Only a decade to bring nuclear weapons under control, says PM's advisor on nuclear proliferation

Baroness Shirley Williams is warning that the proliferation ofnuclear weapons is one of the greatest threats to the survival ofhumankind.

The Prime Minister's advisor on nuclear proliferation made thestatement just days after the White House indicated plans for'dramatic reductions' in the nuclear arsenal of the United Statesof America. Baroness Williams was endorsing a campaign by analliance of nine UK Churches, which calls on the British Governmentto make a commitment to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons,building a safer future for all.

The Churches' campaign, entitled Now is the Time, joins the WorldCouncil of Churches and others in pressing for governments to putall bomb-grade material under international control and commit tomaking the use and possession of nuclear weapons illegal through anew Nuclear Weapons Convention. They are asking people to sign anonline petition (at www.endnuclearweapons.org.uk)expressing support for these aims.

Baroness Williams said: "The proliferation of nuclear weapons andclimate change are the greatest threats to the survival ofhumankind. We have only a few years, at most a decade or so, tocontrol and eventually abolish nuclear weapons. The support ofconcerned citizens in the UK and elsewhere is vital. The Churcheshave already played a crucial part in breaking the bonds of debt onpoor countries and their leadership on this issue is equallyimportant and urgently needed."

The alliance includes the Church of England, the Church ofScotland, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain,the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the United ReformedChurch, the International Affairs Department of the CatholicBishops Conference of England and Wales, the Catholic BishopsConference of Scotland and the Archbishop of the Church in Wales.The Churches are voicing these concerns in advance of the NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference this May, whichthey believe will be crucial for international disarmament.

The Rt Revd Dr Tom Butler Lord Bishop of Southwark, said: "Wecannot tackle the threat of nuclear terrorism by simply rehearsingold doctrines of defence. The simple fact is that more nuclearweapons do not make for a safer world. We must instead turn to theuniversal adoption of common rules and standards, enforced byinternational treaties. It is crucial that all nuclear armed statesnow demonstrate a willingness to redefine their concepts ofsecurity."

"Nuclear weapons instil fear. They are divisive andcounter-productive to a sustainable peace between nations," addedSteve Hucklesby, Policy Advisor for the Joint Public Issues Team."The recent commitment by the United States and Russia to reducetheir missiles and warheads has injected new life intonon-proliferation and disarmament negotiations. We must grasp thisopportunity and commit our governments to the road to zero nuclearweapons."

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.endnuclearweapons.org.uk.