Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary, and Vernon Coaker, Shadow Defence Secretary, have written an open letter calling on David Cameron to attend a conference examining the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, due to take place in Vienna at the start of December.
In the letter (the full text of which you can read below) the two point out that the US Government has agreed to attend the conference, and that the UK Government should do the same.
The letter also stresses that the UK should continue to “actively enhance momentum on global multilateral disarmament and take a lead internationally in pushing the agenda of global anti-proliferation with nuclear and non-nuclear states.”
Cameron is yet to respond, but we’ll keep you updated on any further developments.
The full text of the letter from Douglas Alexander and Vernon Coaker to David Cameron:
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing with regards to the upcoming Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, scheduled to take place in December 2014.
When recently asked whether the UK Government would be attending the Vienna Conference, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs indicated that an invitation to the conference had been received and that ‘[the Government] are considering whether to attend.’ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State also went on to note that ‘none of the P5 nuclear weapon states [had] attended the conferences in the past’.
As we are sure you are aware, the United States Government announced on 7th November that, in contrast to its previous position, it will attend this conference following “a careful review of the agenda” and “discussions with the conference host”, believing that there are “real prospects for constructive engagement with conference participants.”
In light of this, we are asking for you to clarify your Government’s position on attendance at the upcoming Vienna Conference.
Labour believes that Britain should be leading international efforts for multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, while maintaining a minimum, credible independent nuclear deterrent, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent.
Following the action we took in government, it is vital that the UK continue to actively enhance momentum on global multilateral disarmament and take a lead internationally in pushing the agenda of global anti-proliferation with nuclear and non-nuclear states. We recognise the success of past international bans on weapons of mass destruction such as landmines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons.
The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons offers an opportunity for the UK to show leadership on these issues.
With the participation of some of the world’s largest economies and our key allies, a decision not to attend would be a missed opportunity. As such, we strongly urge you to ensure that the UK Government is represented in Vienna.
Given the public interest in the issue, we are releasing this letter to the media.
Vernon Coaker MP
Douglas Alexander MP