Kingston Peace News - February 2022

The newsletter of Kingston Peace Council / Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Happy Nuclear New Year?

Big five renew pledge against nuclear war but …

Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapons States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races (with 5 flags)While western nations continue to make belligerent utterances against Russia and China it was somewhat comforting that the New Year began with an unequivocal denunciation of nuclear war by the world’s five principal nuclear armed nations.

On January 3 a joint declaration was issued by the US, the UK, France, Russia and China, which stated:

“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far reaching consequences we also affirm that nuclear weapons – for as long as they continue to exist – should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.”

The joint statement also emphasised complying with “our bilateral and multi-lateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments.”

And it went on: “We are committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations.”

Increase stockpile

Quite where that sits with the British Government unilaterally deciding to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, the hypersonic missile tests by Russia and China, and the AUKUS agreement between the US, the UK and Australia is unclear. It would seem that as far as the NPT is concerned only France is sticking strictly by the letter of the law.

Nevertheless, the overall tone of the statement was positive including this sentence: “We reiterate the validity of our previous statements on de-targeting, re-affirming that none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or any other state.”

China accuses US and Japan of thwarting NPT progress

China has hit back at the US and Japan for criticising the People’s Republic over nuclear policy. The US was the top threat to global strategic security, said Beijing, by lowering the threshold for nuclear weapons use. Japan while styling itself as a non-nuclear weapon state kept in long term storage nuclear weapons grade plutonium.

China, meanwhile, had an “unequivocal” and “unconditional” no-first-use policy.

No First Use pressure at NPT conference

The Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, due to take place in January, has now been postponed until August, it was announced. In addition to the five main nuclear weapons states, there are 186 States Parties to the Treaty and the conference will discuss what member nations can do to prevent nuclear war and implement nuclear armament commitments.

Writing to all 191 signatory nations the organisation No First Use Global has called on the NPT Review Conference, the tenth such gathering since 1970, to start the process to end permanently the arms race and phase out the role of nuclear weapons by supporting no-first-use policies and ceasing to manufacture nuclear weapons. They call for these actions to be underway by the 11th review conference scheduled for 2025.

The letter also calls on states to commit to a timeframe of no later than 2045 to fulfil the Treaty’s Article VI obligation to achieve the global elimination of nuclear weapons. Nations should also re-allocate budgets and public investment from the nuclear weapons industry to instead support public health, climate stabilisation and sustainable development.

The letter goes on to commend China and India for unilateral no-first-use policies and China and Russia for adopting a bilateral no-first-use agreement. India is not a member state of the NPT, neither are Israel, Pakistan or North Korea.

Campaign for UK to support anti-nukes treaty

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is moving forward and the first meeting of States Parties is to take place in Vienna on March 22-24. The meeting is between representatives of those 59 nations that have to date ratified the TPNW to discuss the next steps for the ban. Other countries who have not signed yet can send observers and both Germany and Norway have agreed so to do.

The UK has refused to even send an observer and CND is now campaigning to get Britain to send a representative, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. The campaign is buoyed by polling that shows clearly that the public wants to see the government make a positive effort to get rid of this country’s nuclear armaments.

Every demographic

A Survation poll for CND conducted early last year showed 77% of those surveyed supported a total global nuclear weapons ban. This total included 71% of Conservative voters and 83% of Labour voters.

Some 59% supported the government signing up to the TPNW, including 50% of Conservative voters and 68% of Labour voters. The survey covered every demographic – age, regions and nations of the UK, education level, income bracket, the 2019 general election vote and the 2016 EU referendum vote.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“The government should cease its intransigence and engage constructively with this new Treaty – including the provisions which allow the UK to sign up while submitting a time-constrained plan for disarmament.”

Jeremy Corbyn MP, CND vice president commented: “We must all step up our campaigning efforts to force the British Government to sign the ban treaty. And we must step up our campaigning for an end to Trident, with defence diversification and job security.”

So what can all of us do to help? CND has launched a campaign called Talks not Bombs, with details available on its website ( including resources to help campaigning including a digital toolkit that sets out essential information about the forthcoming TPNW conference and the actions the supporters are being asked to take.

These include writing to various people including the Foreign Secretary, your local MP and your local newspaper. The CND website has a model letter for your local paper and for the Foreign Secretary.

Also, on February 9 at 6.30pm CND will be holding an online meeting to discuss the campaign. The campaign website page includes details of speakers plus a link to register to be part of this free online event.

Tutu – the man who wouldn’t keep quiet

Archbishop Desmond Tutu holding his hand out, with part of a large United Nations emblem behind him“I wish I could keep quiet about the plight of the Palestinians. I can’t,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu who died, aged 90, on Boxing Day.

Although the great scourge of apartheid and peace campaigner could not keep silent on the issue, plenty of others, including the mainstream British media, could. There were many flowing tributes in the press and on TV about his ceaseless battle against the racist South African regime which he, together with Nelson Mandela and others, eventually overcame, but the silence was deafening when it came to referring to the fearless manner in which, more recently, he championed the cause of the Palestinian people and branded the actions of the Israeli state as apartheid.

“What’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa,” he had said.  Tutu was to lead a UN fact-finding mission to investigate a November 2006 Israeli attack on Gaza's Beit Hanoun district that led to the deaths of 19 Palestinians, including seven children. Israel refused to grant Tutu authorisation to enter Gaza, but he and his team were eventually able to travel to the besieged territory via Egypt.

They met with survivors and eye-witnesses and produced a report to the Human Rights Council. More recently, in an article published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2014, Tutu declared his support for the international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a peaceful means of opposing Israeli occupation. "Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of 'normalcy' in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo," he wrote.


Reading many mainstream obituaries of ‘the Arch’ you would be excused for thinking none of this ever happened. The first mention of his death on the BBC overlooked it. By the time a more detailed appreciation was published it managed to include only a brief paragraph stating “… he angered the Israelis when … he compared black South Africans with the Arabs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. He said he could not understand how people who had suffered as the Jews had, could inflict such suffering on the Palestinians.”

But the most egregious attitude was found in, of all newspapers, The Guardian, that initially published an obituary that completely ignored his support for the Palestinian cause and then refused to publish readers’ comments complaining about that omission. The paper initially claimed these comments would “violate The Guardian’s standards.”


The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign took up the issue and, along with others whose comments had been ignored, pressured the newspaper basically to do its job properly. A letter was sent signed by, among others, Bruce Kent, Victoria Brittan, John Pilger, Gillian Slovo, Ken Loach, and South African parliamentarian Chief Mandla Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela.

The Guardian relented and published a new obituary – which nevertheless still felt it necessary to include criticisms of Tutu’s criticism of Israel. The newspaper also reinstated the previously ignored readers’ comments.

Guantánamo marks 20 years!

Moazzam Begg in a blue shirtThere is growing frustration over the failure of the Biden administration to fulfil one of the President’s campaign pledges and close the Guantánamo Bay prison camp whose 20th anniversary has just been marked.

“Most of the Guantánamo prisoners had never been to America, but America came to them. Nine prisoners never left Guantanamo alive and 39 remain imprisoned,” said Moazzam Begg (pictured above), himself a former inmate.

Following 9/11 the camp was located in Cuba so it was deliberately beyond the jurisdiction of the US legal system. Its activites also flouted the regulations of the Geneva Conventions.

Recently the retired US Marine Corps General Michael Lehnert, whose task it was to set up the camp and who became its first commandant, said: “To me, the existence of Guantánamo is anathema to everything that we represent, and it needs to be closed for that reason.”

Since Guantánamo opened it has held 780 Muslim men but, as The Guardian reported, marking the 20th anniversary last month, of that total only 12 have ever been charged with an offence and only two of those brought to military trial and convicted.

Chairing a meeting of Congress’s judiciary committee recently Democrat Senator Dick Durbin commented: “A generation of conflict has come and gone yet the Guantánamo detention facility is still open, and every day it remains open is an affront to our system of justice and the rule of law.”

President Obama vowed to close it down and reduced the number of inmates substantially but thus far Joe Biden has failed to finish the job.

Half a billion

And as time, inaction and bureaucracy grind on the cost of maintaining the facility and its ageing inmates continues to grow. The Pentagon has asked for $88m to build a hospice for ageing detainees, reports The New York Times. The prison camp already costs over half a billion dollars a year, working out at nearly $14m per detainee.

The most recent inmate to be released, the only one so far under Joe Biden’s presidency, is Moroccan Abdul Latif Nasser who has been returned to his home country after spending 19 years in Guantánamo without charges being brought. He was originally slated for release in 2016 but the paperwork was stopped when Trump came into power and nothing happened for a further five years.

US administration officials now claim that a lot of groundwork to close the camp is being undertaken behind the scenes.

Peace dividend called for

More than 50 Nobel laureates have signed an open letter calling for all countries to cut their military spending by 2% a year for the next five years, and put half the saved money in a UN fund to combat pandemics, the climate crisis, and extreme poverty.

Coordinated by the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli, the letter was supported by a large group of scientists and mathematicians and was published to coincide with the launch of a new Peace Dividend campaign.

In 2020 world military spending rose to $2trillion, double what it was in 2000. The 2% cut called for would release $1.3 trillion between 2025 and 2030.

The climate emergency, military emissions and the future

from the book The Nutmeg’s Curse, by Amitav Ghosh, summarised by Carol Clisby

Ghosh argues that the current planetary crisis is rooted in the centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism.  The colonialists were originally determined to control the nutmeg trade and justified this by arguing that the Banda islanders were 'inferior beings', who had to be civilised  -  this view apparently justified the mass killings and slavery of the indigenous population that followed and of course the Banda islanders were only the first.  The earth came to be viewed in a mechanistic way, as a resource for us to use and not as a force of its own that we should live with.  The inequality that we see today and the exploitation of the earth's resources are direct results of this thinking.

Fossil fuels, treated as resources, are a major source of climate change. The problem, however, lies in the fact that the oil trade is controlled by the rich world, mainly the United States, the current hegemonic power.  The US military is a global oil protection service, guarding pipelines, refineries and loading facilities in the Middle East and elsewhere.  US military bases watch over transport choke points e.g. the Straits of Hormuz.

Threatened to sell

The 'petrodollar' system, which is the foundation of the contemporary US economy, ensures that all oil trading is in dollars  -  Saudi Arabia agreed to this in exchange for preferential access to US treasury bonds and security guarantees, following the Arab nations oil embargo in 1974, (protesting against US support for Israel).  Saudi Arabia currently holds an estimated 1 trillion dollars of US treasury bonds.  In 2016 Saudi threatened to sell 750 billion dollars of treasury bonds if Congress passed a bill holding it liable for the 9/11 attacks - needless to say this bill did not pass.

(N.B.----one mystery solved----I had always wondered why the blame was seemingly put upon Iraq/Afghanistan).

The US war machine is central to maintaining its trading dominance.  The Pentagon is the largest consumer of energy in the US.  It has 900 domestic military installations, a vast fleet of vehicles, ships and aircraft and 1000 bases in other countries. Non-nuclear aircraft carriers use 5621 gallons of fuel/hour  -  as much fuel in one day as a small mid-western town uses in a year.  In the 1990s the US military consumed approximately 25 billion tons of fuel/year  - more than the total commercial energy consumption of nearly 2/3 of the world's countries.  Of course China, India, South Africa, Turkey and Russia are also now expanding their armed forces and consequently their use of fossil fuels.


Militarisation is the single most ecologically destructive human endeavour.  Fossil fuels are central to the projection of military power and to warfare.  This is of course the problem when it comes to dealing with the climate emergency - how can the rich world reduce its dependence on the very resources on which its geopolitical power is founded?  To do so would upend the global order.  Renewable energy would liberate poorer countries and even up the system.  It is not that alternatives are not available or could not be developed - it is that the whole capitalist, neoliberal system and global power structure is against change.  No wonder that the US insisted that military warfare emissions were not included at Kyoto in 1997.

Global warming

In a 'more of the same' strategy, rich world military resources are now focused on dealing with the conflicts that global warming has, or will soon create -  droughts, movements of people, terrorism, regional wars etc.   -  Mary itemised these clearly in the last Kingston Peace News  -  indeed 'Global warming is a war, of the rich against the poor.

Britain prepares for war … again!

Sabre-rattling has become almost deafening among Western nations as Britain in particular and NATO in general try to find a future role for themselves.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was in full jingoistic mode recently for the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War when he proclaimed that Britain would always “stand up to bullies” and should “always” be ready for war!

Wouldn’t it be a revelation if a British Government ever announced that it was ready for peace!  NATO, the UK and US have been beating the drum incessantly about a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine without bothering to reflect how their own nations might respond if they had been continually hedged in by opposing states, military bases and belligerent rhetoric. Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins wrote an excellent piece on this in the paper’s January 21 edition ‘Britain should stay well out of Russia’s border dispute with Ukraine’:

And as if one perpetual enemy were not enough the baiting of China continues as Britain fails to comprehend that it is no longer an empire and the US fails to come to turns with that fact that, economically, there is a new kid on the block which is rapidly outpacing and outperforming it.

It would be comic were it not so serious to witness the US agonising about democracy and authoritarian regimes across the globe while still failing to act decisively in the face of ongoing, if not accelerating, attempts by a former president and his acolytes, backed by one of the world’s most powerful media organisations, to gerrymander, disenfranchise and manipulate forthcoming elections. First, with the Congressional midterm elections later this year and then with the next Presidential election in 2024, they are well advanced in their plan to turn the United States of America into an ultra right-wing, white supremacist autocracy in charge of the world’s most powerful military forces.

Where does that prospect leave the special relationship with the UK? Judging by some current legislation and policy intentions in respect of the right to protest and the future of an independent BBC we can be confident that a White House that was indistinguishable from Bolsonaro’s Brazil or Orbán’s Hungary would be positively welcomed by some of the present British Cabinet.

By Phillip Cooper

Start an illegal war, get a gong from the Queen

At the time KP News went to press the petition calling for Tony Blair’s knighthood to be rescinded had reached more than 1,124,000 signatures.

Facilitated by the petition was launched in response to news that the Queen was to make him a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British order of chivalry.

The fact that so prestigious and honour should be bestowed on the Prime Minster who took Britain into an illegal foreign war that caused at least 650,000 deaths has spurred on the gathering of signatures. Civilians continue to die as a result of injuries sustained either directly or indirectly through the conflict. In 2021 669 such civilian deaths were recorded.

Among those calling for the knighthood to be abandoned are relatives of some of the 179 British military personnel who lost their lives during the war. Prior to the Iraq War of 2003 Blair also committed British troops in support of US forces to Afghanistan as a response to 9/11. Some 454 British troops lost their lives during the 13-year deployment.

When the New Years Honours List for 2022 was announced both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Leader Sir Kier Starmer agreed that Blair had “earned his knighthood”, Sir Keir arguing that he had “made Britain a better country”.

The Stop the War Coalition is organising a protest against the honour at the annual Garter Day procession on June 13 2022, when Mr Blair will be handed the title during a ceremony in Windsor. It is calling for as many people as possible to join the protest and show solidarity with the millions whose lives were destroyed as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Labour watches MoD’s wasteline

Labour has accused the MoD of wasting £13billion during the time the current Conservative Government has been in office.

The BBC reported that researchers had identified 67 cases of waste since 2010 including cancelled contracts and programmes that went over budget.  The MoD has an annual budget of more than £40billion, some half of which is spent on equipment. To date, Labour said, none of its 36 current major projects was flagged green, meaning they were on time and within the original budget.


Among the headline £13billion is £4.8billion on contracts that were subsequently cancelled. One such notable decision was the programme to upgrade the Warrior armoured fighting vehicle which was scrapped after the expenditure of £585million.

Meanwhile a project for a replacement vehicle, called AJAX, has been “paused” by the MoD when service personnel testing the prototypes received vibration and hearing injuries. Health and safety ‘mitigations’ meant it could not be driven faster than 20mph, could not reverse over an obstacle more than 20cm in height and the crew could not stay inside the vehicle for more than 90 minutes, reported the UK Defence Journal. Bear in mind it is such equipment that jingoistic ministers expect to counter a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine!

Among other examples of waste and incompetence highlighted by Labour are:

The BBC’s defence correspondent, Jonathan Beale also pointed to the fact that the last Labour Government was accused by the Conservatives of creating a ‘black hole’ in the MoD’s budget, following wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ironically, another of the Labour Party’s current examples of Tory MoD wastage is writing off the £213million cost of hundreds of armoured vehicle purchased for those two wars!

Arms factory closed

A sustained campaign against an Israeli-owned weapons factory in North West England has culminated in a stunning victory. Elbit Ferranti in Oldham manufactured components for drones and other pilotless aircraft that have been supplied to the Israeli military and, say campaigners, have been used in attacks against families in Gaza.

For the past 18 months the factory has been the target of protests by the Oldham Peace & Justice Group and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. Occupations by the direct action group, Palestinian Action, have shut the factory repeatedly and halted production.

Now, reports the Morning Star, Elbit has announced it is moving out and has sold the factory to TT Electronics as part of a ‘restructuring’ of its British operations.

Elbit has a total of ten other sites around the UK.

Keep taking the tablets!

Nearly 100,000 anti-radiation pills have been distributed to the residents of three English ports in case nuclear-powered submarines berthed there go into meltdown.

The revelation comes in a report published this month by the website Declassified UK. Following Freedom of Information requests to local authorities journalists discovered that 97,430 stable iodine tablets were pre-issued to people living in Plymouth, Portland and Barrow-in-Furness between 2016 and last year.

Commenting on the Declassified UK report Dr. Frank Boulton, a retired NHS physician, said: “Were a meltdown of a working nuclear-powered engine to occur in dock, substantial quantities of highly radioactive iodine would be released.” But, although the tablets should prove effective against such a problem, they would prove useless against other harmful radio-isotopes that would almost certainly also escape into the atmosphere.

Kingston Peace Council AGM

will take place on Wednesday 9 February 2022 on Zoom starting at 8pm

We shall circulate the Zoom link by email nearer the time.

If you do not have access to the internet we are sorry that you will be unable to attend, but we do not wish to deny you the opportunity to make a contribution to the organisation of KPC or make suggestions about what you think we should be doing, so please contact one of us (see contacts page) if you are willing to help in any way, or have ideas to be discussed.  Also, please contact us if you do have an email address but we do not have it.

Currently we have no Chairperson or Secretary (at present members take turns in these roles) so if you feel able to assist with one of these positions, or in any other way, please put your name forward - you do not have to wait for someone to nominate you.  We would also welcome additional help with production of this newsletter.  We currently have three members who edit it on a rotating basis, but if you would like to join this team, even if only as an occasional editor, please let us know.  We would give you help to get you started.

There are other roles essential to efficient running of the group, so any offers of help would be welcome.

As well as filling these roles we shall take time at the AGM to look back over the past year and plan for the year ahead.

Newsletter Editor for this issue: Phil Cooper

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND