Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Proliferation Press News Round Up: Is Gordon Strong-Arming Another Term? Also Notes British RRW Research and Gordon’s Nuclear Push Against Iran

Posted by K.E. White on September 4, 2007

There are trade-offs in every form of government. While American voters may complain about overkill, British voters may just suffer from just the opposite. The current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, refuses to debate with his chief rival and may have a “snap poll” (i.e. call a quick election, since polls indicate a Labor bounce).

From the Associated Press, via the International Herald Tribune:

Britain will not get live televised debates between party leaders battling to win the next election, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday — but it may still have a snap poll.

Brown — once an advocate of U.S.-style TV tussles — rejected calls to spar on air with opposition Conservative Party chief David Cameron, but declined to kill off rumors he is planning a surprise election.

His governing Labour Party has had a spate of poll leads over its rivals in recent weeks, sparking speculation Brown will call a national election to capitalize on his popularity. But Brown refused to set out his plans at a Downing Street news conference.

“I’m getting on with the business of governing,” he said. “There is a time and a place to discuss elections. This is not the time.”

Brown does not need to call an election before mid-2010, but opposition parties are on alert for a possible poll later this year or early next year.

Meanwhile Brown in making some nuclear-charged diplomatic moves:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reiterated Tuesday that London will support a new UN resolution against Iran if Tehran does not curb its nuclear programme.

Speaking two days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran had achieved a key target in its atomic drive, Brown said there was evidence that international pressure was working.

“It is still my belief that the process we have started…which could of course lead to a third UN resolution…is the right process,” he told his monthly press conference in London.

British scientists are also working on a Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. From the Hindu News Service:

London, Sept. 4 (PTI): British scientists are secretly working on the design of a revamped nuclear warhead at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire, a short drive from here, a leading daily reported today.

“The new device, designated the High Surety Warhead, is the British version of the Reliable Replacement Warhead programme which started more than two years ago at the US military’s California and New Mexico nuclear laboratories,” The Herald quoted sources as saying.

America’s RRW program has brought non-proliferation concerns. This CDI article rehashes the worries of Sam Nunn, former Senator and leading nonproliferation advocate. Boiled down, he worries that refurbishing America’s nuclear warheads is 1) not necessary, 2) could encourage other nuclear powers to upgrade their own stockpiles and 3) embolden nuclear rogue-states:

For example, at a House Energy and Water Appropriations hearing on March 29, 2007, former senator and long-time chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam Nunn, summarized the situation this way: “On the RRW itself, if Congress gives a green light to this program in our current world environment, I believe that this will be misunderstood by our allies, exploited by our adversaries, complicate our work to prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons … and make resolution of the Iran and North Korea challenges all the more difficult.”

 

In short, Nunn and other witnesses have questioned how the RRW might impact nuclear non-proliferation efforts worldwide.

 

As Nunn elaborated, “I will leave it to others who have full access to classified material to discuss whether there is an urgent and imperative case for an RRW program at this time, but I can only say that I have not seen it. I can see, however, that we will pay a very high price in terms of our overall national security if Congress gives the approval to go forward with this program.”

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