Related Correspondence to Robin Cook

From Commander Robert D Green, Chair, World Court Project UK, 20th February 2001

To:- The Rt Hon Robin Cook MP

Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH

United Kingdom

20 February 2001

Dear Mr Cook,

We wish to alert you to the following outrageous statement made on behalf of the British Government on 15 November 2000 during a nine-day hearing in the High Court in Edinburgh, Scotland. It illustrated an alleged possible legal use of the UK nuclear arsenal currently deployed in a Trident ballistic missile-armed submarine:


“If I can give an example My Lords, if the nuclear power aggressor was threatening the territorial integrity of a non-nuclear victim state, let’s take it, the example of China being a nuclear power threatening New Zealand, a non-nuclear power, with a battle fleet armed with nuclear missiles which it was stating it was about to fire at New Zealand and which battle fleet was in the Pacific, approaching the point at which the state of New Zealand was in range of its nuclear missiles, in such a situation I submit that it would be consistent with international law, including humanitarian laws applicable to armed conflict, for another nuclear power to use nuclear force against that battle fleet…”


Lord Prosser was the senior of three judges hearing it, and the AdvocateDepute for the Crown was Duncan Menzies QC.

While we presume that the Crown’s QC was unaware of the sensitivities of citing such an example, we feel strongly that you should inform both Duncan Menzies QC and Lord Prosser that such an example is unacceptable in light of New Zealand’s rejection of extended nuclear deterrence, enshrined in its 1987 Nuclear Free Act; the New Zealand Government’s submission to the World Court in 1995 arguing that any threat or use of nuclear weapons is unlawful; and the current New Zealand Government’s advocacy of a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

We are copying this letter to the Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Yours sincerely,

Kate Dewes, Robert Green

Commander Robert D Green, Royal Navy (Retired)

Chair, World Court Project UK

Disarmament & Security Centre, PO Box 8390, Christchurch, Aotearoa/New Zealand


[The DSC is a specialist branch of the NZ Peace Foundation]