The current Coronavirus pandemic represents a significant challenge for our society and YSCND offers solidarity to all our supporters affected by the crisis and extends our gratitude to all our essential workers who have put their own health at risk for the benefit of us all.

While CND’s national office has been closed since the lockdown began in March, our staff has continued to work from home to advance the cause of disarmament as the need for us to continue to make our arguments in this time is crucial. Already we are seeing the limitations of our current understandings of ‘Security’, as whilst the U.K. Government is committed to spending £205bn on the replacement of Trident under the notion of keeping us safe, we are finding our healthcare system has been underfunded to the point where we are critically underprepared for this pandemic. Moreover, the U.K. government’s own strategic defence review in 2015 listed a ‘health crisis’ a tier one strategic threat, as opposed to a nuclear attack which it only mentioned briefly as a tier two threat.

This raises obvious questions about how that money could be better spent and reinforces our message of NHS Not Trident. Our friends at Scottish CND have produced the infographic found at the bottom of this post which really demonstrates how much better equipped the NHS would be if the government were to divest from Trident.

We have also witnessed companies such as Airbus and Rolls Royce temporarily divest their manufacturing capabilities away from arms towards ventilators, which will play a crucial role in nursing patients suffering from COVID-19.  Those of us in the disarmament movement should undoubtedly welcome this move from the government and take the opportunity to ask why we can’t permanently re-orientate arms companies away from the production of weapons of war and towards production for the purpose of human good.

Our existing status quo, where our health service is critically underfunded and our care workers and nurses underpaid whilst we spend billions each year on nuclear weapons we will likely never use, cannot last. Moreover, with the growing threat of climate catastrophe becoming more of a reality each year, the need for divestment from arms production and toward green technologies couldn’t be clearer.

In the aftermath of this pandemic, there will be a discussion about how we can be better prepared for future pandemics and similar national crises and it will be imperative that YSCND and other campaigns continue to put forward our arguments.

On a practical level, YSCND continues to remain active with student groups such as SOAS CND conducting their reading group meetings over Zoom. Whilst our AGM previously scheduled for the 28th March had to sadly be postponed, we are still accepting applications for those interested in taking up committee positions and will reschedule our AGM for a future date as the situation becomes clearer.

The roles can be found here: If you are interested in any of the roles, or would like to hear more about them, please email us on

The next few months will be challenging for all of us, but we hope to keep organising around the cause of peace and disarmament with the tools available to us.

In solidarity,

Alex Carlen

black image with white text "each Trident warhead costs £24.9 million - what could this pay for?"

NUCLEAR War and climate CATASTROPHE: the two big threats

In the aftermath of the Second World War, a group of scientists who had participated in the Manhattan Project, which produced the world’s first nuclear weapons, set up the Doomsday Clock to determine how close humanity was to a catastrophe caused by human activity. In January of this year, the clock was put at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has been since its foundation. The reason given by the scientists, as to why they see humankind teetering on the edge of disaster, is the dual threats of climate change and nuclear war.

Young people have mobilised on a massive scale in response to the threat of climate change over the past couple of years, led by the school climate strikers, Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion. The fact that young people are willing to organise across borders at record levels to ensure a future free from the existential threat of climate catastrophe is a hugely inspiring and positive development; but it needs to be complimented by a revival in youth activism against the other existential threat of nuclear war.

These two issues cannot be divorced from one another. Every pound of the £205 billion that the UK government spends on a new nuclear weapons system could have instead been spent investing in renewable energy sources or green technologies, areas often starved of investment by governments across the globe. The failure to tackle climate change also costs governments a huge amount in damage caused by extreme weather phenomenon. For example, the floods devastating communities in England and Wales, the bushfires in Australia or the sinking of Indonesian homes into the sea.

Climate change also increases the likelihood of war, as resources such as land, clean water and food become increasingly scarce, whilst more of the earth becomes uninhabitable and populations are forced to migrate. Under these pressures states may lose control and non-state actors such as terrorist groups could gain control of nuclear weapons. Any use of nuclear weapons would reap ecological devastation on not only local ecosystems but globally too, as well as hugely damaging the ozone layer – affecting the life which depends on it. This would be in addition to the millions of lives which would be lost in a global nuclear war, both in the immediate blast and in the years after.

This means the solution to climate change must involve global nuclear disarmament. Not only would this free up a massive amount of resources which could then be used in the fight against climate change, it would also help to ensure a future for young people and our planet free from nuclear war.

To achieve this we need a mass mobilisation of young people tying the two issues together and ensuring we have our voices heard. Youth and Student CND will be holding a meeting in London to start planning the fight back against these two existential threats to our futures and we want to hear from as diverse a range of voices as possible. Join us on March 28th!

We’ll be discussing campaigning tactics for the years ahead, building links with other organisations and deciding how best to mobilise our generation.

We’ll also be electing a new committee, if you’re someone who feels passionate about the cause of nuclear disarmament please consider applying. For information on each of the posts available please click here

The Eventbrite registration link for the event is here:

The Facebook event can be found here:


Why Trump’s latest budget shows YSCND is more important than ever

Earlier this week, when announcing his latest budget, President Donald Trump called for $28.9 billion to upgrade the missiles that deliver US nuclear weapons, as well as $19.8 billion for modernising the nuclear weapons stockpile. This reinforces the central role of America’s 6,185 nuclear weapons in US military strategy. This is a nearly 20% increase compared to his previous budget request and comes at a time when up to 13 million US children are living in poverty, a problem which, according to figures from the Children’s Defense Fund, could be solved by investment of only $52bn in welfare and children’s services.  A similar story is found in Britain where the government is replacing its current nuclear weapons system, Trident, at a cost of at least £205 billion, while over 4 million children in the UK live in poverty.

In addition to the fact vast amounts of money is being used to serve an imperial and militaristic agenda instead of solving problems which effect ordinary working people, the US and UK increasing their nuclear weapons capability will escalate a nuclear arms race with nuclear-armed states such as China and Russia. It may also encourage other states to further, or embark on, their nuclear weapon development.

We also have to ask ourselves, do we really trust leaders such as Trump and Johnson with the responsibility of controlling these weapons? During his own impeachment trial back in the 1970s, President Richard Nixon remarked ‘I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes, 70 million people will be dead’. This was, and remains, undoubtedly true and should be enough to make us reconsider whether our current leaders should be endowed with such power. Particularly when, only earlier this year, we witnessed the unpredictability of Trump’s military strategy when he ordered the assassination of an Iranian general without informing his allies.

Within this context, it is vital that young people in favour of building a nuclear free world come together and have our voices heard. Young people in Britain and elsewhere have a proud history of campaigning against nuclear weapons and against wars. In the past year we have seen an explosion of youth activism to ensure our futures in the face of the existential threat posed by climate change. This development is hugely inspiring and important, but as young people we must also work to counter the other existential threat of nuclear war.

Join the movement today to help build a nuclear-free world and a future for young people free from the horrors of nuclear war.

Alex Carlen


*Guest Blog Post* A world without nuclear weapons?

A world without nuclear weapons?  I would definitely go for that – and have been doing so for at least 60 years!  But, let’s be positive – a world WITH what?


Stores of conventional weapons at least enough to commit Guernicas, Coventrys or Dresdens over and over again?  Surely not – even though it’s what I thought for a few years after understanding I would be happy to see nukes done away with.


Let’s forget for a moment all that dreadful hardware and consider ourselves and our feelings and needs.


We are hearing a little more talk – if rather vague and ill-defined – of the importance of Values – Universal Human Values.  I don’t mean those values confined, constrained and even twisted by qualifying adjectives such as “British” or by some group or other wanting to make their point.


The media is full of talk about what may be called “Anti-values” like hate, anger, intolerance and disrespect.  We also learn that these should be condemned or challenged by the taking of revenge.  But that only takes us back to all those weapons.


Let’s try to break the cycle of violence and take a deeper look at just one of those Universal Human Values – and there could be close to a hundred of them that I’ve identified.  “Values-based Education” gets young people to learn about 22 of them as teachers integrate them into the whole curriculum.


How about the Value of “Tolerance”?


For me, being tolerant is accepting differences with good grace – in the way others may think, look, speak or act.  Being tolerant is being free of prejudice while knowing that all people have feelings, needs, hopes and dreams.  Tolerance is the accepting of things you may wish are different with patience and flexibility; tolerance means building unity with others who are different in some ways.


How do you view this Value?


Many thanks to John Morris a National Organiser of The Peace Party, Non-violence, Justice, Environment

To check out the website, Facebook page and Twitter: contact



Nuclear weapons: an outdated solution

What is the UK’s biggest political issue? A recent YouGov survey found that most people are concerned by either Brexit or the economy. Just 23% of people found defence and security to be the most important issues in Britain. So why does the UK government behave as if everyone in the UK believes the rest of the world is out to get us?

The UK government is obsessed with spending on defence and nuclear weapons. Theresa May recently announced an unexpected increase in funds for the Ministry of Defence. £600m has been found to build a new class of nuclear submarines, at a time when the NHS is in crisis and more than 300,000 people are homeless in the UK. The total cost of replacing the Trident nuclear submarines is around £205bn. Imagine what this money could do for our health service, schools and housing. How can defence – especially of the nuclear variety – be considered a greater priority than the wellbeing of this country’s people?

How many of the most common concerns could be solved by nuclear weapons? Interviews by ComRes in 2014 found that 47% of respondents aged 18-34 believed that nuclear weapons fail to protect the UK from modern day threats. Can a nuclear weapon feed anyone? Can a nuclear weapon stop a terrorist? What can a nuclear weapon do, apart from cause untold harm and severely escalate tensions between countries?

Even if you consider nuclear weapons a solution for UK defence, we are no longer living in the Cold War. As proven by recent revelations, enemies are able to infiltrate democracies in far more insidious ways than simply dropping a bomb. In February, 13 Russians were charged with interfering in the 2016 American election, mainly using the Internet. Both Russia and the United States possess nuclear weapons. These weapons did not act as a deterrent for these Russians, nor could have prevented such an attack.

The ComRes interviews found that most young people consider terrorism a problem for the modern world. The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is severe. As with attacks on democracy, terrorism can’t be stopped with nuclear weapons. The idea of two countries facing off like in the Cold War now seems old-fashioned. Thousands, if not millions, of lives can be devastated with a single press of the nuclear button.

In the mid-20th century, countries saw nuclear developments as a symbol of their national progress. Now, possessing such weapons can make a country seem paranoid and bloodthirsty. Nuclear weapons can make the whole world worse off – spending the billions of pounds reserved for their development on other issues could make it a better place.

By Lily Sheehan, Universities Officer, Greater Manchester & District CND

**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***

Fancy writing a blog for YSCND? Send us an email at or a Facebook message at


Not my President: how Donald Trump threatens the entire world – and what we can do to stop him

Donald Trump is the peace movement’s greatest enemy, but he could become its greatest asset.

20th January 2018 marked a year since Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. Whilst he is deplorable in pretty much every category, Trump’s warmongering is one of his most shocking and dangerous qualities. According to MSNBC, President Trump once asked his advisors about using nuclear weapons three times in a single foreign policy meeting. It is difficult to watch a foreign country experience tax relief for the rich and fatal blows to their healthcare system, but it is quite another for the president of such a country to possibly endanger everyone in the entire world. The embodiment of American imperialism and interventionism, Donald Trump may be the death of us all – or our saving grace.

You may be thinking – or hoping – that Donald Trump is simply America’s problem. Even with the former reality television star in charge, the United States remains one of the most powerful countries in the world. The U.S. Military budget for 2018 is US$824.6billion and the American nuclear arsenal is the second largest in the world. These facts, coupled with the Republicans’ unchecked political power, make the United States a credible threat to any country they so please. With Donald Trump’s tendency towards irrational rage, who knows which country may anger him next?

As Trump himself once said: “good people don’t go into government.” Judging by his record so far, he’s right. Since becoming President, Trump has maintained a feud with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, causing an unprecedented rise in tensions between the two countries. A spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said what we were all thinking: Trump is a “nuclear demon” and a “disruptor of global peace.” Describing the supreme leader as “short and fat” shows that Trump is willing to take a gamble with all of our lives. Amidst their feud with the United States government, North Korea is in the process of testing nuclear weapons. Whilst I am hardly an expert on foreign policy, even I know that it is a terrible idea to personally attack the leader of the only country in the world that currently refuses to adhere to norms in nuclear weapons testing and proliferation. Trump is capable of causing untold destruction, and it’s not clear if he even knows this.

Despite being the author of a book entitled The Art of the Deal, Trump has yet to negotiate any peace agreements. Last year, the Chinese government proposed the ‘freeze-for-freeze’ initiative. China advocates that if North Korea was to ‘freeze’ its nuclear weapons program, South Korea and the United States could ‘freeze’ their annual joint military exercises in return. Trump refused to accept or even discuss the deal, saying that similar agreements “have failed in the past.” One Chinese newspaper said the US has “casually wasted” opportunities given by China to open up a dialogue with North Korea. Rather than explore peaceful solutions to the North Korean problem, Trump would rather

take the aggressive route. Not only has he ignored a potential diplomatic solution, he has now taken to aggravating the situation, calling the North Korean Supreme Leader ‘rocket man’ whenever the opportunity presents itself. In typical Trump fashion, the President is more concerned with high-risk ‘negotiation’ strategies than the safety of his citizens and the wider world.

North Korea is not the only victim of Trump’s alleged business acumen. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a 2015 agreement that the U.S. signed with five other countries, banning Iran from developing nuclear weapons in return for lifting sanctions. The JCPOA worked well until October last year, when Trump decertified it, declaring it “one of the worst deals” he’d ever seen. Whilst this did not put an end to the deal entirely, it certainly strained the American relationship with the co-signers. In a rare joint statement, signatories (Britain, France and Germany) condemned this decision and said it was not in their “shared national security interest.” Not satisfied with angering potential adversary states, Trump is willing to make enemies of the countries that should be America’s closest allies.

But how does all of this affect us non-Americans? It is the nuclear aspect of Trump’s warmongering that is particularly worrying. Consider the devastating effects of Hiroshima in 1945: a typical modern weapon is 8 to 80 times larger than ‘Little Boy.’ According to Dr. Philip Webber, the Chair of Scientists for Global Responsibility UK, a study of two countries of comparable size to the United States and North Korea, using up to 100 warheads, indicted that this could be catastrophic for the victims. Dr. Webber theorised that such an attack would cause “severe frosts, reduced growing seasons, drought and famine lasting up to ten years.” The attacked country would become “preindustrial.” Even if your country is lucky enough not to be targeted, you are not safe. According to the Atomic Archive, nitric oxides produced by nuclear weapons could reduce the ozone layer in the Northern Hemisphere by 30-70%. This could potentially cause dangerous burns and other untold ecological changes. Our world as we know it could change – all because one man in America picked fights and scorned deals.

Having read this article thus far, I wouldn’t blame you if you are feeling fairly panicked about the Trump presidency. Fear not. Whilst the US President’s actions have far-reaching, potentially devastating consequences, they could also have far-reaching, potentially beneficial ones. Because he causes so much outrage across political lines, languages and continents, Donald Trump is actually an asset to the peace movement. He is so controversial and detestable that even the most apolitical among us have been inspired to protest against him.

Donald Trump has essentially become a guide on how not to run a country. In this way, he is useful for increasing awareness of the dangers of political corruption, American exceptionalism and nuclear weapons. He has forced other world leaders to show their true colours. Upon his inauguration, the U.K. Prime Minister was keen to remind Trump of the ‘special relationship’ between their countries, and she became the first foreign leader to visit Trump’s White House. The German Chancellor refused to kowtow to the President, saying: “we Europeans…have to know that we have to fight for our own future.” Tellingly,

whilst Theresa May was caught holding hands with the President, Angela Merkel was shunned when she went to shake his hand. If your country’s leader supports Trump, condemn them for this; if they don’t, show your support.

In the United Kingdom in particular, re-evaluating the ‘special relationship’ is crucial. In light of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is likely that the UK will be dragged into any international conflicts that Trump starts. Interestingly, it appears that opinions on British involvement on the world stage are changing. In 2017, Young Labour delegates voted in favour of a motion that called Trump a “fascist” and proposed that the UK withdraw from NATO. The motion stated that “NATO has been the lynchpin and institutional expression of American imperialism.” Through involvement in organisations like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Britons can show our government how we feel about the “fascist” President. At the time of writing, a Facebook event for a Trump protest in London has 96,000 people interested. Donald Trump is said to have cancelled his proposed February visit because of his fear of a backlash. If we continue to protest and support anti-Trump organisations, what else can we pressure him into?

Many of us exist in a bubble. As our lives are not directly threatened by nuclear weapons every day, some of us develop the view that they are necessary, harmless, or even stand to protect us in some way. Many people who support nuclear weapons believe that they are preparation for a worst-case doomsday scenario. I would argue that, with Donald Trump in charge of the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal, we are living in this worst-case scenario. Ironically, nuclear disarmament would make us all safer.

By Lily Sheehan, Universities Officer, Greater Manchester & District CND

**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***

Fancy writing a blog for YSCND? Send us an email at or a Facebook message at

Global UK

The current case for Nuclear Disarmament

In recent years the case for disarmament has not only gained spotlight with the state of the Korean peninsula but also gained justification as the renewal of Britain’s nuclear ‘deterrent’ is set to cost the treasury a figure close to £205 billion pounds. With a pro-trident PM in power there is currently no realistic possibility of the government reversing renewal, which should be surprising considering the inconsistency trident has displayed in testing, so the only prospect of nuclear disarmament at the moment is how the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn positions the labour party should there be another election. Trident has also been shrouded by myths in recent years and become an effigy for the alt-right of this country that represents the reinvigorated ideology of Great Britain and the former empire leading people to prioritise the idea of trident being a statement of national pride rather than a rational deterrence tool; this is dangerous in the modern world especially considering Britain’s diminishing role on the world stage.

The geo-political climate at the moment is at its most turbulent and precarious it has been especially regarding the current president of the United States and the naive dictator of North Korea locking horns in a – to put it bluntly – childish way. If there was an advert for not having nuclear weapons it most certainly would be Trump’s America! Trump epitomises how America is consumed in its own self-importance, escalating conflict for the last 80 years showing no signs of demilitarisation today – with the Trump administration announcing the production of more lethal weapons of mass destruction as a so called deterrent to Russian aggression. Even Putin can’t justify committing genocide against 100,000s of people on the eastern front like Trump claims he will. Not only does this stir things up again in Eastern Europe but it also sends dangerous signals to North Korea at a time when relations are most unstable, even a nuclear deterrent can’t protect a country if a provocateur is of unhealthy mind; if they have the insanity to murder countless civilians – it is hard to imagine they have the compassion to care about their own citizens facing the same fate. So in a time when things are most tense with international relations, it wouldn’t be mad to suggest our best bet is to just stay out of it!

In Britain, Trident is faced by widespread opposition with irrational support. Our current Prime Minister; Theresa May, has expressed consistent support for our nuclear weapons programme infamously claiming she would kill 100,000s of men, women and children if the opportunity for nuclear retaliation ever came. Following on from the vote in the commons that, expressed a substantial majority in favour of renewing Trident, opposition to Trident has not and will not be quelled. The fact that the UN voted two thirds in favour of banning nuclear weapons is paramount in endorsing opposition to nuclear weapons renewal in England as it is now recognised as being illegal under the new treaty. Regrettably, Britain decided to abstain from the talks and the vote and instead remarked their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), an outdated treaty that Britain and other countries that have committed to still struggle to abide by! All this overlooks the staggering cost that Trident will amass, stating an initial figure of £40 billion but having the potential to rise to over £200 billion. One of the most overlooked arguments against Trident is how the government can justify this when there is a current deficit and funding crisis in our public services especially the NHS that is fundamental to ensuring we live in a fair and tolerant society saving far more lives than a nuclear deterrent ever would.

Now to conclude, it is understandable why there is distrust towards foreign nations when it comes to nuclear weapons and that unilateral disarmament would be a big risk to take when not done multilaterally; but when looked at rationally, Trident is deterring little more than an unjustified ‘threat’ from Russia or the instability of the Kim Jong regime that would surely end should he ever press the red button. Therefore it leads me to believe that support for Trident labels it as an effigy for consolidating the revived sense of patriotism we have seen in this country since the rise (and fall) of UKIP and the definitive Brexit vote. It is perceived as a statement to Britain’s former pride that when looked at in closer detail is driven by those of toxic ulterior motives that seek to divide out communities and create an incongruent, unequal society establishing a firm opinion of mine that renewal of our nuclear weapons should be avoided at all costs.

by Jack Theaker

YSCND Committee  Member


**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***

Fancy writing a blog for YSCND? Send us an email at or a Facebook message at



‘AtomKraft? Nein Danke’ Hinkley Point and the dangers of nuclear energy in 2018

  On December 31st 2017 at 12pm Germany officially shutdown the Gundremmingen B boiling water reactor in Southern Germany, ending its 33 years of operation. This move comes as part of a policy to permanently wean the German power grid away from nuclear power and onto more sustainable and safe sources.

This has not always been the policy of Angela Merkel’s government. In September 2010, the German government agreed to extend the licenses of several nuclear reactors by between 8 to14 years. Maintaining Germany’s reliance on nuclear power for, at the time, about one quarter of its energy. By May 2011, this policy had been totally reversed with Merkel’s government reviving the previous government phase-out plan and declaring that Germany would be nuclear free by 2022.

Why the reversal?  In March 2011, a catastrophic disaster at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan led to the release of large amounts of fallout into the air and the evacuation of 170,000 people from their homes. The contaminated area covered an estimated 8% of the Japanese landmass and a 12 mile exclusion zone was enforced. Much of this zone is still heavily contaminated and tens of thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes. In Germany, public reaction to the disaster caused opinion to shift strongly against nuclear power with large protests across the country. In the city of Stuttgart, 40,000 protesters formed a 28 mile human chain to the nuclear plant outside the city demonstrating their opposition to plans to extend the life-time of the plant. Recognising the dangers of nuclear power and the benefits of renewable energy sources, the German government created an ambitious plan to totally reverse nuclear power and provide 80% of Germany’s power through renewables.

Contrasting this, Theresa May’s government is continuing to press forward with plans to expand the Hinkley Point nuclear site with reactor C. This is a dangerous and financially irresponsible policy. So far, work at Hinkley Point C has proceeded at a glacial pace and its estimated cost has skyrocketed. Currently, Hinkley Point C is expected to cost the British energy consumer £30 billion but this number could rise. With construction not even completely underway this figure can be expected to rise even further. Even the Government’s major partner in the project, EDF energy, have demonstrated reservations. A former finance director at EDF described the project as ‘a house of cards’ and ‘very risky’. The National Audit Office drew similar conclusions calling the project a ‘risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits’. The financial implications of the reactor are clear; it is a dangerous and fruitless project which will cost the British consumer astounding amounts of money for little gain.

The dangers of Hinkley Point are not just fiscal however. A disaster like the one at Fukushima in 2011 could cause a large number of people to lose their homes and an unprecedented environmental disaster. The position of Hinkley Point means that a radioactive plume stemming from an accident at the plant could engulf both Cardiff and Bristol, as well as the major towns and hundreds of rural communities between them. Evacuations would be the tip of the iceberg if an accident like this occurred. Radioactive fallout, like that seen at Fukushima, could make the area uninhabitable for decades and permanently increase the risk of thyroid cancers, leukemia and solid cancers for residents returning to their homes. The ecology of the area would be devastated and crops and livestock would be contaminated. Pro-nuclear arguments have stated that the risk of an accident is low and whilst this is true, Germany, with an impeccable record of industrial safety has realised the dangers of nuclear power and committed to renewables.

2017 was the greenest on record for energy and renewable sources provide more power to the U.K than ever before. This should serve as a reminder that Hinkley Point is not the only option for the Government. Renewable energy such as Solar, Wind and Tidal have become increasingly cheaper since planning for Hinkley Point C began and safety risks are minimal.. It is still estimated that reversing Hinkley Point and investing in renewables would still cost the government less than committing to its construction and create a safer long term power source for the U.K. Britain should follow the German example and say ‘AtomKraft? Nein Danke’ ‘Atomic Energy? No thanks’.

By William Empson, CND Campaign Assistant

**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***

Fancy writing a blog for YSCND? Send us an email at or a Facebook message at


Progress towards Disarmament in 2017

As another politically divisive year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the progress we’ve made towards nuclear disarmament. In a year that saw President Trump threatening to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea at the UN General Assembly, Corbyn’s Labour manifesto accepting the continuation of t

he Trident programme, and Kim Jong-un testing both a successful hydrogen bomb and an ICBM, it can be difficult to see the positives. However, there is much to be hopeful for.

The most striking development, a product of the combined efforts of hundreds of nuclear campaigning institutions, is the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The UN treaty is the first international treaty to explicitly prohibit the development of nuclear weapons. Voted in by nearly two-thirds of all UN member states (122), and signed so far by 53 of them, it offers a major challenge to the global acceptance of nuclear weapons. While it has not yet been recognised by the nine nuclear-armed states, the treaty presents an unambiguous condemnation of the continued existence of nuclear weapons – something that the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty failed to do. The global nuclear ban therefore offers a different kind of progress – normative progress.

The great success of the nuclear ban brought about another accomplishment – the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). As with the treaty itself, ICAN’s achievement might be imagined by some to have little influence on the overall disarmament process. Yet the award, as with the ban, demonstrates a significant transformation of the accepted narrative on nuclear weapons: nuclear disarmament is not a fringe idea but a majority consensus position that cannot be ignored. This was further demonstrated by Pope Francis’ declaration in November that nuclear weapons are ‘senseless, even from a tactical standpoint’ and that ‘their very possession is to be firmly condemned’. Compare this statement to Pope John Paul II’s argument that nuclear deterrence could be judged as ‘morally acceptable’ in the eyes of God, and it is clear that the global narrative is evolving.

Yet the formally established nuclear powers of the world continue to argue that these weapons offer a ‘strategic peace’. The governments of the US, UK, France, Russia, and China claim that through the promise of mutually assured destruction, world war is no longer an option. These states (who also make up the permanent members of the UN Security Council) are not the only states with nuclear weapons, but they are the only states that are both signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and who argue that nuclear weapons bring peace. The price of this ‘strategic peace’ is a total global expenditure of US$12 million per hour, or $105 billion every year [1]. The reality of this nuclear-armed peace is a world not free from hostilities but locked in a perpetual state of war – from the Gulf War in 1991, Somalia in 1992, Bosnia in 1995, Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, to the still-ongoing 2001 War in Afghanistan, the ‘strategic peace’ staggers onwards. Now a nuclear-armed North Korea demonstrates yet again that unless the major powers take meaningful steps towards disarmament, global insecurity will thrive.

Once, the legitimacy of this ‘strategic peace’ and international nuclear orthodoxy appeared unchallengeable. But campaigners, backed by the Nobel Peace Prize committee, the 53 state signatories of the ban treaty, the Pope, the Catholic Church, and millions of anti-nuclear activists around the world now have an opportunity to challenge and delegitimize it. For the first time, the majority of the world is clearly united behind the cause of total nuclear disarmament. A new form of peace is not just imaginable but tangible; a peace based not on millions of civilian lives being held hostage by the threat of atomic evisceration, but on transnational collaboration, UN treaties, trade agreements and global disarmament.

It is often very hard to see the light of progress through the shadow cast by inter-state conflict and the threat of nuclear war. It can often feel nearly impossible to imagine a world in which nuclear weapons no longer exist. But the progress made in 2017 has created cracks in what appeared to be an unbreakable orthodoxy. Our job now is to widen those cracks, and never lose faith in the strength of collective agency to bring about change. It may not happen in 2018, but global nuclear disarmament is in sight.




By Laurie Gerhardt, CND Campaigns Assistant

**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***

Fancy writing a blog for YSCND? Send us an email at or a Facebook message at


With a ‘lefty’ at the helm, why isn’t Labour supporting the peace movement?

Jeremy Corbyn is a ‘lefty.’ Love him or loathe him, it is difficult to argue that the Islington North MP and Leader of the Opposition is a traditional politician. His shock election and the Labour Party’s subsequent shift to the left has led to electoral success and a rejuvenation of the Party. However, it has not led to a total rejuvenation in his party’s policy; Labour continue to support the wasting of £205 billion on Trident replacement. So why isn’t the peace movement, a cause very close to Corbyn’s heart, getting a look-in? How can we ensure that such an important cause receives the recognition it deserves?

With Corbyn, an uneasy – but necessary – tension has arisen in the Labour Party. There was bound to be tensions when a man like Jeremy Corbyn became leader in a shock result. Having joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as a schoolboy in 1966, Corbyn became both Vice-Chair of the CND and Chair of the Stop the War Coalition during his time as a backbencher. Gaining a reputation for his activism, he became Labour’s most rebellious Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2010, defying the party whip a staggering 428 times. Meanwhile, the establishment Labour Party did not share his passion for peace. Former Shadow Cabinet Minister Tristram Hunt called the Stop the War Coalition “a really disreputable organisation,” whilst MP Caroline Flint said that the organisation were “not Labour’s friends.” With New Labour not wanting to rock the boat, the party decided to take the same side as their Conservative opponents and support the destruction of lives through support of the Iraq War and nuclear weapons.

With such a difference in opinion fracturing the party, you would not be blamed for assuming that a massive overhaul would take place after Corbyn’s meteoric rise to power. Bogged down by internal conflicts and lacking support, Corbyn was unable to tackle such a huge problem. In their 2017 General Election manifesto, Labour supported the renewal of the Trident fleet, under the apparent constraints of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Appearing on Question Time in May, it was pretty clear that Jeremy Corbyn did not agree with establishment Labour’s belief in nuclear weapons. He said on the programme that he would never approve of ‘first use’ of Britain’s nuclear arsenal. To some, it seemed like the Leader of the Opposition had blown his chance to take his lifelong anti-war politics to the mainstream.

However, the cause remains alive and kicking. Rather than an issue of public opinion, the question of Labour’s support for the peace movement is one for Labour’s establishment. It is likely that the Labour Party have chosen to support Trident renewal on the basis of its perceived popularity rather than any sort of conviction. This appears ill-founded. In 2016, an ORB poll of UK adults found that 49% of those surveyed did not support the full renewal of Trident. In Scotland, where the fleets are actually located, opposition was at 64%. Being anti-nuclear weapons is hardly an unpopular opinion.

So, how do we change Labour’s peace policies? Simply put, we could just wait. Support for nuclear weapons is lowest amongst young people. A 2014 poll by ComRes showed that just 19% of 18-35 year olds polled believed that Trident should be renewed at equal size and capacity. Hannah Cornford, of WMD Awareness, said of the poll: “it is clear that young potential voters are not being engaged by the government on this issue.” Last month, the Young Labour Conference passed a motion saying that the United Kingdom should leave NATO, an idea that is in direct contradiction with the party line. Young people dislike nuclear weapons and are not afraid to disagree with establishment opinion; this is a recipe for progress in the peace movement in the coming years.

Another, less delayed possibility for progress comes from the Labour Party itself. The Party is currently undergoing a self-imposed Democracy Review. A leaked document, apparently concerning this review, shows that they are keen to strengthen the involvement and participation of members in constituencies. If this is true, Labour should be keen to involve their pro-peace members by allowing them to affect party policy. The party also wants to focus on the recruitment of more members. In order to strengthen support and attract members, the Party must listen to its supporters. The issue of nuclear weapons is pressing and potentially a matter of life and death; unlike these internal divisions in the Labour Party, it cannot be brushed aside.


By Lily Sheehan, Manchester CND volunteer

**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***

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