Fife becomes fifth authority to back nuclear weapons treaty

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Fife Council has agreed to support the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

At the full council meeting on Thursday, it became just the fifth local authority in the UK to support the measure to remove nuclear weapons.

Cllr David Barratt proposed the motion, saying: “In supporting the appeal, we show the council is deeply concerned about the grave threat that nuclear weapons pose to communities throughout the world.

“We firmly believe that our residents have the right to live in a world free from threat. Any use of nuclear weapons – whether deliberate or accidental – would have catastrophic, far reaching consequences.”

At the meeting, Cllr Barratt added: “The UK government claims that possession of these weapons affords us protection from foreign powers through mutually assured destruction. It is not legitimate to say that nuclear weapons have deterred or prevented war, or that they will do so in the future.

“The US nuclear arsenal did not prevent the September 11th attacks, just as the nuclear arsenal has not prevented attacks on the UK or France.

“Unless we eliminate them, there is a chance they will be used again.”

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It was supported by Cllr Karen Marjoram, who said: “A war using around 1000 nuclear weapons – which is around 5% of the global stockpile – would render this planet uninhabitable. We would not recover from it in any of our lifetimes.”

Cllr Tony Miklinski proposed an amendment, saying: “I have been intimately involved with nuclear weapon policy in my career and I understand have seen it first hand and have touched the weapons and know exactly what they can do, and they must not be allowed to be used – on that we are completely agreed.

“The motion before us is an example of weak and wilful thinking on behalf of my nationalist colleagues. The first duty of government is the protection of its citizens. It’s a dangerous world out there across a wide spectrum of threats.

“In the last 74 years, since the dropping of nuclear bombs, no nuclear weapons have been used – for a very simple, if unpalatable reason. So long as both sides of a conflict have nuclear weapons, then no state dares use them.

“In a world where dis-invention remains impossible, it’s a hard, cold reality.”

It was seconded by Cllr Dave Dempsy, who said: “I’m old enough to remember when World War Three was a widely assumed thing.

“You have to ask yourself why it hasn’t happened.  We will never know the answer but I would content that it’s down to something that is nuclear.”

Cllr Tim Brett proposed a second amendment which would see the UK keep a minimum number of nuclear deterrents.

Labour’s Gary Guichan asked to add to the SNP motion that a defence diversification agency be set up, with a focus on transferring specialist skills from those working in the nuclear sector so that jobs, engineering and scientific skills are not lost. This was agreed and the amendment was conjoined with the motion.

Councillors agreed to vote for the treaty 40 votes for the motion, 13 for the first amendment and six for the second.

Emma O'Neill , Local Democracy Reporting Service