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Jeremy Corbyn: pandemic should make leaders realise arms spending does not protect us

Labour's ex-leader speaks out at CNS webinar

THE coronavirus crisis should serve as a wake-up call to other impending disasters awaiting humanity, including nuclear war and climate change, peace activists said today.

Speaking at a CND webinar, politicians including Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and activists discussed whether Britain will honour its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons  (NPT).

The objective of the international treaty is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.

CND executive director Rebecca Johnson said that the treaty, which has 80 signatories, is on track to take legal effect in Britain in 2021.

She said that there are still big steps that Britain must take to honour the treaty but argued that the pandemic could make people more aware about other crises facing humanity.

“Covid-19 is proving a personal tragedy to so many, but it also has to be seen as a wake-up call,” she said.

“Looking forward, we’ve got to recognise that the only security approach that matters is the humanitarian environmental co-operative approach that CND, Extinction Rebellion and the young people striking for climate justice have been so active in demanding.

“Nuclear weapons are in the way. We have to seize the opportunity now to get rid of them.”

A review of the treaty, which takes place every five years, had been due to take place at the UN headquarters in New York from April 27 until May 22 but has been postponed to next year due to the pandemic.

Mr Corbyn said that reflections made during the coronavirus crisis should be stressed at the conference next year.

“I would say that the annual budget spent by the government over the lockdown is already in excess of the annual defence budget for this year,” he said.

The former Labour leader suggested that this might make world leaders “come to the realisation” that incredibly expensive rearmament programmes are not in the interests of their people.

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