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Most Britons Want International Deal Banning All Nuclear Weapons

A bomb goes BOOM.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 15, 2007
Some 64 percent of the British public believe that their government should back an international agreement banning all nuclear weapons, according to a new poll released Monday. The YouGov poll was published as the House of Commons Defence Select Committee began studying the government's case for modernizing its Trident nuclear missile deterrent ahead of a full parliamentary vote in March.

Only 18 percent disagreed when asked about the following: "International conventions are in force banning chemical and biological weapons. The UK government should support a similar convention to ban nuclear weapons."

The remaining 18 percent said they did not know whether to agree or disagree.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which sent the survey by e-mail, said a draft convention aimed at outlawing all nuclear weapons and outlining inspection and verification procedures is lodged at the United Nations.

YouGov, which sampled 2,253 adults online between January 8 and January 10, also asked if the British government's decision to replace Trident will encourage states without nuclear weapons to develop them in future.

Some 43 percent agreed that it did, 29 percent disagreed and 28 percent did not know, according to the poll results. Bruce Kent, vice president for the CND anti-nuclear lobby, will give evidence to the Defence Select Committee, according to CND.

In a written submission to the committee, CND called the government's case an "inadequate and pedestrian response to the enormous security challenges facing Britain and the world today."

CND urged the government instead to initiate a global summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation as well as support the draft Nuclear Weapons Convention lodged at the United Nations.

Prime Minister Tony Blair called last month for modernizing the Trident nuclear missile system currently based on four Vanguard class Royal Navy submarines, one of which is always on patrol and fully armed.

The plan calls for a new generation of nuclear submarines at a cost of up to 20 billion pounds (39.5 billion dollars).

While the Cold War is over, Blair said states like North Korea and Iran both had "highly dubious" reasons to pursue a nuclear weapons capability, and other rogue states were a distinct reason for Britain to keep its deterrent.

However, in an apparent concession to critics from within his own party and the anti-nuclear lobby, Blair promised to cut the number of stockpiled nuclear warheads by 20 percent from about 200 currently to 160.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US Defends Gulf Buildup, Calls Iran Actions 'Very Negative'
Brussels (AFP) Jan 15, 2007
Calling Iran's actions in the Middle East "very negative, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday a US military buildup in the Gulf is intended to show Washington's long-term commitment to the region. "We are simply trying to communicate to the region that we are going to be there for a long time," he told reporters after meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels.

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