cooperation with US and France
US-British nuclear co-operation
Franco-British Nuclear Co-operation

6) Nuclear Fuel Cycle leading to the production and deployment of nuclear weapons
Trident warhead basics
Uranium mining
Uranium milling
Health risks from uranium mining and milling
Uranium conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication
Health risks from uranium conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication
Some recorded problems at Springfields
Some recorded problems at AWE Cardiff
Plutonium Reprocessing
Some recorded problems at Windscale/Sellafield
Plutonium fabrication
Some Recorded Problems at AWE Aldermaston

7) Nuclear Testing
Australian Royal Commission on British Nuclear Tests
British testing in the Pacific
Underground nuclear testing
Nuclear Testing: exploitation and contamination

Personal Biography and Expertise
Recent publications
Disarmament Diplomacy
Recent Articles on Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Publications on Environmental Effects of Nuclear testing, production and accidents
International Meetings Attended This Year

1) The Decision to deploy Trident

Main points: The decision to build Trident was pushed through in 1979 by Mrs Thatcher on ideological grounds, against the advice of senior naval officers who did not regard it as necessary for British security. Likewise, Trident was upgraded to D5 (Trident II) missiles because the US had decided to upgrade for itself. The upgrade was not dictated by any UK security consideration, but by transatlantic politics.

The decision to deploy the US-built Trident missiles on four British submarines was taken in 1979 by Margaret Thatcher, endorsed by a small cabinet committee meeting and agreed on 15 July 1980. The First Sea Lord, Sir Henry Leach dismissed Trident as a “cuckoo in the [naval] nest” Sir Nigel Bagnall, a senior military officer at the time later spoke of being ‘mauled’ by the Prime Minister, whose determination to have Trident over-rode all opposition. Acquiring Trident appeared to be Mrs Thatcher’s personal crusade: “Whatever the cost, the [Trident] system was so central to Prime Minister Thatcher’s views of defence policy that it would stand or fall with her.”

Two years later, after the United States decided to develop and deploy a more sophisticated system of D5 missiles (Trident II), the Ministry of Defence (MOD) determined to buy the upgrades. The decision to deploy D5 missiles instead of the planned C-4 system was explained in terms of their enhanced capability, although no such need had been identified by the MOD. The British government wanted to keep in step with the Americans and were particularly wary of the financial and logistical problems they could face if they ended up with a system that the Americans were about to phase out of their own arsenal. The government therefore opted to upgrade to D5, hoping to save money by having the missiles stored and refurbished by the US naval facility King’s Bay in Georgia.

The Trident system is a long-range ballistic missile system carried in four long-service nuclear-powered submarines. The intended role during design and purchase was strategic. Britain manufactures its own warheads, information on which is protected under the Official Secrets Act, but the necessity of conforming with the US-built D-5 missiles suggests that Britain’s Trident system would carry something very similar to the US’ W-76, namely 100 kt warheads most likely configured as a 5-warhead multiple targeted (MIRV) system. Although the warheads are of British production, their design and testing have been done in close cooperation with the United States, to ensure compatibility with US missiles. The Trident system was originally scheduled to be fully deployed by 1995, but problems with warhead and submarine production during the late 1980s and early 1990s have pushed the earliest date of full readiness back to 2000. The ageing Polaris system, having limped unconvincingly into the 1990s, was finally laid to rest in 1995, though for several years Polaris had been unable to provide the 24 hour patrols and back-up that successive governments claimed were necessary for deterrence.

2) Britain’s international, legal and treaty obligations regarding nuclear weapons

Main points: Under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, which took legal effect from 1970 with Britain as a ‘depositary party’, Britain has is legally bound to pursue negotiations in good faith on ceasing the arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament. The Treaty also prohibits the transfer any nuclear weapons or weapons technology to any non-nuclear country. Because not enough was done in the first 25 years, many states were critical of the nuclear weapon states and so pushed for the NPT obligations to be strengthened through decisions adopted in 1995 and through the ICJ advisory opinion. Britain pays lipservice to these obligations but at NPT and UN meetings there is, in fact, a clear pattern of failure to comply. Not only does Britain vote against such practical steps, but it also works with the United States and France to prevent others – especially European allies and Commonwealth countries – from supporting nuclear disarmament measures, even very modest ones like reducing reliance on nuclear weapons by ruling out first use or increasing safety by taking the weapons off alert.

First UN Resolution, 1946
The first ever United Nations Resolution, unanimously adopted on 24 January 1946, was on “the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy”. This resolution proposed establishment of an international Commission, charged with developing proposals inter alia
“(b) for control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes;
(c) for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.”

Despite voting for this resolution in 1946, Britain became the third nuclear weapon state when it exploded a nuclear device at Monte-Bello, Australia on October 3, 1952.

Partial Test Ban Treaty 1963
In 1963, Britain signed and ratified the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere, under water and outer space. At the time, Prime Minister MacMillan and President Kennedy had wanted a total ban on all nuclear testing, but they were stymied in part by their own nuclear laboratories, who put forward exaggerated scenarios of cheating and false information on the verifiability of a comprehensive treaty. The PTBT called for a comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT) to be concluded, but this was not achieved until more than 30 years later, in 1996. Although for many years Britain was a major opponent of a CTBT, it abided by the basic obligations of the PTBT.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968
The cornerstone of Britain’s current legal obligations rest in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), concluded in 1968. Britain was one of the first to sign and ratify the Treaty and is one of the ‘depositary states’, with special responsibilities for the Treaty. It entered into force in 1970.

The NPT was a bargain to stem the spread of nuclear weapons. Almost all states joined as ‘non-nuclear-weapon states’ and promised not to develop, manufacture or seek to acquire nuclear weapons or components. As of today, there are 182 non-nuclear-weapon state members of the Treaty, including several (e.g. Brazil and Argentina) which abandoned quite advanced nuclear weapon research programmes and at least one (South Africa) which had actually produced nuclear weapons, but renounced and destroyed them and the facilities and joined the Treaty in 1992.

The obligation placed on the five nuclear weapon states, which were defined in the Treaty – United States, Soviet Union (now Russia), Britain, France and China – undertook in Article VI: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

When the NPT came up for renewal in 1995, the nuclear weapon states, including Britain were criticised heavily by the majority of non nuclear weapon parties to the Treaty for not fulfilling the article VI commitment and, particularly, for violating it in the years 1970 to 1987, when all five deliberately modernised and added to their nuclear arsenals.

1987 is a key date, because the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in December 1987, is widely recognised as the ‘beginning of nuclear arms control’. This is the Treaty between the United States and Russia that removed nuclear ground launched cruise missiles, pershing II and SS20s from Europe. It would be unlikely that the effect of grassroots protest would be admitted in public, but in analytical discussions on the 1980s, military officials do talk about what contributed to the collapse of the cold war. For example, I was present during an off the record conversation between senior United States Airforce officers and MOD officials in 1997 when the US officers admitted that the nonviolent actions of the European peace movement, and the Greenham Common women in particular, had contributed to the pressure from military personnel to to cut a deal on removing cruise missiles from Europe. The Pentagon frustration about the persistent protests helped to create the conditions for the United States to negotiate when General-Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev offered a more constructive approach.Yet during the 1980s, Greenham women and other activists were found guilty in trials such as this on the grounds that actions taken to disrupt cruise missile convoys were not sufficiently closely related to the objective of getting rid of the weapons and preventing nuclear war. If the USAF officers’ analysis is to be believed – and there is plenty of supportive evidence – the ‘beginning of arms control’ owed some of its success to the actions of civilian women, together with other factors in East and West Europe where civil society helped to force much-needed change.

I was a close observer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and attended all the meetings from 1994 to the present. The following section derives from the documents and statements from various countries and personal interviews with all the key ambassadors and officials, as published at the time in my various reports and articles.

At the crucial NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995, at which the fate of nuclear non-proliferation would be decided, there was severe criticism from many different countries that Britain, as well as the United States and Russia, had ignored their Treaty obligations for the first 17 years (France and China were not members until 1992). The assessment of progress towards ending the arms race was more favourable for the period 1987 to 1995, with recognition of the importance of the INF Treaty, the bilateral US-Russian START process, the unilateral withdrawal by Britain of the tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and the We-177 from ships and planes, cancellation of a planned new tactical air to surface missile (TASM) and so on. Nevertheless, Venezuela pointed out that ‘at an early date’ in article VI could not possibly be construed to mean 25 years later. With the nuclear weapon states arguing that the arms race had ended, Algeria asked for proof: the nuclear weapon states “could provide information on the number and type of nuclear weapons they intended to have under their future military programmes and what countries they intended to use such weapons against. The Conference could then judge from their answers whether or not the nuclear arms race has ceased”. The weapon states refused to give such information.

Even recognising progress since 1987, a large number of countries said that ending the out-of-control nuclear arms race was only part of the article VI obligation and was not the same as nuclear disarmament, which was the second part. Across the board, the non-nuclear-weapon parties to the treaty castigated the nuclear weapon states for failing to deliver on their Treaty obligations. The European Union, which normally puts in a joint statement split. France, holding the EU presidency, read a statement on behalf of only 11 of the 15 members. Austria, Ireland and Sweden broke away from what one of them called a “complacent view tailored to the needs of France and Britain”. They objected to references to “significant reductions by France and the UK”, which had withdrawn some tactical nuclear systems, but still resisted participation in multilateral nuclear arms reduction, lacking any concrete future steps towards nuclear disarmament. (Italy kept quiet.) When questioned afterwards, a British official said the countries concerned were “wholly irrelevant”.

Over a hundred countries grouped together as the ‘non-aligned movement’ called for a real programme of action with a time-table and concrete steps to achieve nuclear disarmament. Sweden said this was ‘reasonable’ and Switzerland more specifically called on the Nuclear-Five to agree on a “time frame for progressive substantial reductions of their arsenals”. Argentina, which used to have a nuclear weapon programme of its own, argued that whereas the “international community is responsible for preventing the horrors of the use of nuclear weapons … the nuclear weapon states are responsible for their total elimination”.

Bangladesh reminded the nuclear weapon states that they “cannot continue to emphasise how essential nuclear arms are and at the same time expect other states to forgo them forever”. Bangladesh had good reason for worrying about the advertising billboard that Britain and the others were holding up.

In May 1998 there was a horrifying reminder of the consequences of British (and the others’) nuclear policy that Bangladesh most feared, when India and then Pakistan exploded nuclear weapon tests. Since then, Pakistan has emulated British and NATO nuclear policy in refusing to commit itself not to use nuclear weapons first. Moreover, giving the lie to the notion that some analysts put forward in 1998 that mutual nuclear possession would deter war in the region, India and Pakistan have faced the worst military conflict over Kashmir for 20 years. Most recently, India is now in the process of adopting a nuclear doctrine that would see the development of 400 nuclear weapons of various types and delivery systems. Over this year in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, when Britain together with others have sought to criticise the South Asian nuclear tests and developments, Pakistan’s ambassador Munir Akram has referred sarcastically and pointedly to following the UK’s prior example.

In 1995, aware of the need to persuade other states to make the NPT permanent, the position put forward by the British government was as follows: the UK was “fully committed to practical disarmament and non-proliferation measures, including negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament, which remained its ultimate goal.”

The term ‘ultimate goal’ was used frequently by four of the nuclear weapon states, including Britain. Other statements from American, British and French officials led to a widespread understanding among other Treaty parties that ‘ultimate goal’ meant ‘not in the foreseeable future’. As a direct result of the internationally expressed view that the nuclear weapon states had failed to implement their nuclear disarmament obligations in the NPT’s first 25 years, the 1995 conference adopted a set of decisions designed to put more pressure on them by identifying some of the next steps more specifically. These statements had to be negotiated and agreed by all 175 states participating. The nuclear powers could therefore veto strong proposals. Nevertheless, the agreements put a target date for a test ban committee and called for immediate negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. In an attempt to make the article VI obligation more real, they called for “the determined pursuit by the nuclear weapon States of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, and by all States of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty 1996
Britain signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996, despite having worked against it for many years. Due to the change of government, Britain was among the first to ratify the Treaty in 1998, but it has not entered into legal force because other key states, especially the United States, Russia, China, India and Pakistan have not yet ratified (or in the case of India and Pakistan, even signed). The CTBT was hard fought, with the result that though it bans nuclear fission test explosions, which used to be the only reliable means of testing new designs, it does not prohibit ‘sub-critical’ and laboratory testing. The point at which the United States began pushing for a CTBT coincided with an increased ability to test new designs in the laboratory, due to technological advances. As described in section 5), Britain is now engaged in joint projects with the United States and France to enhance its laboratory testing, research and design capabilities, in contradiction to the purpose and spirit – but not, according to the text – the letter of the CTBT.

International Court of Justice 1996
The weapon states did not have a veto on what the ICJ could do, however. In 1996, the Court came to its own conclusion about lack of ‘good faith’ progress on article VI. One of the Court’s unanimous conclusions did not merely quote article VI but gave it authoritative reinforcement: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”.

There are other witnesses who can talk in detail about the ICJ opinion. My evidence can show the implications of this opinion in international diplomacy and the United Nations and British reactions.

UN Resolutions 1996-98
Since 1996, several UN resolutions have underlined this unanimous paragraph from the ICJ advisory opinion. In 1997, in a resolution proposed by Malaysia entitled “advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons” (UNGA 52/38 O), 116 nations voted in favour of the resolution which called for a “nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination”. Britain was among 26 countries to vote against. However, Canada had called for a separate vote on the paragraph quoting the ICJ unanimous opinion that “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”. 152 countries voted in favour of this paragraph, with only 5 against: France, Israel, Monaco, Russia and the United States. Britain surprised its nuclear weapon colleagues by abstaining. The implication of the two votes, however, suggests that while Britain accepts the validity of the advisory opinion, it rejects the steps proposed by a large majority of the international community for fulfilling it.

Most recently, in 1998, even more countries endorsed the paragraph quoting the unanimous advisory opinion: 159, with 4 against and eight abstentions. As in 1997, Britain abstained on this paragraph but voted against the whole resolution. A new resolution in 1998 highlighted the contradiction between Britain’s stated positions acknowledging its international legal obligations and its unwillingness to undertake or even entertain internationally supported steps towards fulfilling those obligations. Entitled “Towards a Nuclear Weapon Free World: the Need for a New Agenda”, it was based on a declaration from the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden on June 9 1998. (UNGA 53/77Y). The UN resolution on a New Agenda underlined the importance of fully implementing the NPT and its strengthened review process adopted in 1995 and proposed a multistranded approach to nuclear disarmament, utilising unilateral, bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral actions, including: further reductions and progress on START; de-alerting; a moratorium on the production of fissile materials for weapons pending conclusion of the FMT negotiations; entry into force of the CTBT; an international legal instrument on security assurances. Not only did the British delegation vote against this resolution. Britain actively worked with the United States and France to persuade their nuclear umbrella allies – NATO and Japan – to vote against. Britain sent high level démarches – diplomatic delegations – to the capitals of several NATO countries, arguing that such a resolution, which called in very moderate terms for some concrete steps and a re-thinking of NATO’s policy threatening the potential first use of nuclear weapons, was inconsistent with NATO membership. As it turned out, 12 out of the 16 NATO countries abstained rather than vote against this resolution. Britain, France, the United States and Turkey voted against.

I could produce many quotes from statements made by Britain and other countries in the Conference on Disarmament, the NPT meetings and the United Nations. In the interests of time I won’t, but I hope the point is clear. Rather than speeches, the important votes in the UN General Assembly show most clearly the level of support for nuclear disarmament and Britain’s official attitude, even after the change of government on May 1, 1997.

There is a clear pattern of British officials stating support for the NPT and international legal obligations regarding nuclear disarmament, but in reality Britain acts against such obligations, voting against most practical steps and seeking to prevent others supporting even interim measures, such as taking nuclear weapons off alert or reducing reliance on nuclear weapons by ruling out first use.

Practical proposals for making progress on nuclear disarmament
The vast majority of countries have called for the nuclear weapon states to come up with a timetable for complying with article VI of the NPT.

But even from Britain’s close allies in international politics, such as Australia and Japan and from prestigious (not radical) American think-tanks, there have been many attempts since 1995 to identify how nuclear weapons could be eliminated safely, with verification and international controls.

In 1996 an eminent group of former military officials, government and academic specialists brought out the Canberra Commission Report. There was an ongoing project of the prestigious US think tank, the Henry L. Stimson Center, headed by former US general Goodpaster, which issued three reports. A year later the US Academy of Sciences also issued a report. Each of these criticised the doctrine of nuclear deterrence and continued possession of nuclear weapons and each suggested practical steps that needed to be taken. The most recent of these initiatives was undertaken by the Japanese government and was called the Tokyo Forum. Its report, published in July, differed markedly in tone from that of the other reports. The Tokyo Forum gives a horrifyingly sombre analysis of the failure of nuclear arms control since 1995, noting that the START reduction process has stalled leaving both the United States and Russia with more than 10,000 nuclear weapons apiece, that the test ban treaty has not entered into force, and that the commitments made by NPT parties in 1995 have not been delivered. In particular, the Forum underlined that the choice the world faces is between “the assured dangers of proliferation and the challenges of disarmament”.

August 1998 in the CD
Most recently, in the Conference on Disarmament just last month, where Mexico, Egypt and others renewed their calls for practical action on nuclear disarmament, Ambassador Javier Illanes of Chile devoted half his statement to the findings of the Tokyo Forum, giving emphasis to its conclusion that unless the “central compact” [that the nuclear weapon states will get rid of their weapons in return for the non-nuclear weapon states foregoing the option to acquire them] in the NPT is strengthened, the alternative will be “further proliferation and the continued revaluation of nuclear weapons in the 21st century”. Illanes identified the core question in the nuclear disarmament debate as “whether nuclear deterrence or the abolition of nuclear weapons offers more national, regional and global security” and noted that while nuclear weapon possessors continue to claim they enhance national security, their actions have led rivals to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Illanes concluded that “national, regional and global security are not enhanced by the possession of nuclear weapons”. Referring to the indefinite extension of the NPT, Illanes said that “in no way did we intend to establish an international order based upon the perpetual existence of a small group of States having the right to possess nuclear weapons and a great majority not having that right”.

3) Aspects of British and NATO policies which undermine the NPT

Many NPT members have criticised British and NATO policies for undermining the NPT. i) Britain’s insistence that we would need Trident for the ‘foreseeable future’ contravenes the article VI commitment to negotiate in good faith on nuclear disarmament; ii) the threat to use nuclear weapons against NPT members which do not have nuclear weapons violates the legally binding ‘security assurances’ given by Britain and America and endorsed by the UN security council; and iii) NATO policy of deploying nuclear weapons in non-nuclear weapon countries in Europe is incompatible with articles I and II of the NPT.

There are several ways in which current British and NATO policies undermine – and, many NPT parties argue, violate – the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

i) the statement in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (p 19) that Britain would need to rely on Trident or a similar force “for the foreseeable future” is inconsistent with the Article VI treaty obligation made 30 years ago to negotiate in good faith on nuclear disarmament and very clearly violates the additional commitments undertaken when the NPT was indefinitely extended in 1995. Modernisation of existing arsenals is also viewed by many non-nuclear weapon states as inconsistent with Article VI commitments to pursue in good faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament. It is unusual to keep spending large sums of money on modernising something that one intends to dismantle and eliminate. The inference is thus that the modernisers have no intention of eliminating their nuclear forces. I will deal with modernisation in a later section.

ii) British and American officials and policy statements that have indicated a role for nuclear weapons against states believed to have acquired chemical or biological weapons. This position violates the ‘negative security assurances’ given in conjunction with the NPT in 1968 and updated in April 1995, whereby the nuclear weapon states promise not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear members of the NPT (unless they are acting in alliance with a nuclear power). The security assurances, although not in the direct text of the NPT, are associated so closely with the treaty through the negotiating record, that violations would be considered tantamount to treaty violations. Furthermore, both in 1968 and 1995, the assurances were given international legal force by being adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council.

iii) NATO nuclear sharing, whereby control of NATO (now only US) nuclear weapons in Europe can be transferred to non-nuclear-weapon states in time of war, is regarded by over 100 NPT parties as violating articles I and II of the Treaty.

I will deal with each of these in more detail below

i) Retaining nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future
The Strategic Defence Review contains the following statement: “Our own arsenal, following the further reductions described…, is the minimum necessary to provide for our security for the foreseeable future and very much smaller than those of the major nuclear powers. Considerable further reductions in the latter would be needed before further British reductions could become feasible.”

Such a statement, that deploying up to 200 nuclear warheads is the minimum necessary for British security “for the foreseeable future”, is a clear violation of the NPT, in which this country has undertaken an obligation to disarm.

The non-nuclear weapon countries were angry at the inadequate progress towards nuclear disarmament after 25 years and they reject the notion that the NPT allows Britain or any other country to possess any nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. While several countries welcomed the provisions in the SDR to reduce the number of warheads and provide information on the fissile materials stockpiles, they have been clear that the obligation under the NPT is nuclear disarmament, not the rationalisation of nuclear forces at lower levels.

At the 1995 NPT Conference many governments and diplomats from all over the world expressed concern had been that granting indefinite and unconditional extension, as pushed by the United States, Russia, Britain and France, would remove the leverage for full implementation of article VI on nuclear disarmament. Therefore they did not make indefinite extension unconditional, but linked it with two further decisions and a resolution which required meetings four out of every five years, with unusually specific Principals and Objectives against which progress would be measured. Many also underlined again and again that far from giving them an indefinite right to retain nuclear weapons, the NPT confers a binding obligation to eliminate them. Russia and China acknowledged this is their public statements. Yet only weeks after the Treaty was indefinitely extended, an unnamed British official was interviewed in the British Medical Journal (vol 311, 19 August, 1995) and quoted saying that the recent decision of the NPT parties to extend the treaty indefinitely extended the “right of the nuclear powers to keep their weapons”.

To my knowledge, no British official has challenged or refuted that the view quoted by the government official in the BMJ was that of the government of the time. The SDR statement about keeping nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future is merely a formalised version of this attitude. As made clear by the President of the 1995 Conference, Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, this position is contrary to the Treaty and to the understanding of the non-nuclear weapon parties and could jeopardise the non-proliferation regime.

The day after the 1995 Conference ended I interviewed Dhanapala on tape. He emphasised the importance of the obligation for nuclear disarmament: “If there is naked cynicism on the part of the nuclear weapon states and a total disregard on nuclear disarmament commitments… then we might see not just one or two countries for individual reasons wanting to opt out but a major threat of an exodus from the Treaty… That is a very grave danger. We must never ever let the Treaty be in jeopardy, and for that there has to be progress in nuclear disarmament”.

With a stated policy of retaining Trident or its successor at levels of 200 warheads for the foreseeable future, it is unsurprising that Britain has shown little practical enthusiasm for fulfilling its article VI obligation by making more significant progress on nuclear disarmament.

In May 1998 at an important meeting of NPT Parties, the British ambassador, Ian Soutar began his speech thus: “The global elimination of nuclear weapons… that simple phrase sums up the United Kingdom’s goal in the nuclear sphere”. But later in the same speech, he says that the role of the smaller nuclear weapon states is “not to become large nuclear weapon states”. That did not go down well with the non-nuclear weapon states who had renounced the option in 1970 and were still waiting for Britain and the others to fulfil their part of the bargain. Soutar stated that Britain recognised that “in due course” it would have to join the United States and Russia in negotiations, saying that “when satisfied with progress towards its goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons, it will ensure that British nuclear weapons are included in multilateral negotiations”. This is a slight improvement on the previous government’s position, that Britain would need to rely on nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future.

Britain’s obligation under article VI is not contingent on the actions of other countries, but is binding on this nation independently. Other countries are expected to abide by their Treaty obligations regardless of the actions of others, even if such actions are viewed as provocative or threatening. Egypt does not withdraw from or violate the NPT despite being very concerned about Israeli nuclear weapons. When Iraq was exposed as developing nuclear weapons and used Israel’s capabilities as an excuse Britain was at the forefront of those rejecting such a position and requiring that all of Iraq’s illegally developed capabilities and facilities should be dismantled and destroyed. According to the negotiating record Britain placed no caveat on its ratification of the NPT to say that it would only honour its commitments if certain others acted in a particular way. Unless the negotiating record reflects a different understanding, a nation’s obligations under a treaty are understood as being “binding on the respective states parties at all times and in all circumstances”.

ii) Threatening nuclear strike against non-nuclear adversaries
Britain, along with other nuclear-weapon states, has given binding undertakings that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the NPT “except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the UK, its dependent territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or on a State towards which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State”.

This statement, known as a negative security assurance, was reaffirmed and updated in 1995 as an incentive for non-nuclear-weapon states to agree to the indefinite extension of the NPT and is recognised in UN Security Council Resolution 984 of 11 April 1995. All NATO nuclear-weapon states have made identical commitments. The assurances do not apply to states such as India, Pakistan and Israel, who have never joined the NPT, but is viewed by NPT members as a necessary counterpart to their Treaty obligations not to acquire nuclear weapons for their own security. The only exception allowed in the Negative Security Assurance is for non-nuclear-weapon states acting “in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state”.

In recent years, Britain, along with the United States and NATO, has indicated that its policy is to include another exception that is not provided for in the Negative Security Assurance. This exception is for states that Britain believes to have acquired weapons of mass destruction (WMD), e.g. chemical or biological weapons.

This policy dates back to 1993, when then Secretary of State for Defence Malcolm Rifkind posed the question: “Would, for example, the possible use of chemical or biological weapons against us be seen as justifying the threat of our nuclear weapons?” Rifkind went on to add a proviso to the British Negative Security Assurance saying that, “the context in which we extend these assurances is one in which we attach ever increasing importance to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions”. The implication is that British nuclear targeting of non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT cannot be ruled out, if those states have failed to sign and ratify, or are suspected of breaching the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention or the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The current British Government has made similar statements indicating that it sees a role for nuclear weapons to deter the use of weapons of mass destruction. In 1997, Minister of State for Defence, John Reid stated that:

“The role of deterrence… must not be overlooked. Even if a potential aggressor has developed missiles with the range to strike at the United Kingdom, and nuclear, biological or chemical warheads to be delivered by those means, he would have to consider-he would do well to consider-the possible consequences of such an attack… It seems unlikely that a dictator who was willing to strike another country with weapons of mass destruction would be so trusting as to feel entirely sure that that country would not respond with the power at its disposal…”

Although Reid did not say explicitly that Britain would use nuclear weapons in this scenario, the reference to a country responding with the “power at its disposal”, suggests that the option is not ruled out.

In October 1998, Lord Judd asked a question in the House of Lords concerning Britain’s Negative Security Assurance, asking about Government policy “with regard to nuclear retaliation in the case of aggressor states contemplating the use of chemical and biological weapons”. Government spokesperson Lord Hoyle responded that: “… a state which chose to use chemical or biological weapons against the United Kingdom should expect us to exercise our right of self defence and to make a proportionate response.”

This policy is also reiterated in the Ministry of Defence’s 1999 Policy Paper on Defending Against the Threat from Biological and Chemical Weapons, which states that “we must also seek to deter the use of biological or chemical weapons by assuring a potential aggressor that… it will invite a proportionately serious response”.

As Britain no longer has biological or chemical weapons itself, the implication is that a “proportionate response” could involve either overwhelming conventional force, or nuclear weapons.

Britain’s policy is to retain the option of first use of nuclear weapons. According to the Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson, Britain opposes any declaration of “no first use” since it would “simplify any potential aggressor’s planning because the clear implication would be that that potential aggressor could mount a substantial conventional, or a chemical or biological assault, without any fear of a nuclear response.” Britain’s current policy is, therefore, not to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons against an enemy with chemical, biological, or simply “substantial” conventional forces.

The British government’s public policy is one of deliberate ambiguity, to increase “uncertainty”, in its statements concerning whether it might use nuclear weapons against chemical and biological proliferators. The fact that the use of nuclear weapons in this context is not ruled out suggests that Britain intends to keep all options open in its military planning, including the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT, in breach of its Negative Security Assurances.

iii) NATO Policy and Nuclear Sharing
Another aspect of NATO nuclear policy viewed by the large majority of NPT parties as undermining the NPT is nuclear sharing.

The NPT prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons from nuclear-weapon states to non-nuclear-weapon states. Article I of the Treaty states that:

“Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly or indirectly.”

Article II contains the correlating obligation on the non-nuclear weapon states not to receive the transfer of nuclear weapons etc.

Despite this clear prohibition of transfers not only of nuclear weapons but of control of nuclear weapons, and despite numerous objections raised by other NPT parties since 1995, the policy of nuclear sharing was reaffirmed at NATO’s 1999 Washington Summit, which stated that the Alliance continues to “require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements”.

Under nuclear sharing arrangements, six NATO non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT have US tactical nuclear weapons deployed on their territory: Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Each of these countries maintains a unit of dual capable aircraft fully trained to conduct NATO nuclear missions. In the event of war, nuclear weapons could be transferred to the pilots of these countries for use. Britain also hosts US nuclear free-fall bombs at RAF Lakenheath in East Anglia.

The US, Britain and their NATO allies argue that nuclear sharing is permitted under the NPT since it does not involve “any transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them unless and until a decision were made to go to war, at which time the treaty would no longer be controlling”. This interpretation that the NPT might not be binding during wartime remained classified during negotiation of the treaty. It was only made public during US Senate consideration of the treaty, after the NPT had been opened for signature. If it was not discussed and this understanding registered as part of the negotiating record, then the US interpretation does not comprise part of the ‘meaning’ of Articles I and II. Britain, the United States and NATO countries justify their arrangements by quoting from this understanding, but other NPT parties have rejected the validity of such reservations.

A number of non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT have queried the NATO interpretation of the treaty and put forward alternative views. At the 1999 NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting (PrepCom) for the 2000 NPT Review Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement (consisting of over 110 countries), Egypt, Indonesia and South Africa all spoke out against NATO’s policy of “nuclear sharing”. Proposals to close this “wartime loophole” were put forward in a working paper by Egypt. The view that the NPT should be binding “at all times and in all circumstances” was also advocated by the New Agenda Coalition (on behalf of 32 countries) and was contained in working papers put forward by the Chair of the meeting, Ambassador Camilo Reyes. These meetings are an important part of the strengthened review process put in place following 1995.

The compatibility of NATO nuclear sharing with the NPT was also questioned in the US Senate in 1998, during Senate consideration of NATO enlargement, and following criticism at the 1998 NPT PrepCom. Senator Harkin proposed an amendment that:

“The Senate declares that the President, as part of NATO’s ongoing Strategic Review, should examine the political and legal compatibility between— (1) current United States programs involving nuclear weapons cooperation with other NATO members; and (2) the obligations of the United States and the other NATO members under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, done at Washington, London, and Moscow on July 1, 1968.”

4) Nuclear Targetting and Nuclear Doctrine

Main points: British targetting is classified, but since we know that it is integrated with the United States and NATO, US documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act can shed some light. The US Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations clearly shows that the targets for nuclear strikes would not simply be military, but would include the destruction of key industries, bridges, television stations and so on “that contribute to the enemby’s ability to wage war”. There is also discussion of destroying an aggressor with overwhelming punishment to deter others. Such targetting strategies would result in indiscriminate large scale civilian casualties.

The sub-strategic role for Trident in the Government’s Strategic Defence Review (1998) rests on the belief that a limited nuclear strike would be possible without a “full scale nuclear exchange” (all out nuclear war). The concept is fundamentally flawed: a nuclear strike against a nuclear armed adversary would certainly result in nuclear retaliation; a nuclear strike against a non-nuclear armed adversary would be illegal and could cause a retaliation from a supporting state using weapons of mass destruction.

Britain’s Trident submarines are assigned to NATO to be used for the defence of the Alliance “except where the UK government may decide that supreme national interests are at stake”. NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) maintains the Alliance’s nuclear plans, which are based primarily on US and British submarine launched ballistic missiles assigned to NATO. British Trident submarine patrols are co-ordinated with Trident submarines from the US Atlantic Fleet. US Trident submarines visit Britain’s Faslane base, while British Trident submarines use the US Trident base at Kings Bay, Georgia for missile tests. British Trident missiles (which are identical to US Trident missiles) use the US Satellite Navigation system, NAVSTAR, for guidance. Britain also uses US intelligence data for targeting its weapons. British nuclear targeting is closely co-ordinated with the US, through NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group.

NATO nuclear strategy is based on deterrence and is believed to focus nuclear planning on “high value targets” that a potential enemy would be unwilling to want to risk. Few details are known about British and NATO nuclear targeting, since most of the relevant documents are classified. Documents are available in the US, through the US Freedom of Information Act, which show a wide range of nuclear targets on the territory of potential enemies. Since the targetting for Trident will be integrated with those of the United States, consideration of the US Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations gives a reliable sense of the kind of targets Trident might be intended for.

US Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations
“Enemy combat forces and facilities that may be likely targets for nuclear strikes are:

WMD and their delivery systems, as well as associated command and control, production, and logistical support units
Ground combat units and their associated command and control and support units
Air defense facilities and support installations
Naval installations, combat vessels, and associated support facilities and command and control capabilities
Nonstate actors (facilities and operations centers) that possess WMD
Underground facilities.”
Similarly, US Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, states that “several strategies or factors must be considered in planning joint nuclear operations:

Countervalue Targeting… the destruction or neutralization of selected enemy military and military-related activities, such as industries, resources, and/or institutions that contribute to the enemy’s ability to wage war…
Counterforce Targeting… typical counterforce targets include bomber bases, ballistic missile submarine bases, ICBM [Intercontinental Ballistic Missile] silos, antiballistic and air defense installations, C2 [command and control] centers, and WMD storage facilities…”
Countervalue targeting in particular raises the spectre of Trident being used for the kind of targets bombed in Yugoslavia during the recent war: television stations, factories, bridges and so on, i.e. places where civilians work. But the fact is that nuclear weapons used against almost all the targets identified by the US Joint Theater Nuclear Doctrines would result in a large loss of civilian life. In almost all cases it would be impossible to distinguish between civilian and military targets and the size of the explosions would result in a large area of radioactive contamination. It would be impossible to have such targets and comply with international law, which prohibits the indiscriminate killing and maiming of civilians.

A document from US Strategic Command goes further, outlining targeting options as “strategic weaponry (both deployed and in storage or productions), other military capabilities, and war-supporting industry, along with national leadership”. The paper continues that it may also be necessary “to consider other unique motivators of either a society or its leaders” What does this mean? cultural sites, media centres, political headquarters, homes? The document also criticises “the difficulty we have caused ourselves in putting forward declaratory policies such as the ‘Negative Security Assurances’, which were put forward to encourage nations to sign up for the Nonproliferation Treaty”. Instead it advocates a policy of deliberate ambiguity, similar to Britain’s, that the US should “communicate, specifically, what we want to deter without saying what is permitted”.

Such a wide range of nuclear targets, indicates that US nuclear strategy goes well beyond deterrence into the area of nuclear war fighting. Targeting on this scale would inevitably result in large scale civilian casualties in the event of nuclear weapons being used either through a failure of deterrence or by accident. The document from US Strategic Command talks about nuclear weapons as the “capability to create a fear of ‘national extinction'”.

Moreover it states “should we ever fail to deter such an aggressor [referring to Iraq and North Korea], we must make good on our deterrent statement in such a convincing way that the message to others will be so immediately discernible as to bolster deterrence thereafter”. This policy amounts to punishment in order to deter others, which is also contrary to international law and well outside the only possible use the ICJ advisory opinion did not rule out, i.e. when the very survival of a state is at stake.

Britain’s nuclear doctrine: the Conservative view
From the beginning, the British concept of deterrence was based on a readiness to use nuclear weapons to defend British territory, its armed forces, or its interests in the event of attack or coercion by an adversary with nuclear weapons or with significant or overwhelming conventional strength. NATO planning has envisaged the early first use of nuclear weapons and limited war-fighting using a variety of different weapons, as exemplified by the ‘tripwire policy’ of the 1950s and 1960s, which prepared for a massive nuclear response if it appeared that the Soviet Union was planning war or invasion, especially in Europe. The deployment of British tactical nuclear weapons in Germany was intended to add to US nuclear forces in Europe and provide an extended deterrence posture to NATO allies.

The build up of Soviet nuclear capabilities by the early 1960s led to the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which is arguably the closest NATO has ever come to a genuine policy of nuclear deterrence. MAD upped the stakes from the destruction of industrial and military infrastructure to the mutual annihilation of cities and populations. Such a stand-off was intolerable to US nuclear planners, who by 1968 had developed the doctrine of ‘flexible response’ and the weapons to match. Flexible response envisaged the selective use of tactical weapons in the early stages of conflict, as well as a much larger general nuclear response against Soviet targets in the event of escalation.

However, not all British military planners were convinced by the rationale for nuclear weapon use. The Admiral of the Fleet, Earl Mountbatten, when serving as the Chief of Defence Staff from 1961-5, dismissed flexible response and the notion of using nuclear weapons for ‘tactical or theatre war’. Mountbatten also criticised deterrence, warning of the dangers of uncertainty and wrong calculations: ‘I know how impossible it is to pursue military operations in accordance with fixed plans and agreements. In warfare the unexpected is the rule…’. Despite the opposition of many senior military officers, British nuclear planning has considered the possibility of deploying nuclear weapons in regional conflicts. Moreover, British forces are now known to have carried nuclear weapons into the vicinity of several war-zones, including the 1982 British-Argentine War over the Falklands Islands and the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq.

In November 1993, Malcolm Rifkind, who was then the Secretary of State for Defence (appointed Foreign Secretary the following year) delivered a major policy speech to the Centre for Defence Studies, which attached a question mark to the title: UK Defence Strategy: A Continuing Role for Nuclear Weapons?

Rifkind argued that: “Our analysis of deterrence, and the contribution of nuclear weapons to it, now has to relate to a new context.” In making the case for maintaining British nuclear forces, Rifkind utilised both traditional arguments and new threat concerns. Rifkind’s arguments may be summarised thus:

(1) Nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented;

(2) Russia is still the potential aggressor: “There is no question that Russia will remain the pre-eminent military power in Europe. She will retain very substantial military forces, and will continue to be a nuclear superpower…decisions about our own future force structures and postures should take into careful account what has proved hitherto to be successful in maintaining stability in the presence of Russia’s military strength.”

(3) Current positive developments in international relations are not necessarily irreversible;

(4) A ‘war-prevention’ role for nuclear weapons is still necessary (this appears to be a version of the argument that nuclear weapons kept the peace in Europe for 50 years);

(5) A new East-West threat and the renationalisation of defence, which Rifkind described as “a diminishing of commitment to collective security and a re-emergence of purely national policies”, may emerge in the future;

(6) The Atlantic Alliance must be maintained;

(7) Nuclear policy must take into consideration European defence issues and closer Franco-British cooperation and cohesion in nuclear matters;

(8) Nuclear weapons are necessary to deter potential proliferators and to deter chemical or biological attack.

Arguing that the basic ideas had not changed, Rifkind said that “[D]eterrence is about sustaining in the mind of the potential aggressor a belief that our use of the weapons could not prudently be altogether discounted; and this in turn requires that the hypothetical use should be credibly proportionate to the importance to us of the interests which aggression would damage.” He acknowledged that “Those conditions may not be so obviously met in future as they seemed to be in the central setting of the Cold War… There will be more room for uncertainty over the nature and scale of aggression that would justify the threat of a nuclear response.” Rifkind then questioned whether, in the absence of an “established nuclear deterrent relationship” such as the East-West blocs of the Cold War, “an intended deterrent would work in the way intended,” acknowledging that it might have “some unpredictable and perhaps counter-productive consequence”.

In addition to nuclear deterrence, Rifkind addressed two other potential roles for nuclear weapons: deterring other weapons of mass destruction, specifically chemical and biological; and a war-fighting role for low yield ‘usable’ nuclear weapons, including as a ‘warning shot’ or ‘shot across the bows’.

Labour nuclear doctrine: The 1998 Strategic Defence Review
The best basis we have for considering how or whether nuclear doctrine and policy have changed with the advent of the Labour government in 1997 is the government’s Strategic Defence Review, which was published in July 1998.

The brief given to the Strategic Defence Review was to assess the role and disposition of Britain’s armed forces to fulfil defence requirements determined within the framework of the government’s overall foreign policy. In announcing the review, Defence Secretary George Robertson promised that the deployment of Trident was inviolate, saying that “our national nuclear deterrent” and commitment to NATO were “bottom lines”. By making these pledges, Robertson severely limited the degree to which nuclear policy could be properly scrutinised.

Not unsurprisingly, under such terms, nuclear policy occupied a rather small part in the SDR. Labour confirmed its pre-election pledge to cut Trident warheads to Polaris numbers, but chose to use the early Polaris figures of 48 per submarine rather than the later Polaris-Chevaline deployment of 32 per boat. The overall stockpile was announced to be below 200 warheads. (It is assumed there would be 48 per operational submarine, plus an additional 48 in storage, ‘just in case’) If the SDR had based its figures on what was ‘currently deployed on Polaris’, as Robin Cook had called for in 1995, the warhead complement could have been brought down to around 128. As expected, however, the SDR also announced cancellation of the remaining seven Trident D-5 missiles on order from the United States, leaving Britain with 58 rather than the planned 65 missile bodies.

Fewer nuclear weapons are of course better than more, but at around 192 warheads of around 100 kt, Britain’s nuclear forces still pack a potential explosive power of more than 19 megatons, that is the equivalent of 19 million tonnes of TNT, or nearly 1500 times the Hiroshima bomb. The SDR underlined that the new policy represents a reduction of more than 70 percent in the potential explosive power of Britain’s nuclear forces since the end of the Cold War. Explosive power, however, does not necessarily equate with potential damage: single large bombs or lots of nuclear artillery shells used on a battlefield would kill fewer people and wreak less havoc than Trident-type medium-sized (100 kt) multiple warheads, independently targeted as part of a strategic strike force.

Labour also announced that its nuclear forces were on a “reduced day-to-day alert state”, not targeted, and normally at “several days ‘notice to fire'”. This appears to be an unverifiable operational decision, rather than technical de-alerting. It provides a welcome protection against accidental, hair trigger or unauthorised firing, but falls a long way short of the kind of confidence-building measures and operational marginalisation of nuclear weapons that had been called for the Canberra Commission and in numerous UN resolutions. It can be quickly reversed, without detection or verification. Despite the MOD’s actual failure to provide continuous 24-hour patrols during the past decade, Labour confirmed the aim of having at least one Trident submarine at sea at all times. The argument for mothballing the fourth submarine was rejected. All four will be brought into service, with the intention of having two in port while one is on patrol. The implication is that deterrence requires continuous readiness, if not hair trigger alert. Relying on arguments about ‘surprise attack’ and potential misunderstandings, the SDR rejected proposals for ‘de-weaponising’ Trident by separating and storing the warheads on land. On the contrary, it pledges to “ensure that we can restore a higher state of alert should this become necessary at any time.”

Stating that the “credibility of deterrence also depends on retaining an option for a limited strike that would not automatically lead to a full scale nuclear exchange”, the SDR proposed a ‘sub-strategic’ role for Trident, but fails to say what that might look like. For that, we have to go back to Rifkind’s arguments about a “shot across the bow” to deter further aggression. There are two core problems with such a concept: i) where to conduct a ‘warning shot’ so that civilians are not endangered; and ii) how, in the uncertain context of a hotting-up conflict, Britain would ensure that the aggressor interpreted a sub-strategic nuclear ‘shot’ from Trident as a warning rather than a nuclear attack. Any sub-strategic firing of Trident as a ‘warning’ against another nuclear weapon possessor would almost certainly cause a massive nuclear retaliation and all out war, since pre-emption requires very fast decision-making. Used against a country which did not possess nuclear weapons, a nuclear warning shot would violate international law and Britain’s own security assurances, which are regarded as legally binding as they have been endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council.

Although the SDR states that “the Government wishes to see a safer world in which there is no place for nuclear weapons”, it clearly does not envisage Britain giving them up any time soon: “while large nuclear arsenals and risks of proliferation remain, our minimum deterrent remains a necessary element of our security”. Elsewhere, the SDR refers to nuclear deterrence as “longer term insurance” for NATO.

5) British Cooperation with US and France

Main points: Britain intends to maintain a minimum capability to design and produce a successor to Trident. Documents from AWE Aldermaston clearly show an increased level of cooperation between UK, France and the United States on maintaining arsenals, including design capabilities for a successor to Trident. Britain has recently announced its investment in a new US laser facility intended to provide information for designing enhanced nuclear weapons. Anglo-French cooperation includes simulations and laboratory experiments. They intend to minimise the effect of giving up nuclear testing, thereby circumventing the spirit and purpose of the CTBT.

Britain intends to maintain “a minimum capability to design and produce a successor to Trident should this prove necessary”.

Britain signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in September 1996 and ratified in April 1998, but the Treaty has not yet entered into force. The preamble of the Treaty contains the following paragraph: “Recognizing that the cessation of all nuclear weapon test explosions and all other nuclear explosions, by constraining the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and ending the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons, constitutes an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects…”

The negotiating record shows that this preambular paragraph was a greatly weakened compromise. During past decades it had been assumed that a test ban treaty would ipso facto end the qualitative arms race as it was deemed highly unlikely that any military would have confidence in deploying weapons which had not been fully tested. By the time the test ban treaty was concluded, however, it was clear that at least the United States (and to a lesser degree the other nuclear powers) had made technological advances that would enable them to accomplish most if not all of the testing in the laboratories. The United States also built a very sophisticated facility as part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), designed to enhance the laboratory testing and design capabilities for nuclear weapons.

During the CTBT negotiations, a number of countries had backed proposals by Pakistan and India which would have stated that an objective and purpose of the Treaty would be to end the qualitative improvement and development of nuclear weapon systems and prevent the development of new kinds of nuclear weapons.

Though they pushed hard, the non-aligned countries were unsuccessful, because of concerted opposition from the United States, Britain and France. The weapon states were only prepared to accept the concept of preventing qualitative development as a consequence of the halting testing rather than an aspiration or objective. Having succeeded in shifting the emphasis, the weapon states now argue that laboratory testing is not prohibited in the treaty and it is simply a fact of life if technological advance has now made it possible for them to engage in qualitative improvement and development without testing.

Most states continue to express concern that such laboratory experiments, including sub-critical tests of nuclear warheads, violate the spirit of the Treaty, if not its letter.

The mission of Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment is “to provide the national capability for nuclear warheads”. In 1996, the UK Ministry of Defence reported that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty had necessitated changes in the way in which the it sustained “confidence both in our underwriting of in-service weapons and in our ability to develop new warheads which may be required in the future… we are now looking to a further enhancement of ‘above ground’ experiments and computer simulation to provide the necessary confidence.”

Britain co-operates closely with France and the US on stockpile stewardship. One of the Atomic Weapons Establishments’ key areas of work is “warhead design and assessment capability, supporting Trident, its possible successor, and international exchanges”.

In 1994, MoD Assistant Chief Scientific Adviser (Nuclear), Tony Quigley, told the House of Commons Defence Committee that the MoD was “talking actively with the Americans, and with the French…, on how to co-operate effectively in the use of… [stockpile stewardship] facilities”. This work includes above ground experiments, involving the use of explosives but no nuclear yield: some using explosives, some using lasers, and some computer simulations.

In 1995, the MoD also reported: “… we have for many years employed a range of techniques such as above ground experiments, work with lasers and computer simulation in addition to underground testing to underwrite the safety and reliability of our weapons stockpile. In the absence of testing we intend to develop our experimental techniques and facilities in such areas, and also to exploit the large quantities of data that we have acquired from past underground testing and other work. These will be progressive developments, undertaken in continuing co-operation with the United States, which will contribute to the safe stewardship of Trident throughout its service life as well as to sustaining capabilities to meet future requirements. We have also had some discussions with the French authorities on issues related to nuclear weapons stewardship…”

In the last year, nuclear co-operation with France and the US has been very active. In the last year, British nuclear weapon scientists made over 235 visits to their US counterparts, almost double the number in previous years. Similarly visits by US and French nuclear scientists to Aldermaston are significantly up to 110 and 82 visits respectively.

US-British nuclear co-operation
To facilitate exchanges of information between the US and Britain, Britain runs Atomic Co-ordinating Offices in London and Washington. There are currently five British personnel stationed in the US as part of the 1958 Agreement. In addition, three Atomic Weapons Establishment employees are there on short-term appointments, and a further 15 British personnel are in the USA as part of the Polaris Sales Agreement, as amended for Trident. There are also four US employees in the UK as part of the Polaris Sales Agreement, as amended for Trident.

Information is exchanged in a variety of ways, including Joint Working Groups (JOWOGs) and Exchanges of Information by Visit and Report (EIVRs). A number of Joint Working Groups currently operate under the terms of the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement. These exchange technical information on a comprehensive list of subjects:

Radiation Simulation and Kinetic Effects Technology
Energetic Materials
Test Monitoring
Nuclear Materials
Warhead Electrical Components and Technologies
Non-Nuclear Materials
Nuclear Counter-Terrorism Technology Facilities
Nuclear Weapons Engineering
Nuclear Warhead Physics
Computational Technology
Aircraft, Missile and Space System Hardening
Laboratory Plasma Physics
Manufacturing Practices
Nuclear Weapon Accident Response Technology
Nuclear Weapon Code Development
Nuclear Weapon Environment and Damage Effects.
One US project which is of particular interest to the UK is the SLBM Warhead Protection Program (SWPP), a collaboration between the US Navy and the Department of Energy. The SWPP was established to “maintain the capability to jointly develop replacement nuclear warheads for the W76/Mk4 and W88/Mk5 should new warheads be needed in the future”. The design of the British Trident warhead is closely based on the US W76/Mk4, so the UK is following this programme closely.

Britain has also recently announced that it is investing in the US National Ignition Facility, a high powered laser that will be used as part of the US stockpile stewardship programme to study inertial confinement fusion.

Franco-British Nuclear Co-operation
There are also at least thirteen Anglo-French working groups, which co-ordinate the two countries military research efforts. Working Groups relevant to nuclear co-operation include: WG03 – Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence; WG07 – Energetic Materials; WG10 – Nuclear Blast Effects; and WG13 – Directed Energy Technology.

In May 1995 the UK MOD revealed that technical discussions had been held with France on such questions as hydrodynamics experiments, laser plasma physics, computer simulation and possible arrangements for peer review. These discussions have involved a number of reciprocal visits. Stockpile stewardship is also a major component of a 1996 Memorandum of Agreement between the US and France.

The French nuclear simulation programme, which is part of PALEN, is intended to guarantee both the safety and reliability its current nuclear weapons and those that replace them, along with assuring the long term reliability of its deterrence policy. Simulation will allow evaluation of the effects of ageing on the weapons and help to maintain the lifetime of the weapons. Simulation will be used, together with data from the last French testing campaign, to complete the warheads for the ASMP Plus missile and for the M51 missile.

France is building a number of new facilities for stockpile stewardship including a Megajoule laser, which will be located at Barp, in Gironde, for research in the thermonuclear field. The Megajoule laser will allow nuclear fusion of very small quantities of material, in order to measure the physical processes at work. The first tests of the Megajoule laser are not expected until 2006.

France is also building the AIRIX radiographic machine at Moronvilliers, in Champagne, which will study the non-nuclear functioning of the weapons, with the help of experiments in which the nuclear materials will be replaced by inert material. AIRIX is expected to be operational around 1999.

6) Nuclear Fuel Cycle leading to the production and deployment of nuclear weapons

Main points: from uranium mining, through milling, enriching, plutonium reprocessing, and particularly nuclear testing, the history of nuclear weapon production has been a catalogue of radioactive leaks and accidents, endangering the health of workers and communities adjacent to the production and test sites and contaminating the environment, with effects that will last for thousands of years. I summarise the production and testing that led up to British Trident, with some information on serious accidents and problems, but these are by no means complete, because no systematic health and environmental studies have been permitted.

The worldwide contamination from the production, testing and deployment of nuclear weapons is still being documented. Much of the information has been kept from public scrutiny on grounds of national security. As the Soviet Union has been opened, some horrific stories have emerged of large scale accidents, contaminations and radiation-related deaths. Information has also shown that the US nuclear production sites have had major problems, and have taken dangerous short cuts with a callous disregard for public safety. What was known up to 1993 has been compiled into a book published by MIT Press: Nuclear Wastelands, the result of a Special Commission of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. I co-authored the chapter on the United Kingdom. Below I have summarised the nuclear fuel cycle leading directly to Trident.

Trident warhead basics
Nuclear weapons are made with either highly enriched uranium or plutonium. Uranium occurs naturally, but not in a form usable for nuclear weapons. The very powerful explosion in nuclear weapons is caused by the fission of uranium-235 or plutonium-239. Natural uranium consists mostly of uranium-238, which is used in nuclear power reactors and, after a complex process of fuel burning and reprocessing, is turned into plutonium-239. Natural uranium also contains a small proportion of uranium-235. The enrichment process greatly increases the ratio of U-235 relative to U-238. This ‘highly enriched uranium’ is then used in nuclear weapon explosions.

In simple terms, the plutonium or highly enriched uranium is compressed so that a fission reaction occurs in which neutrons bombard the nuclei, which split, releasing energy. When the fission reactions are sufficiently frequent and rapid, they cause a quickly escalating chain reaction. In nuclear power, the chain reaction is carefully controlled and harnessed, except when there mistakes are made, such as the accidents of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. In nuclear weapons, the chain reaction is allowed to go ‘critical’ – i.e. out of control – causing a massive explosion equivalent to thousands of tonnes of TNT, with violent heat, blast and devastation.

Trident warheads are supposed to be of British design, and they are manufactured at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and assembled at AWE Burghfield, both in Berkshire. The exact design is of course classified, but in order to fit the US-built Trident II missiles it is certain that British Trident warheads closely resemble the W-76 warheads deployed on US Trident and were therefore designed, tested and produced in close collaboration with the United States. Though they may vary in size, most will be 100 kilotonnes, meaning that each warhead contains the explosive power of 100 thousand times the explosive power of a tonne of TNT. The warheads use plutonium as the main fissile material and boost the explosion with tritium gas, which makes it possible to create larger explosions from smaller warheads, a necessity for missile delivery.

Uranium mining
First uranium has to be mined. Britain has negligible naturally occurring uranium. Canada and Australia placed restrictions on their uranium, restricting it to civilian use. Therefore most of the uranium used in British nuclear weapons from the 1960s on was taken from the Rössing mine in Namibia, which was operated by the UK-based multinational company Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ). The Rössing mine played a key economic role in South Africa’s illegal occupation of Namibia, which ended when Namibia became independent in 1990. British imports from occupied Namibia breached UN Decree No 1 for the Protection of the Natural Resources of Namibia. Britain also defied UN security council resolutions and the International Court of Justice. By 1987, illegally acquired Namibian and South African uranium was two-thirds of the work carried out at BNFL Springfields, in Lancashire. The government admitted to the illegal imports in 1987.

Most uranium mining is at open-pit and underground mines, from which the ore is taken to nearby mills. Uranium mining produces large quantities of waste that poses “a substantial health hazard”.

Uranium milling
The uranium then has to be refined. The first refining step is milling, in which the ore is crushed and mixed with water to produce a fine grained mixture. It is then acid-leached or alkaline-leached to convert to a soluble form. It is put through ion exchangers to maximise the uranium content, after which impurities are removed and the product is roasted into yellowcake, U308. The waste, called tailings consists of a slurry 40% solid, 60% liquid. It is radioactive and also contains toxic chemicals such as chlorides, sulphates and heavy metals (especially chromium, mercury, arsenic). A particular hazard at the Rössing mine was the leaching of the radioactive and toxic tailings into rivers and water tables, contaminating water supplies for the workers’ dormitories and nearby villages and towns.

Health risks from uranium mining and milling
Uranium mining and milling have resulted in serious health damage to uranium miners.

Uranium poses two kinds of risk:

radiological: uranium ore emits gamma radiation. If inhaled or ingested uranium is extremely dangerous if it lodges in lungs or guts, where it will emit alpha radiation, linked as a direct cause of cancer over periods 15-40 years. The mining and milling processes release uranium dust, which is easily breathed in or swallowed by those working in uranium mining and milling.
toxic: kidney damage is a significant consequence of uranium exposure, even at low levels.
Mercury vapour exposure can damage the lungs and central nervous system with a range of lung, kidney and neuropsychological damage.

Arsenic exposure is a problem for uranium mining and milling and can occur through inhalation or ingestion. At high doses, arsenic is an acute poison, leading to severe blood, brain, heart, kidney and gastrointestinal tract injury. Cancer of the skin, lungs, bladder and liver are associated with low levels of exposure to arsenic.

Lung cancer is the best known effect of uranium mining, most likely due to inhalation of radon decay products which are deposited on the bronchial walls, where they emit alpha radiation that damages the nearby tissues and cells. Studies documented in ‘Nuclear Wastelands’ have also documented increases in skin cancers and leukaemia among uranium miners and their families living near the mines, with weaker evidence correlating stomach cancers and birth defects.

Uranium conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication
The next step involves the mechanical and chemical processing of uranium compounds and metal. Yellowcake is converted to uranium hexafluoride. Enrichment is achieved by gaseous diffusion or gas centrifuge. Enriched uranium is fabricated into fuel rods or further enriched to become weapons-usable.

Health risks from uranium conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication Uranium hexafluoride is radioactive, highly corrosive and toxic.

In Britain, Springfields, near Salwick in Lancashire, operated by British Nuclear Fuels, processes uranium ore concentrates into uranium metal fuel for Magnox reactors or converts the yellowcake to uranium hexafluoride. The site for enrichment was a plant shared between BNFL and the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Capenhurst in Cheshire, using the gaseous diffusion method. AWE Cardiff (formerly Llanishen) was responsible for uranium processing and fuel fabrication.

Although uranium is radioactive, the major hazards from these processes are associated with the toxicity and flammability of the chemicals used. The plant discharged waste ore constituents and decay products of thorium and uranium down a pipeline to the River Ribble. Since 1988, Springfields has discharged more beta-emitting radioactivity than Sellafield and has frequently exceeded the annual permitted discharged by significant amounts.

Some recorded problems at Springfields
In the mid 1970s ewes in fields through which the discharge pipe ran began aborting their lambs and dying. BNFL denied responsibility but eventually compensated the farmers.
In August 1982 cattle began dying on two adjacent farms, fish in the rivers and ponds were killed, paint on buildings facing the factory blistered and flaked, land and apple trees were scorched. Local press reported a MAFF inspector concluding that “All the evidence does tend to point to the chimneys at Springfields because these farms are downwind”.
In April 1985 several kilograms of uranium washed into a farm stream which was dredged by BNFL without informing the farmer until much later.
Analysis of local press over a random two-year period ,1987 to 1988, showed several fires and explosions at Springfields, suggesting that these were common problems.
In 1986, thousands of metal boxes containing radioactive dust were mistakenly sent to a scrap yard in Liverpool
In 1988 the toxic uranyl nitrate was discharged into the local public sewerage system.
Discharges from Springfields have been the highest recorded at any UK plant.
Some recorded problems at AWE Cardiff
AWE Cardiff, in the suburb of Llanishen, a few miles from the city centre, uses beryllium and depleted uranium to manufacture crucial components of British nuclear weapons including DU tampers, beryllium reflectors and DU blankets.

In 1983 it was revealed that 50 tonnes of natural or depleted uranium was held at AWE Cardiff, despite the plant’s proximity to the city.

Records were not kept prior to 1970 and were scrappy thereafter.

Between 1970 and 1982 there were 13 incidents involving major injury but no fatality, and 7 ‘dangerous occurrences’, including fires. There were also 434 incidents resulting in more than three days absence from work for involved personnel. It is difficult getting information on what these were.

Plutonium Reprocessing
Trident uses plutonium-239 as its main explosive fuel. Plutonium-239 does not occur naturally. First a nuclear production reactor transmutes uranium-238 into plutonium-239. Many nuclear power reactors create plutonium-239 as a waste by-product of the generation of electricity. Since this plutonium is mixed up with other waste products, which would make a nuclear explosion ‘inefficient’, the plutonium-239 has to be chemically separated, by a method called reprocessing. The Windscale-Sellafield plant in Cumbria is one of the world’s largest reprocessing plants.

Wastes from reprocessing

Reprocessing to extract plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel results in some very dangerous emissions and radioactive wastes:

highly radioactive wastes: these high level wastes are liquid and are stored in tanks;
wastes from decladdding the fuel rods: if the decladding process is chemical, these wastes are liquid. In the ‘shear leach’ process, the wastes are solid. Both are radioactive, but the solid wastes are particularly highly radioactive;
low level radioactive waste: produced in large volumes from purifying plutonium and uranium;
gaseous emissions from reprocessing: principally krypton-85 and iodine-131;
degradation products of solvents;
resins, sludges and other wastes.
Hazards of reprocessing

Reprocessing poses many serious risks to the workforce, people living nearby or on shores of seas or waterways into which wastes are dumped, and the environment. Reprocessing also poses a risk of catastrophic fires or waste tank explosions, such as have occurred in 1957 at Sellafield and at Chelyabinsk-65 in Russia.

Some recorded problems at Windscale/Sellafield
Windscale/Sellafield was established on the coast of West Cumbria and began reprocessing fuel to extract plutonium for the British nuclear weapons programme in 1951.

The most serious was the reactor fire in Pile Number 1 on 10 October 1957, which lasted for 24 hours and resulted in widespread contamination. Milk from local farms was so heavily contaminated with iodine-131 that it had to be collected and dumped for several weeks but local people were not informed of the real dangers.
>From 1950-1986 over 250 safety related accidents were recorded at the Sellafield site, at least two of which required the shut down of major facilities.
There have been large releases of radioactivity from Sellafield due to leaks, some of which lasted for many years before being detected, such as the leak discovered in 1976 by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate which they concluded had been active since 1972, resulting in very large amounts of radioactivity contaminating the area
Discharges in 1983 formed a slick that washed ashore. The contamination of seaweed and flotsam was so high that the Department of the Environment warned the public not to use the beaches along a 12 mile stretch for almost a year.
From March to May 1992, BNFL found radioactive single-celled coral like organisms with high levels of radioactivity.
Discharges from Sellafield have contaminated significant parts of the Irish Sea, and clusters of downs syndrome births and childhood leukaemia have been noted along the East Coast of Ireland, as well as in the vicinity of Sellafield.
High levels of radioactive dust have been found in houses in the local village of Seascale.
Plutonium fabrication
The core of British nuclear weapons research and development is at two facilities in Berkshire, AWE Aldermaston, which also machines the plutonium into the “pits” for nuclear warheads and AWE Burghfield, which assembles the warheads, adding in the chemical explosives. Despite the official secrecy which hampers access to information, Aldermaston’s safety record has caused public concern on a number of occasions, with workers being contaminated during fires and accidents.

At least eight workers with plutonium overdoses died of illnesses linked with radioactive exposure;
there have been over 70 claims for compensation filed by AWE workers and their families who believe they suffered radiation-linked illnesses.
Some Recorded Problems at AWE Aldermaston
Between 1955 and 1992, Greenpeace chronicled:

22 fires involving radioactive materials in top security ‘A Area’;
5 serious explosions causing fatalities and wrecking buildings and equipment;
4 fires involving beryllium, exposure to which can cause lung disease;
9 electrical fires in areas subject to explosion;
2 serious accidents involving radioactive tritium;
2 serious incidents involving lithium, which is not radioactive but is highly toxic;
a serious leak of radioactive waste from a discharge pipe running near a school in a nearby village. Aldermaston discharges low level liquid radioactive waste into the River Thames. The 40 year old underground pipe was found to have developed leaks in four places, allowing radioactive waste to seep into the soil.
several leaks into the atmosphere, amounts unknown.
Studies conducted at various times, in conjunction with local hospitals have shown clusters of increased levels of childhood cancer around both Sellafield and AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield. There have also been raised levels of prostate cancer among contaminated workers.

7) Nuclear Testing

While I worked at Greenpeace I oversaw the research and publication of studies into the effects of nuclear testing and contributed to other studies, including the most authoritative summary of the health and environmental effects of nuclear testing, which was published by the Special Commission of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in 1991 with the name Radioactive Heaven and Earth.

Britain conducted two kinds of nuclear tests for its weapons programme: from 1952 -1963 the major testing was above ground – the mushroom cloud rising into the atmosphere. Britain’s atmospheric tests were conducted in the Pacific or Australia.

After the ‘Partial Test Ban Treaty’ banned testing in the atmosphere, under water and outer space in 1963, the United States offered Britain the test site it used in Nevada.

Britain conducted 45 nuclear tests before agreeing to a total ban in 1996. Of these, 21 were conducted in the atmosphere and 24 underground. Between its first test on October 3rd 1952 and 1957, Britain conducted 12 tests in Australia, as well as what were called ‘minor trials’ at Maralinga, a sacred site and roaming ground for Aboriginal people. Although the few white farms in the region were evacuated and well compensated, a number of Aboriginals remained within the heavily contaminated areas because care was not taken to warn or evacuate them. The ‘minor trials’ were actually extensive ‘plutonium dispersion’ tests intended to gauge the effects of a major fire or accident involving plutonium and also to look at the possibility of ‘dirty bombs’, i.e. bombs that contaminate cities without an actual nuclear explosion.

Nine further atmospheric tests were conducted on Malden and Christmas Islands in the Pacific. Malden Island remains uninhabited. The people of Christmas Island were only evacuated some years after the last test and the island was then subjected to clean-up operations for three years. The Kiribati government, which covers many coral atolls, including Christmas Island, has asked the British government for an independent health study and compensation, but neither has been granted.

Australian Royal Commission on British Nuclear Tests
After many years of public demand, Australia eventually set up a Royal Commission into British Tests in Australia, which reported in November 1985. The Commission took eyewitness accounts which spoke of a “black mist” 116 miles from the detonation point of a test (called ‘ground zero’). Fallout from a British test in October 1956 contaminated Adelaide. British and American armed forces were sent into fallout clouds and close to the test site to retrieve equipment. Forces personnel were placed in trenches and even out in the open closer than two miles from detonation in some of the tests and told to get “real experience of nuclear war”. Others were ordered to march and crawl through radioactively contaminated areas. Some were required to scrub and decontaminate equipment without being given adequate equipment or warning information. In view of the lapse of time and the fact that the contaminated Aboriginal people were nomadic and so few have been traced, the attempts to study the health effects were flawed. Nevertheless the Royal Commission concluded that “By means of the detonations of the major trials and the deposition of fallout across Australia, it is probably that cancers which would not otherwise have occurred have been caused in the Australian population. Their exposure to radiation as participants in the trial programme has increased the risk of cancer among ‘nuclear veterans’.”

Among 22, 347 British test veterans studied by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), there were 406 cancer deaths, with 22 cases of leukaemia and six cases of multiple myeloma; leukaemia and myeloma are particularly associated with radioactive contamination. As the health studies are regarded as ‘inconclusive, of many compensation claims, only a few have been granted.

More than 30 years later there were still serious radiological and toxic problems at Maralinga. These include plutonium-239 scattered and buried in pits, beryllium and uranium contamination and several sites, and the leaching of radioactive contaminants into the water table and river systems. Since plutonium-239 has a half life of over 24,000 years (which means that over 24,000 half of it decays and loses its radioactivity), the test sites, and Maralinga in particular, will remain hazardous for many millennia. The Royal Commission recommended that Britain should bear the cost of cleaning up the Maralinga site. Though this has been done, at very heavy cost to the British taxpayers, parts of the area are still considered unsafe.

British testing in the Pacific
When Britain exploded its ‘smaller’ nuclear bombs, the Micronesian inhabitants of Christmas island were told to protect their eyes from the flash and to leave doors and shutters open to reduce damage from blast. The United States also used Christmas islands for a serious of larger tests, which islanders saw as “fire in the sky”. After the tests, the islanders were advised to avoid their local staple foods of coconut and fish. The US government supplied them with canned food for three months.

As with the tests in Australia, some service personnel, including civilians, were assembled at different parts of Christmas Island to watch the tests. Additionally, about 2,000 naval personnel were stationed on ships about 25 miles from the detonation point and told to face away from the explosion for the first 5 seconds. ‘Sniffer’ aircraft were flown through the clouds just minutes after the explosion, collecting samples. On landing the ‘volunteer’ pilots were washed, scrubbed and even shaved. Those decontaminating the aircraft and equipment by hosing and scrubbing with sea water were identified by the Ministry of Defence as “liable to have been exposed to radiation”. Researchers commissioned by a BBC television programme in 1983 noted “an abnormally high incidence of leukaemia” and other cancers in servicemen who had been at Christmas Island.

Underground nuclear testing
The 24 underground nuclear tests, which include the tests for Trident, were all carried out at the US Nevada Test Site. In 1877, the whole area was recognised as belonging to the Western Shoshone nation in the Treaty of Ruby Valley. That Treaty was never formally abrogated, but the land was taken over in the 1940s for use as a military base and then the major US nuclear test site. The Western Shoshone elders have consistently refused to accept US jurisdiction over their tribal homelands and have been at the forefront of protests against nuclear testing in Nevada. They have provided anecdotal evidence of contamination from fallout and of increased levels of thyroid cancer, leukaemia and other cancers among people living in towns under the ‘fallout zone’, which includes Southern Utah, as testing was not generally carried out if the wind was blowing towards Las Vegas, some 70 miles from the test site. Although underground nuclear tests are supposed to be ‘contained’ and therefore not as hazardous as atmospheric or under water testing, local newspapers have carried information on leaks of radioactivity into water tables and of the venting of radioactive gases. Venting occurs when the rock and soil which were vapourised by the incredible heat of the underground nuclear explosion begin to cool. Pressure pushes some of the gases through cracks and fissures until they break from the underground site in an uncontrolled release. For example, in both 1990 and 1991, radioactivity detected some miles from the Nevada test site was traced back to British tests conducted some weeks earlier. Such reports have not been denied, and in fact during the first Clinton Administration, the Department of Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary brought in a more open policy, which led to confirmation of many of the rumours of contamination, leaking and venting. This indicates that underground nuclear testing is not sufficiently contained to be safe.

At the site of French testing in the Pacific, Jacques Cousteau, filming with the permission of the French government, showed large jagged fissures leading from the sites of underground test shafts that were sunk in the Pacific lagoon. Greenpeace later took samples which revealed elevated levels of plutonium and radioactive caesium-134 and caesium-137, also confirming loss of containment from the underground tests.

Nuclear Testing: exploitation and contamination
From 1945 to 1996, 2046 nuclear tests were conducted by six countries (India conducted one test in 1974, which it claimed was for peaceful purposes, a claim that analysts have rejected). The vast majority were exploded by the United States and the Soviet Union. Because Trident and some of Britain’s earlier nuclear weapons have been developed in conditions of close collaboration with the United States, it is reasonable to assume that the British nuclear programme gained considerably from US tests as well as the tests carried out by this country.

Two facts are shocking.

i) Without exception, all five nuclear weapon states conducted their nuclear explosions on land belonging to indigenous people or minorities: the United States and Britain on Western Shoshone land known as Newe Segobia and in the Pacific, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands; the Soviet Union in Kazakhstan and the Arctic island Novaya Zemlya; China in Xinjiang, against the wishes of the indigenous Uighur people, and France first in Algeria and then in Polynesia in the Pacific.

ii) health studies have been lacking or inadequate, leading to inconclusive evidence that the testing powers have dismissed.

The most compelling evidence comes from oral and eyewitness accounts. Several books, including Daughters of the Pacific and Pacific Women Speak Out have documented harrowing stories of whole islands decimated by cancers, especially leukaemia, thyroid and myeloma, of the appalling tragedy of genetic damage leading to still births, horrific birth defects and a range of radiation induced disabilities among the second and third generations. I have myself met some of the indigenous people from the Pacific and Kazakhstan test sites and have heard first hand their tragic stories of pain, suffering and the brutal indifference of those who conducted the tests and even monitored the health of local people – not to help, but to collect data for military purposes on the medium and long-term effects of nuclear bombs on human populations.

While I was Greenpeace International Coordinator on Nuclear Testing, I oversaw the publication of a book of Testimonies from witnesses of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. The witnesses included local people, ‘downwinders’ living in the fallout zone, and Polynesian workers at the test site and their families. Many of the descriptions are similar to those of the victims of US and British testing in the Pacific and Russian testing in Kazakhstan. They tell of playing in contaminated areas in ignorance of the dangers, of being left uninformed or given false information, of being warned not to eat or drink local produce but without any explanation or, in some cases, alternative food or water being provided. The testimonies describe falling ill with rashes, chemical/radiation burns causing their skin to flake and peel, stomach pains, sickness, lassitude, hair falling out, ciguetera (a very unpleasant sickness, which in babies, the elderly or the frail can lead to death) from fish contaminated by dead coral – a consequence of explosions and military construction. And many tell of the fear women have giving birth. How they do not celebrate now until a child is born healthy. About how few babies are born healthy, but many are born like ‘jelly-fish’ without faces or limbs, with no hope of survival and yet born alive to breathe in pain for a few hours or days.

Radiation is strongly associated as a cause of genetic damage and birth defects as well as cancer. For some indigenous and island populations, the legacy of nuclear testing has irrevocably damaged their gene pool and decimated their culture. Such harm, reaching to future generations amounts to genocide.

Personal Biography and Expertise

I am presently the Executive Director of The Acronym Institute, London, and Managing Editor of Disarmament Diplomacy.

I have degrees from the University of Bristol and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University, and have worked on security and nuclear issues since the early 1980s. From 1988-1992 I was Greenpeace International Coordinator on the Nuclear Test Ban, which included focus on nuclear weapons and plutonium. During that time I authored or contributed to numerous Greenpeace reports and pamphlets on nuclear testing, weapons production and nuclear accidents. As Greenpeace International Coordinator, I was responsible for a team of campaigners in many countries. I directed strategies and actions on nuclear testing, weapons production and plutonium, commissioned research, liaised with scientists and oversaw all research programmes and publications. I list the main relevant publications below.

During 1993 I spent several months in parts of the Former Yugoslavia, conducting research and working with local groups on conflict resolution and civil resistance.

From January 1994 I worked for two years at the United Nations in Geneva, where I reported on the Conference on Disarmament and negotiations on a comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT). As Executive Director of The Acronym Institute since 1996 I manage a small staff of researchers and write regular updates on the Conference on Disarmament, the CTBT and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review process in Disarmament Diplomacy, the Institute’s monthly journal, of which I am Managing Editor.

Recent publications include:

British Perspectives on the Future of Nuclear Weapons, published by The Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington DC, January 1998;

‘Nuclear Arms Control through Multilateral Negotiations’ in Nancy Gallagher (ed), Arms Control: New Approaches to Theory and Policy, Frank Cass Publishers, London, 1998;

‘Ending Nuclear Weapon Testing: Getting and Keeping the CTBT’ in R Guthrie (ed), Verification 1997, Westview Press, Oxford, 1997;

‘The CTBT Endgame’ in JB Poole and R Guthrie (eds), Verification 1996, Westview Press, Oxford, 1996;

‘Verifying a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’ in JB Poole and R Guthrie (eds), Verification 1995, Westview Press, Oxford, 1995;

I was also author of the ACRONYM report series on the NPT and CTBT and of briefings which Reuters described in 1995 as “the bible” of the NPT Conference. These included:

Indefinite Extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: Risks and Reckonings, Acronym Report No 7, London, September 1995 and

A Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signed but not Sealed, Acronym Report No 10, May 1997.

Disarmament Diplomacy

I am Managing Editor of the monthly journal Disarmament Diplomacy, which provides in depth reporting, analysis and discussion of international negotiations on arms control and security issues relating principally to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The journal’s subscribers include most diplomatic missions to the United Nations in Geneva and New York and senior defence and foreign ministry officials in over 50 countries. Please see attached summary of the subjects covered over the past year.

Recent Articles on Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

(other than in Disarmament Diplomacy)
I authored the following articles on arms control, non-proliferation and multilateral treaties, published over the last 12 months.

Divisions and Doubts at the Third NPT PrepCom, Rebecca Johnson, Arms Control Today, Washington DC, vol 29, no. 3, April/May 1999.

Accelerating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Ambassador George Bunn, with Rebecca Johnson and Daryl Kimball, May 1999.

Troubled Treaties: is the NPT tottering? Rebecca Johnson, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol 55, No. 2, March/April 1999.

Post-Cold War Security: the lost opportunities, Rebecca Johnson, Disarmament Forum, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Geneva, Number 1, 1999.

The Non-Proliferation Regime in Disarray, Rebecca Johnson, INESAP, Darmstadt, Issue 16, November 1998.

Nuclear disarmament or nuclear proliferation? Rebecca Johnson, Lakare mot karnvapen, Nr 74, October 1998. (NB: Lakare mot karnvapen is the journal of the Swedish section of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.)

Publications on Environmental Effects of Nuclear testing, production and accidents

‘The United Kingdom’, David Sumner, Rebecca Johnson, William Peden, in Makhijani, Hu and Yih (eds), Nuclear Wastelands: A global guide to nuclear weapons production and its health and environmental effects, the MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA, 1995.
I also contributed to the following publications while working at Greenpeace, many of which do not bear author or contributors’ names (or only in the ‘acknowledgements’).

The Greenpeace book of the Nuclear Age, edited by John May, which summarised significant recorded accidents and problems. Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1989
Aldermaston: Inside the Citadel – An investigation into Britain’s nuclear bomb factory, Greenpeace UK, 1992
Testimonies: witnesses of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, Greenpeace International, 1990
Plutonium: deadly gold of the nuclear age, published by a special commission of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
International Meetings Attended This Year

During the past 12 months I attended the following meetings as Chair, Principal Speaker or panel participant. I have not included meetings at which I was merely an audience participant.

September 1998 ISIS Europe, EU Brussels: on European security.
October 1998, ISODARCO and Fudan University, Shanghai: paper on five power talks (and chaired a plenary and workshop on multilateral negotiations).
November 1998, United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues, Nagasaki, paper on five power talks and rapporteur on regional proliferation (South Asia).
December 1998, JCIE-Carnegie, Honolulu: on transnational civil society and nuclear arms control.
January 1999, Carnegie Endowment, Washington DC: Fissile Materials Ban. We also organised a half day additional meeting of participants from China, France and Britain on the medium nuclear weapons powers and issues for five power talks and co-hosted a fringe meeting on CTBT entry into force with Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers.
February 1999 Middle Powers Initiative and Fourth Freedom Forum, New York: on increasing the effectiveness of NGO contributions to practical mechanisms for nuclear disarmament, including the New Agenda Coalition.
March 1999, JCIE and Carnegie, Paris: follow up meeting on transnational civil society and nuclear arms control.
April 1999, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, USA: on the NPT review process.
April 1999, during NPT PrepCom, New York: at launch of IALANA/INESAP/IPPNW book on a draft Nuclear Weapons Convention.
June 1999, Monterey Institute and PPNN, Divonne, France: on the third NPT PrepCom and review process.
June 1999, IPPNW St Petersburg, Russia: on the effect of the Balkan war on arms control and the necessity to convene five power talks.
July 1999, Monterey Institute, California: strategy group on strengthening the non-proliferation regimes.
July 1999, Carnegie Endowment, Washington DC: principal speaker at roundtable on problems with the NPT and CD, briefed US government officials and analysts.
July 1999, Oxford Research Group, UK: on nuclear disarmament (five power talks)
As a result of my research, publications and professional position, I am well qualified to give expert testimony on nuclear negotiations and non-proliferation and the implications of Trident and British policy, including international attitudes and treaty compliance. I am internationally recognised as one of the foremost specialists in the field of multilateral negotiations and nuclear arms control.