The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Britain continues to make a mockery of non-proliferation

Ministers and the nuclear regulators are failing to call out flawed legisation, says DAVID LOWRY

IN EVIDENCE I submitted last November to the House of Commons committee examining the Nuclear Safeguards Bill, I concluded as follows:

“The UK nuclear regulator is going to be given unprecedented responsibility for policing a diplomatically contentious new arrangement, which will increase suspicion among member states of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — (for which Britain, as a co-drafter of the treaty text, is one of three depositary states) — which ministers pray-in-aid whenever they discuss the rationale for a UK nuclear safeguards system. However, ministers routinely cherry-pick those parts of the NPT that suit their purposes.

“But the NPT is an integrated diplomatic agreement, with its articles all relevant and related. Cherry-picking is both diplomatically unwise, as it normalises abrogation for other signatory nations, and undermines the very treaty for which the UK is supposed to act as a protective depositary state.

“The UK is already in very bad diplomatic odour with many NPT member states for its 50-year abject failure to abide by its article 6 requirement to ‘pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament’.

“The proposed arrangements for a new self-policed ‘safeguards’ regime for Britain will undoubtedly add to the bad image of the country in the wider international community as a state that abrogates its international treaty commitments.

“This diplomatic dimension has been totally overlooked by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and utterly ignored by ministerial evidence to this committee; the consequences further down the road will be predictably dire.

“There is time to avoid this outcome; but ministers must be prevailed upon to change their currently untenable negotiating stance.

“ONR has a key, proactive and robust role to play in doing so. I hope for the future credibility of British diplomatic reputation — which has suffered serious damage in recent weeks due to the multiple failures of the Foreign Secretary — ONR steps up to the plate and intervenes.”

On January 23 the House of Commons returned to examine the remaining stages of the draft Bill in Parliament.

It still contained the unacceptable British opt out to proliferate from the civil programme if ministers decide to do so. They have already done this over 600 times under the current legislation.

Our MPs, more concerned with cheerleading for European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) than doing their real job, have been truly awful at scrutinising this draft legislation.

Labour’s front bench energy spokesperson, Dr Alan Whitehead disarmingly told MPs in the Commons: “I think that it is agreed that Euratom has served well our purposes as a nuclear nation over the past 40 years, and nuclear safeguarding has worked very well in inspecting and representing our obligations to international agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”

Sadly, this assertion is wrong in almost every particular.

For the record, both Labour and Tory ministers have authorised the withdrawal from safeguards for nuclear materials for military uses over 600 times since the Trilateral treaty between Britain, Euratom and IAEA entered into force in 1978, by activating the withdrawal clause 14; thus making it a complete mockery to say the British civil nuclear industry — and its stockpile of nuclear materials — is in any realistic way under nuclear safeguards obligations.

Indeed, ONR itself now publishes annual data on such withdrawals on its website. Labour’s shadow team should be aware of these important facts.

Unfortunately our independent national nuclear regulator, the ONR, is passively continuing to collude in this disgrace by declining to speak out against this flawed legislation, which is an invite to other nations to copy Britain and proliferate with impunity.

January 29, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: