Nuclear Illegality

On 8 April 2021, I wrote in an article in the University of Cambridge’s main student newspaper, Varsity, that ‘[m]inisters are so invested in a nostalgic vision of British power that the law may be happily trampled underfoot.’ I was writing with respect to the government’s plans to violate Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which Britain signed in 1968.

A legal opinion by Professor Christine Chinkin and Dr Louise Arimatsu confirms my stance. They concluded, among other things, that:

The announcement by the UK government of the increase in nuclear warheads and its modernisation of its weapons system constitutes a breach of the NPT article VI

Furthermore, Lord McDonald, former Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Office, said in the House of Lords on 22 April that increasing Britain’s nuclear arsenal is ‘expensive and incompatible with our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.’

The Conservative government does not care a jot about the rule of law. The sooner this is widely understood, the better.

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