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Open letter to Boris Johnson

Dear Boris Johnson,

At the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), we were excited to read about the decision of the U.N. General Assembly on October 27th to initiate negotiations on the terms of a legally-binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons worldwide, according to Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

We were, however, concerned that you were not representing Her Majesty’s Government at the General Assembly in New York.  We were disappointed that the UK did not vote in favour of this resolution, or welcome these multilateral disarmament negotiations.  We were shocked that there was no coverage of this ground-breaking decision on the BBC.

It appears that the UK was one of only 38 nations to vote against this move towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, while 123 countries, a significant majority of the United Nations, voted for negotiations to start in 2017.  In addition, the elected members of the European Parliament have backed this move at the United Nations, and they are also calling for a nuclear free Europe.

Your Government often comments on the significance of the NPT as the forum for nuclear negotiations.  You will know that the treaty states that “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to a cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.

The UN has now given you the opportunity to fulfil this expectation, and we look forward to hearing that your Government will be sending an elected representative to the new talks in 2017.  In August 2016 President Obama referred to nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, “ …we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”

In what appears to be total disregard of the views of the nations of the world, your Government has just voted to gamble £205 billion over a period of years, to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system.  With the drop in the value of sterling this cost could now be increased by 25%.  Yet long before they can be deployed drone technology will make them targets.

We expect to hear your Government’s explanation of its actions in respect of this ground-breaking decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  These new multilateral negotiations on ridding the world of nuclear weapons will start in 2017 and are open to all nations to participate.  Please assure us that the UK Government will take part as there can be no cogent excuse for not doing so.

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