Sir Hugh Beach, the former Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces, visited Lancaster last month to address students at the launch of the Lancaster chapter of Global Zero.
Lancaster’s chapter is one of 30 student groups worldwide who are advocating multilateral nuclear disarmament. The organisation, which is inspired by commitments from Presidents Obama & Medvedev, have recently outlined a 20 year plan for phased disarmament and have the support of over 200 political, civilian and military leaders; these include Dr Hans Blix, Mikhail Gorbachev, Queen Noor of Jordan, Lord Douglas Hurd and Rt. Hon Margaret Beckett MP.
The event, titled ‘A World Without Nuclear Weapons: Mission Impossible?’ was also addressed by Paul Ingram, Chief Executive of the British American Security Information Council. He told the audience, “There’s still roughly 5,000 nuclear warheads on alert status, there are 20,000 still deployed and it’s still the case that an accident could trigger a release. However, the way states think about these weapons, as integral to their security, means we are facing an uphill struggle.”
Sir Hugh Beach primarily spoke about planned reductions in NATO Tactical Nuclear Weapons based in Europe and concluded by saying, “It will save money, reduce the risk of weapons falling into wrong hands, lessen the salience of nuclear threats in war planning and help to ‘reset’ strategic relations with Russia. It is well worth attempting.” After the speeches, both Ingram & Beech were privy to a heated question and answer session on the issues raised.
Lancaster Global Zero Society is currently recruiting for new members and hope to hold more events in the coming months. Andrew Gibson, campus-coordinator for Global Zero, told SCAN, “Through Global Zero I have been in contact with politicians from all sides of the political spectrum. There’s more support for this idea than I originally thought. Nevertheless, a public campaign is needed to keep up pressure and make sure the government acts as it speaks. We need more students lobbying, debating and pushing, in whatever way they can, for global disarmament.” The societies spokesperson Rob Brown commented that “Nuclear weapons are a threat that human beings shouldn’t have to deal with. The next few years are crucial to our overall goal. The Nuclear Proliferation Treaty is being reviewed and Britain will be voting again on Trident before 2014. Now is the time to make noise about this issue.”
In February, Global Zero student leaders from the UK met with negotiators, military leaders and politicians in Paris to discuss the 20 year plan and prepare the public campaign. A film by Lawrence Bender about nuclear issues, ‘Countdown to Zero’, was screened and is now touring the US. To learn more about the global campaign, check out the website- www.globalzero.org.