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The anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing should encourage the government to sign the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty

Shadow minister for peace and disarmament FABIAN HAMILTON explains how a Labour government would put Britain back onto the world stage as a leader in ethical foreign policy

AS we remember the victims of the Hiroshima atomic bomb on August 6 1945, the 73rd anniversary, it is absolutely vital for our collective survival to re-examine the human cost of developing, possessing and using nuclear weapons.  

In total, alongside the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9 1945, more than 200,000 people lost their lives over the course of three days from the impact of just two atomic bombs. 

Thousands more would die in the months and years after August 1945 from the injuries sustained as a result, as well as from the appalling genetic damage that the bombs inflicted.  

The power of today’s nuclear weapons is now thought to have at least 3,000 times the destructive power of those bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. 

With so much at stake in an uncertain and polarised world, this is Britain’s chance to become a global leader in nuclear disarmament. 

Last year, 122 countries voted in favour of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which would officially outlaw nuclear weapons permanently and which is absolutely unprecedented in the continued search for worldwide nuclear disarmament. 

The Conservative government in Britain, alongside the other nuclear weapons states, will not entertain even the idea of this treaty, as they allow their defence policies to be dictated by the historical notion of mutually assured destruction and the mistaken belief that the world is somehow safer with nuclear weapons in it.  

A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would work hard towards signing the treaty and realistically look to pursue the full eradication of nuclear weapons across the world. 

The fact that my role as shadow minister for peace and disarmament does not have an opposite number on the government benches shows that the Tories do not take the need for peace and stability seriously. 

When Labour enters government, we will establish a minister for peace and disarmament, which would really put Britain back onto the world stage as an international leader in humanitarian relief, and ensure the development of a truly ethical foreign policy. 

Far from being the preserver of world peace, the arms trade is one of the largest obstacles to the establishment of long-lasting and widespread peace in the world today. 

Too many armed forces are now being sold weapons by Britain which are then deployed against civilian populations in their own countries. Britain should never be complicit in any violation of international law. 

Labour is therefore committed to a full and comprehensive review of who we sell arms to and to what ends those countries use them. 

This review could mean the immediate suspension of all arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, for instance, which continues to lead a coalition in Yemen that has repeatedly attacked the civilian population there. 

According to Unicef, the child death toll of this shocking conflict stood at 2,210 at the beginning of July and is expected to rise further owing to the continued bombing campaign. 

This is absolutely inexcusable and the fact that British weapons may have been used  is sickening. In the true interests of international law and peace, the government must now stand up to the Saudis and suspend all arms export licences until a comprehensive ceasefire can be agreed. 

Under a Labour government, Britain would lead by example, incorporating human security and the responsibility to protect into its official foreign policy.  

A new Labour manifesto will lay out the party's plan for British foreign policy and show how it will once again focus on trying to prevent the human casualties of war and displacement and also help to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity when they occur. 

Britain has the best trained armed forces in the world and it’s time the government made sure they had the best equipment too and gave our service men and women a real pay rise. 

But the Tories are not really serious about defending this country and instead prefer to pour money into nuclear weapons development, while leaving our conventional forces strapped for cash. 

Our armed forces are often unable to conduct humanitarian operations on a large scale because of this lack of funding and it is a costly shame that Britain cannot use its world renowned military prowess to save lives and help rebuild communities shattered by conflict in so many parts of the globe.

Possessing the destructive force of nuclear weapons does not give Britain an upper hand in the future use of its armed forces abroad. 

However, with a foreign policy based on international law, our armed forces would be dealing with new threats to avoid or prevent conflict abroad, such as climate change, pandemic diseases, mass migration and displacement, and economic shocks. 

By working alongside the United Nations, Britain can show that being a true world power is no longer about policing the world for selfish gain. 

By supporting our armed forces personnel with proper investment, coupled with a War Powers Act, Britain will be in a far better position to promote peace globally, while remaining on the right side of history. 

 

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