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CND in Scotland — ‘needed now more than ever’

ARTHUR WEST, chair of Scottish CND, looks back at a year of campaigning ahead of the organisation’s AGM

IN Scotland we are very conscious that 25 miles down the road from our biggest city the Faslane naval base houses the Trident Nuclear Weapons system.

Trident is a fearsome weapon of mass destruction. Each Trident warhead is at least six times more powerful than the bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of the second world war.

If the Britain were ever to use such a weapon, even against military targets, it would cause millions of deaths and injuries.

However the radioactive fallout from a weapon as powerful as Trident would also cause deaths and injuries around the world — even in countries not directly involved in the conflict. A number of scientists are also of the view that Climate Change affecting global food supplies could not be ruled out in the event of a nuclear weapons exchange anywhere in the world.

The destructive power of the current Trident system means that it presents a major threat to world peace. It is even more worrying that the UK government is pressing ahead with plans to replace the current system with an even more lethal set of weapons of mass destruction.

As well as focusing on campaigning against Trident Scottish CND has been working in a number of other ways during 2019.

Throughout the year a mobile exhibition charting the history of Scottish CND and the wider peace movement has been touring venues across Scotland.

We continue to work with the Don’t Bank on the Bomb Network who campaign to raise awareness about the way some banks and financial institutions finance the production and development of nuclear weapons.

A report produced in late 2018 by by the network highlighted the point that two Scottish financial institutions, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Standard Life Aberdeen, have between them made available over £2.8 billion to companies involved in nuclear weapons production between 2014 -2017.

In providing details of the current work of Scottish CND it is appropriate to highlight our involvement with ICAN — the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons .

Within the structures of ICAN Scottish CND work with partner organisations to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was passed at a special session of the United Nations in July 2017 .

This treaty which asks countries to commit themselves to not becoming involved in the testing, production, manufacturing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons is very welcome indeed .

The treaty also asks countries such as Britain to take steps to get rid of their nuclear weapons as a step towards a peaceful and more secure world.

At the present time 26 countries have fully ratified the treaty and a number of others have signed the treaty and are progressing towards full ratification.

Unfortunately the British government has refused to engage with the treaty and are doing their best to ignore it.

It goes without saying that the world is a very dangerous place at the moment. The Trump administration seems intent in moving away from treaties aimed at the reduction of nuclear weapons. The British government also seems totally committed to pressing ahead with Trident renewal with its enormous costs which could be better spent in more socially useful ways.

In terms of the Trump administration it is worth remembering that in a so-called nuclear posture review published in 2018 proposals were put forward to spend an additional $500 billion on nuclear weapons.

Alarmingly within these proposals there was £17bn earmarked for low-yield tactical nuclear weapons that some of the unbalanced elements around Trump seem to think could be used on conventional battlefields.

I am therefore pleased to say that Scottish CND has recently become a formal partner in the No to War/No to Nato Coalition — an organisation linking peace campaigners in the struggle to abolish nuclear weapons and bring about a more peaceful world.

One of the actions to come out of our involvement in this coalition is that plans are afoot to organise Scottish based protests and activities against the hosting of a Nato summit in London on December 3.

Another very useful tool we have to help us in our work is the charity Peace Education Scotland, set up two years ago to help us focus on educational work, allowing us to be in contact with a range of young people in schools and colleges across the country.

It has been a particular challenge since 2016 to prevent peace issues being totally lost within the constant public and political discourse around Brexit.

Despite this current difficult political context Scottish CND and our partners in the wider peace movement are well aware that it is our responsibility to continue struggling for a more peaceful world free of the scourge of nuclear weapons.

To this end we will hold our AGM on Saturday November 16 at the Quaker Meeting House at 7 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2 JL.

We are likely to have a couple of climate change activists speaking followed by a discussion on how climate change and peace activists can come together.

The AGM is also an opportunity for Scottish CND members and affiliated organisations to put forward resolutions on issues of concern to Scottish CND and the wider peace movement .

As we run up to our AGM and the important issues we will discuss and take action on, it is always worth remembering the words of CND UK general secretary Kate Hudson: “CND — needed now more than ever.”

The Scottish CND AGM will begin at 10.30am on Saturday November 16 at the Quaker Meeting House at 7 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2JL.

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