03 August 2005

Methodist Church calls for open debate on Trident replacement

Methodist Church calls for open debate on Trident replacement

  • £10 billion decision needs to be taken during current parliament
  • Church urges members to lobby MPs for full debate

The Methodist Church has called on the Government to hold an open debate on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Trident is due to be decommissioned in 2024 and according to the Ministry of Defence, the decision on Trident must be taken within the lifetime of this Parliament. Tony Blair says that no decision has yet been made but has stated that retaining a nuclear deterrent is 'the right thing': however, The Methodist Church believes that it is vital that the issue is properly understood and debated before a decision is made.

Steve Hucklesby, the Secretary for International Affairs for the Methodist Church said 'following the widely-perceived failure of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference in May, it is more important than ever that the UK takes a lead in the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. The Hiroshima Day commemorations on Saturday 6 August, which mark the 60th anniversary of the first use of the atomic bomb, serve as a reminder of the appalling effects of nuclear weapons. We have the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the world. At a time when the UK is apparently unable to afford to meet our promise on spending on international development of 0.7% of GDP until 2013, it is only right that we have a full and open debate on a replacement of Trident that would cost at least £10 billion.'

Anthea Cox, Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice for the Methodist Church said 'part of the debate we want is to ask whether Britain's national security depends on a weapons system that can only be used to inflict widespread devastation on another nation-state. The threats we increasingly face are not deterred by our nuclear weapons because they come from groups, individuals or ideologies, rather than nations.'

In 1996 the Methodist Conference expressed its belief that 'as more and more countries achieve nuclear capability, major disarmament measures are urgently needed to avoid global proliferation' and called for 'a genuine willingness to forego Britain's own nuclear capability (whether unilaterally or multilaterally) in order to stop nuclear proliferation.' The Methodist Church is therefore asking its members to contact their MPs to request a public debate on the renewal of Trident, and to ask them to engage with the question of the renewal of Britain's nuclear weapons capabilities.

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