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U.S. Pentagon hypes up the ”China threat”, in its deceptive propaganda to get more $billions from Congress

we can expect to be bombarded with Pentagon and industry propaganda on China’s growing air and naval capabilities—requiring, it will be stated, hundreds of billions of dollars in added spending.

   Costs for the new intercontinental missile are currently estimated at $100 billion ($10 billion more than a few years ago) and are sure to rise in the years ahead if full-scale production is approved by Congress.

The Pentagon Inflates the Chinese Nuclear Threat in a Push for New Intercontinental Missiles. Every US military service is seeking more money than before, and each one is touting the importance of their weapons in overcoming the Chinese military threat. The Nation, By Michael T. Klare  , 19 May 21,  

This year, as in every year, the Department of Defense will seek to extract budget increases from Congress by highlighting the severe threats to US security posed by its foreign adversaries. Usually, this entails a litany of such perils, ranging from a host of nation-state adversaries to nonstate actors like ISIS and Al Qaeda. This year, however, the Pentagon is focusing almost entirely on just one threat in its funding appeals: The People’s Republic of China. Sensing that a majority in Congress—Democrats as well as Republicans—are keen to display their determination to blunt China’s rise, senior officials are largely framing the military budget around preparation for a possible conflict with that country. “The Department will prioritize China as our number one pacing challenge and develop the right operational concepts, capabilities, and plans to bolster deterrence and maintain our competitive advantage,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared on March 4.

From the Pentagon’s perspective, this means portraying every budgetary item—from Army tanks and Navy ships to Air Force jets and ballistic missiles—in terms of their utility in fighting the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Every US military service is seeking more money than before (as they always do), and each one is touting the importance of their weapons in overcoming the Chinese military threat. But this year, after a series of rising budgets during the Trump administration, defense appropriations are expected to remain flat (at a nonetheless colossal $715 billion), meaning that any increase in spending on any given weapons system—be it a major warship, aircraft, or missile—is likely to come at the expense of increases in others. The result, not surprisingly, is a contest among the services to magnify the vital importance of their pet projects in overpowering the PLA.

This means that we can expect to be bombarded with Pentagon and industry propaganda on China’s growing air and naval capabilities—requiring, it will be stated, hundreds of billions of dollars in added spending on new fighter jets, submarines, and surface ships. Although China’s military capabilities still lag far behind those of US forces in terms of their technical proficiency—China’s two aircraft carriers, for example, can launch only a dozen or so combat jets, compared to the 75-plus deployed on America’s 11 carriers—but the PLA has nonetheless acquired many new ships and planes, so promoters of US weaponry have some real data to cite when making their claims of growing Chinese military prowess.

“The PRC maintains the world’s largest naval force, which has tripled in size over the past two decades,” said Adm. Philip S. Richardson on March 21 (while not revealing that most of those ships are coastal frigates with little utility in a conflict with the US Navy). For the advocates of a buildup in US nuclear forces, however, it is hard to justify such claims, and so they have been forced to make wildly exaggerated claims about China’s nuclear capabilities.

This is an especially critical year for America’s nuclear weapons boosters, as plans for modernization of the US strategic “triad”—land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and their submarine platforms, and long-range bombers—are all scheduled to move from the research and development phase to full-scale production. Funds have already been appropriated for a new bomber, the B-21 Raider, and for a new SLBM-carrying submarine, the Columbia class, and now the Pentagon wants to begin work on a new ICBM, which it calls, in its typically obfuscating way, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD.   Costs for the new intercontinental missile are currently estimated at $100 billion ($10 billion more than a few years ago) and are sure to rise in the years ahead if full-scale production is approved by Congress.

While nuclear modernization enjoys strong support in Congress, questions have been raised about the need for the GBSD, especially given the competition for funds from other favored programs,   such as the F-35 fighter and the Los Angeles–class attack submarine, and the fact that an alternative exists in terms of refurbishing the Pentagon’s existing fleet of 400 Minuteman-III ICBMs. Some in Congress have also suggested that land-based missiles would be highly vulnerable in the event of an enemy preemptive strike and that the nation enjoys more-than-adequate deterrence to such attack with its undetectable fleet of missile-carrying submarines. For example, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Representative Ro Khanna of California have introduced the Investing in Cures Before Missiles (ICBM) Act, which would divert funds from GBSD procurement to development of a universal coronavirus vaccine, while also extending the life of Minuteman missiles. “With all of the global challenges we face,” Khanna declared, “the last thing we should be doing is giving billions to defense contractors to build missiles we don’t need to keep as a strong nuclear deterrence.”

In response to these challenges, the nuclear lobby has gone all-out in touting the threat posed by China’s nuclear capabilities, even though these hardly come close to those possessed by the United States or its principal nuclear adversary, the Russian Federation. According to the latest (and most authoritative) data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China possesses 320 nuclear warheads in total—none of which is believed to be deployed at present on its ICBMs, SLBMs, or bombers. By comparison, Russia has 6,375 warheads in its stockpile, of which 1,575 are currently deployed on weapons systems, and the United States has 5,800 warheads, with 1,750 deployed. China is said to be increasing the size of its nuclear stockpile, in part because it is replacing some older, single-warhead ICBMs with newer, multiple-warhead versions, but its progress in this direction has been slow and no analyst, inside or outside of government, predicts an increase that will bring the Chinese arsenal anywhere close to those possessed by Russia and the United States………..

Congress members should avoid being swayed by unfounded claims about China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. Of course, any Chinese nuclear weapons—like any nuclear weapons anywhere—pose a threat to US and global security, but we need not embark on a new nuclear arms race simply to overcome an over-hyped increase in Chinese capabilities


May 20, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson’s plan for more nuclear weapons in Scotland ‘breaks international law’

Boris Johnson’s plan for more nuclear weapons in Scotland ‘breaks international law’,The National, By Gregor Young  19 May, 21  BORIS Johnson’s plan to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads would breach international law, experts have warned.

The Tory government announced in March that it wants to raise the legal limit on the number of the weapons of mass destruction, which would be available to its submarine fleet at Faslane. Currently, the cap is set at 180, but the new defence review revised that up to 260.

Downing Street will also send more troops abroad “more often and for longer” as part of the £24 billion hike in defence spending.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary previously described the proposals as “utterly unacceptable”, while Washington think tank, the Arms Control Association (ACA), said they were inconsistent with the UK Government’s prior pledges under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

That conclusion has now been backed by two academics at the London School of Economics who were commissioned to examine Johnson’s pledge by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Record has reported.

Led by Professor Christine Chinkin, a long-time consultant for the UN, and Dr Louise Arimatsu, a former fellow at the NATO Cyber Defense Centre, the legal report finds the increase constitutes a breach of article six of the NPT treaty.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson told the Record: “The increase in the UK’s nuclear arsenal has been exposed to intense criticism nationally and internationally, including from the United Nations. Thanks to the work of highly respected academic experts, we now know it is illegal under international law.

“Everything points to the decision costing tens of billions of pounds. During this pandemic, there are other urgent uses for public money.

“The decision breaks with the gradual nuclear reductions implemented by successive governments going back nearly 30 years and is at odds with the decision by Presidents Biden and Putin to continue bilateral nuclear reductions.”……………

May 20, 2021 Posted by | legal, UK, weapons and war | 3 Comments

China building uneconomic closed fuel cycle nuclear breeder reactors – for plutonium for nuclear weapons?

the kind of plutonium breeder reactors being built on Changbiao, they are among the least cost-effective ways to derive energy from nuclear power.

That raises the question of why China is developing these reactors for its energy use if it doesn’t make sense economically. ……. “They may be dual-purpose.

Concerns grow over China nuclear reactors shrouded in mystery

No one outside China knows if two new nuclear reactors that are under construction and that will produce plutonium serve a dual civilian-military use.  By Al Jazeera Staff, 19 May 21,

Like many of the over 5,000 small islands dotting China’s coastline, the islet of Changbiao is unremarkable in its history and geography. Jutting out from the shoreline of Fujian province like a small right-footed footprint, it has only gained recognition recently – and even then among a small handful of experts – for being home to China’s first two CFR-600 sodium-cooled fast-neutron nuclear reactors……..

The two reactors being built on Changbiao are closed fuel cycle nuclear breeder reactors. They produce plutonium. That plutonium could be reprocessed and used as a fuel source for other nuclear reactors. It could also be used to produce nuclear warheads, a lot of nuclear warheads, and produce them very quickly.

But no one outside of the Chinese officials and companies overseeing the projects knows if the intended use is purely for civilian energy, or if it serves a dual purpose for the country’s perceived nuclear deterrent needs.

That question gained even more urgency this week after a United States official accused Beijing of resisting bilateral talks with Washington on nuclear risk reduction.

The reason these breeder reactors are shrouded in mystery is that China, which had been transparent about its civilian plutonium programme until recently, stopped annual voluntary declarations to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] on its stocks of civilian plutonium in 2017 and has not added the reactors to the agency’s database to date.

While there are occasionally reporting delays of up to a year among the nine members party to the IAEA voluntary guidelines for the management of plutonium, Frank von Hippel, a senior nuclear research physicist and co-founder of Princeton University’s Program on Science & Global Security, said China’s lack of transparency is beginning to draw concern among non-proliferation experts and governments around the world.

“This is unique at this point,” von Hippel said of the silence over China’s plutonium activities.

I’m worried’

A recent paper (PDF) co-authored by von Hippel and several other nuclear non-proliferation experts drew attention to this issue. The findings stated that China could “conservatively produce 1,270 nuclear weapons by 2030 simply by exploiting the weapons-grade plutonium this program will produce” or even increase that by a factor of two or more if China used highly enriched uranium or composite uranium-plutonium cores from the reactors in bombs and missiles.

This would feed a huge increase from the number of estimated nuclear warheads in China’s arsenal, currently thought to be around 300 to 350.

“Well, I’m worried,” von Hippel said. “They may be dual-purpose.”

While the IAEA management guidelines have been something of a failure over the years, at least they “did provide transparency”, von Hippel says. Now, everyone but China is in the dark about the plutonium programme and it is starting to draw attention……..

The China Atomic Energy Authority, the agency responsible for reporting to the IAEA, did not respond to Al Jazeera’s questions about why China stopped reporting on its civilian plutonium programme. Similar requests from Al Jazeera made through China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Energy Administration and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology were likewise not acknowledged…….

The country has 50 nuclear reactors operating and 14 other conventional reactors under construction, not counting the two breeder reactors, according to IAEA data. China undershot its previous five-year target by around seven gigawatts, so appears to be making a major push to advance its nuclear power capacity over the next five to ten years.

But both Roth and von Hippel said, based on the experience of other countries that have tried the kind of plutonium breeder reactors being built on Changbiao, they are among the least cost-effective ways to derive energy from nuclear power.

“There’s a strong case, and we’ve seen this in other countries, that reprocessing [spent fuel] is not economical,” Roth said. “The reality is it’s cheaper not to reprocess your fuel than it is to reprocess. A once-through fuel cycle with low enriched uranium is a more economical approach.”

That raises the question of why China is developing these reactors for its energy use if it doesn’t make sense economically.

If the reactors are dual-use, it would, particularly from a China concerned about the adequacy of its nuclear deterrent, says von Hippel.

China’s actions, however, may spur others in the region, namely Japan and Korea, to speed up their own plutonium reactor plans.

“I think it’s in China’s best interest not to go down that path,” Roth said. “From an economic perspective, from an environmental perspective, and the impact it has regionally … they seem set on pursuing this reprocessing path, but I don’t think it is going to help them with their nuclear power goals.”

I think it’s in China’s best interest not to go down that path.

A commercial plutonium ‘timeout’?

The way forward, Roth says, is for the US to engage with China to find out why it stopped the declarations to the IAEA and pursue a path to disincentivise others in the region from pursuing plutonium reprocessing.

“I would hope that the Biden administration is choosing to engage with China on non-proliferation issues,” Roth said.

Requests made by Al Jazeera through the US Embassy in Beijing about whether the administration of US President Joe Biden was engaging with China on its halt in reporting on its civilian plutonium programme were declined.

These questions are becoming acutely important, von Hippel said, at a time of increased tension between the US and China, the potential flashpoint of Taiwan, and a growing chorus suggesting the two superpowers are engaged in a Cold War 2.0.

Whether there is interest in China discussing these matters with the US or countries in the region is unknown.

On Tuesday, the issue was thrown back into the spotlight after Robert Wood, US ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, accused Beijing of being unwilling “to engage meaningfully” with Washington on nuclear weapons talks.

“Despite China’s dramatic build-up of its nuclear arsenal, it continues to resist discussing nuclear risk reduction bilaterally with the United States – a dialogue we have with Russia,” Wood told a UN conference.

Beijing’s representative reportedly pushed back on the claim, telling the same conference that China is “ready to carry out positive dialogue and exchange with all parties”.

The increasing acrimony that characterised US-China relations under the administration of President Donald Trump didn’t exactly instil confidence in engagement on nuclear security policy, von Hippel said.

Gregory Kulacki, a senior analyst on nuclear policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists who is now based in Japan, said that the good level of engagement built up between the US and China on nuclear policy prior to the early 2000s is something of a distant memory now, with the US side bearing much of the blame for the shroud of silence from China.

“The [George W] Bush Jr administration’s decision [in 2002] to withdraw from the ABM [1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile] treaty pretty much gutted any real interest in China in pursuing arms control talks of any substance with the United States,” Kulacki said.

The Bush administration’s moves were made due to its commitments to deploy missile

defence systems in what it saw as protecting against “growing missile threats” at the time, from a potentially nuclear-armed North Korea. China saw those actions as restricting its own military capabilities in its back yard.

According to von Hippel and his co-authors, the US should work with Japan, South Korea and China on declaring a “commercial plutonium timeout” with offers to delay breeder reactors and commercial plutonium programmes if China agrees to do the same.

If all of these countries could increase the amount of transparency related to uranium holdings and related activities, it would boost confidence for all parties to scale back those programmes, he said.

The trick is figuring out who would take the first steps.

May 20, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, business and costs, China, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Terrific line-up for the first ever ONLINE International Uranium Film Festival

International Uranium Film Festival @URANIUMFESTIVAL

This Week’s Featured Interviews: With the International Uranium Film Festival running online May 20-30 – and free – we bring you interviews with two of the filmmakers.… A third interview will run on next week’s show, #518. Register to watch at: Click on the Rio 2021 link. The two films and directors featured on this week’s show are: In My Lifetime: The Nuclear World Project – Director Robert E. Frye …and … ATOMIC COVER-UP – Director Greg Mitchell is the award-winning author of a dozen books…..

May 20, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uranium Film Festival – Online for free from May 20 to May 30, 2021


Online for free from May 20 to May 30, 2021

The 10th International Uranium Film Festival Rio de Janeiro remembers the still unsolved nuclear accident in Fukushima 10 years ago and the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been in force since January of this year. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions It will be the festival’s first online edition with support by the Cinematheque(link is external) of Rio de Janeiro’s prestigious Modern Art Museum (MAM Rio)(link is external).  

The festival has selected 34 documentaries and movies by 26 filmmakers from 15 countries. The films will be screened for free online from May 20 to 30 at the MAM Rio platform.  Two live online events complete the program.  

On May 20 (7 pm Rio time)(link is external) the festival opening features three atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima, who live in Brazil, and Akira Kawasaki, coordinator of the Peace Boat Foundation. And on May 24th (4 pm Rio time)(link is external) the festival’s live online guests will be former Brazilian Ambassador Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte who has dedicated his life as a diplomat to end the nuclear threat and Cristian Ricardo Wittmann, member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The video greetings (link is external)for the opening of the online film festival come from Biologist and parliamentarian Klaus Mindrup(link is external), member of the German Bundestag of the Committee for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and from Manfred Mohr(link is external), Professor of International Public Law, spokesman for the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), founding member of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Weapons (IALANA) and ICAN-member.


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May 20, 2021 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Iran: talks in Austria with UK, France and Germany head towards nuclear agreement

Iran nuclear deal ‘starting to take shape’ Albert Otti AAPThu, 20 May 2021  An agreement to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is beginning to take shape after six weeks of talks, European diplomats say.

“Both on the nuclear side and on the sanctions side, we are now beginning to see the contours of what the final deal could look like,” senior diplomats said after the latest round of talks.

The negotiators from the UK, France and Germany – sometimes referred to as the E3 – have been meeting in working groups in the Austrian capital since early April, aiming to revive the 2015 nuclear deal which was crafted to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The nuclear accord has been hanging by a thread since 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump pulled the US out and Iran began to increasingly violate its terms.

“However, success is not guaranteed. There are still some very difficult issues ahead. We do not underestimate the challenges that lay before us,” the diplomats said.

Negotiations are under way on which sanctions the US would be prepared to lift and what steps Iran would be willing to take in return to curb its nuclear program.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said the structure of the agreement had been achieved.

“The content is almost clear although not yet finalised,” he said………

May 20, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Flaws found in anti-terror measures at Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant

Flaws found in anti-terror measures at Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, Japan Times, 19 May 21,

Anti-terrorism measures implemented at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, which is set to be decommissioned, have been found to be flawed, it was learned Wednesday.

It was discovered that doors leading to the nuclear materials protection areas at the plant, which are under heavy entry-exit surveillance as part of anti-terrorism measures, were not properly managed.

Some security checks conducted when people leave or enter such areas were also neglected.

The flaws were reported to a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority on the same day.

According to the NRA, the flaws have been fixed and there are no signs of intrusion.

The NRA said that a worker at the nuclear plant found a door with inadequate access control measures to the area at the plant’s No. 4 reactor on March 19.

On the following day, a door with a similar flaw was found at the plant’s No. 1 reactor. Plant operator Tepco reported the flaws to the NRA.

The company also found that necessary checks, such as those involving metal detectors, were skipped at some doors to the nuclear materials protection areas.

While the doors in question at the No. 1 and No. 4 reactors were not used on a day-to-day basis and were locked, Tepco said that it was unaware that the doors were on the boundaries……..

May 20, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

How many nuclear weapons does Britain have? Non-Proliferation explained 

How many nuclear weapons does Britain have? Non-Proliferation explained

BORIS JOHNSON has been accused of infringing international laws with his plans for British nuclear proliferation. How many nuclear weapons does Britain have?, By LIAM DOYLE May 18, 2021

 The current crop of roughly 195 warheads sits in an ocean-based fleet of Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines.

They operate on a continuous patrol to preserve the UK’s deterrence policy from the sea.

Britain has previously committed to non-proliferation and intended to limit its stockpile.

Mr Johnson’s predecessors outlined these intentions in the 1968 Treaty on Non-Proliferation and the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The latter policy, brought forward by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, aimed to reduce national stockpiles by 65 percent during the 2020s.

The Government’s 2021 Integrated Review found it could no longer commit to this policy.

The Prime Minister intends to push the UK’s stockpile up by 40 percent to “no more than 260 warheads”.

The review cites the current “security environment” as its primary reason for proliferation.

And this is where the earlier 1968 treaty comes into play.

Nuclear and non-nuclear powers alike signed the Treaty on Non-Proliferation as a collaborative pledge to limit nuclear technologies.

The treaty attracted the UK, US, the then Soviet Union and a further 59 other signatories.

The ratified document prevents non-nuclear states from acquiring weapons, commits nuclear states to push for disarmament, and allowed all participants to access technology for peaceful purposes.

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project, said the Government’s latest pursuit would break parameters set by the treaty.

He cited Article 6, which commits signatories to step-by-step disarmament, specifically.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), added the “dangerous” decision “violates international law”.

She added: “While the majority of the world’s nations are leading the way to a safer future without nuclear weapons by joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the United Kingdom is pushing for a dangerous new nuclear arms race.”

May 20, 2021 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Suffolk County Council not happy with present plans for Sizewell nuclear power project

BBC 18th May 2021, Mitigating proposals for the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant were
“a disappointment”, a government Planning Inspectorate hearing was told.
Suffolk County Council told the four-day public hearing that it could not
support the project as it stood.

The council said it needed reassurances on
sea and rail transport options, and on how jobs and training could benefit
local people. The developer, EDF, has not responded yet to the comments
made so far.

Some 15 voices spoke at the Tuesday morning session, almost
all critical of either the power plant itself or EDF’s mitigation impact
proposals. Speaking for Suffolk County Council, Richard Rout said that
while it supported the project in principle, “the development as it stands
was currently a disappointment for many who may wish to support it”.

May 20, 2021 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, politics | Leave a comment

New study on children, wives and widows of UK nuclear test veterans

Kent Online 18th May 2021, The children, wives and widows of nuclear test veterans in Kent are being
urged to sign up for a ground-breaking study. During the 1950s and 1960s,
around 22,000 British Servicemen – many of them called up for National
Service – witnessed nuclear tests on mainland Australia, the Montebello
Islands off Western Australia and Christmas Island in the South Pacific.

May 20, 2021 Posted by | children, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Yet more delays in USA’s costly, troubled Vogtle nuclear project

Westport News 18th May 2021, Georgia Power Co. said Tuesday that delays in completing testing means the
first new unit at its Vogtle plant is now unlikely to start generating
electricity before January at the earliest. The unit of Atlanta-based
Southern Co. had in recent years been aiming to complete the first unit in
November, but officials told investors last month that it would probably be
finished in December. Company officials said Tuesday that testing began in
late April, would take three weeks longer than expected and is unlikely to
be completed before late June, adding more time to construction and

May 20, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

French mining company Orano stops all uranium exploration in Greenland,

High North News 18th May 2021, The French mining company Orano halts all its exploration for uranium in
Greenland, according to KNR. The company will retain its licenses, which
are valid for five years. It has only been months since the previous
self-rule government in Greenland granted Orano licenses to conduct
exploration several places in southern and southwestern Greenland, as well
as test drilling in two areas.

The company says it will respect the policy
of the newly appointed coalition government.

May 20, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plans to raise cap on Trident nuclear warhead stockpile may breach United Nations treaty.

Scotsman 18th May 2021, Plans to raise cap on Trident nuclear warhead stockpile may breach United
Nations treaty. Plans to raise the on cap on Britain’s Trident nuclear
warhead stockpile may fall foul of international law, experts have warned.
The UK Government intends to increase the number of warheads available to
its nuclear fleet at Faslane from 180 to a maximum of 260 as part of its
integrated review of defence and foreign policy. Academics at the London
School of Economics (LSE) have warned the increase in warheads would be
inconsistent with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,
to which the UK is a nuclear weapon state party.

May 20, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment