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Church leaders say United Kingdom’s “nuclear weapons increase is immoral and wrong”

Posted on: April 2, 2021 12:38 PM
A Trident II missile fires its first stage after an underwater launch from a Royal Navy Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarine.
Photo Credit: U.S Department of Defense photo (public domain)

Church leaders, including the Archbishops of York and Wales, have described the UK’s intention to increase their nuclear-weapons capacity as “immoral and wrong”.

Church leaders, including the Archbishops of Wales and York, have described an announcement by the UK government that it intends to increase its nuclear-weapons capacity as “immoral and wrong”. In a joint statement, Archbishop John Davies, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, and a host of other Christian leaders from a number of denominations, said that “this announcement takes us in a worrying and wholly wrong direction.”

In an agreement made in 2010, the number of Trident warheads retained by the UK was to be 180. Now, the UK government has said that this will be increased to 260, a 40 per cent rise.

The church leaders’ statement is signed by members of the Church of England, Church in Wales, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Methodist Church in Britain, Quakers in Britain, and the United Reformed Church. It was also signed on behalf of the ecumenical group Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

In it, they say that the existing nuclear warheads were the equivalent of hundreds of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima; adding that “it is immoral that the UK Government is committing resources which could be spent on the common good of our society, to stockpiling even more.”

On 17 March, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell addressed an emergency rally organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament pressure group. He described the proposed increase as “inexplicable, illogical, immoral” and “legally unjustifiable”. He said that “the best way of building security and stability in the world is to invest in international aid, not weapons of mass deception.”

The Anglican Consultative Council passed a resolution at its 2019 meeting in Hong Kong, in which they described the “growing re-emergence of global tensions relating to the development and use of nuclear weapons”. The council reiterated its support for previous ACC resolutions on nuclear weapons and called for a report on their implementation.

The UK government’s decision to increase its nuclear weapons capacity follows a recent UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a multilateral legally binding instrument for nuclear disarmament in two decades. The treaty was approved by 122 nations at the UN General Assembly in 2017; and came into force on 22 January this year after Honduras became the 50th nation to ratify it.