ON the eve of the day that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was due to start at the UN in New York if it had not been postponed again due to Covid, the Leaders of the five nuclear-armed states that are signatories to that treaty have issued a joint statement which they describe as being on "Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races".

The statement references Article 6 of the NPT and contains a reiteration of the statement made by then-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and then-US president Ronald Reagan towards the close of the Cold War, that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought".

However, there are no great surprises in their declaration and no comment is made on the United Nations Treaty on The Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that entered into force a year ago.

Scottish CND issued this statement in response to the Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council (P5):

"We welcome any genuine commitment to stepping back from the possibility of nuclear war, especially as there is now a growing and glaring gap between the words and actions of the nuclear states. The gulf between the words of the UK Government and their actions is illustrated by the upturn in convoys delivering nuclear weapons to Scotland, reflecting the 2021 decision to increase the cap on the stockpile of nuclear weapons, despite the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"Tragically, all of the nuclear states continue to squander billions on new means of delivering nuclear devastation while re-stating their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty - including Article 6 which requires them to pursue negotiations that end with complete nuclear disarmament under strict international control. The repetition of this commitment, referenced in the P5 statement, is more like a mantra than a meaningful or intentional statement and is, in any case, a self-delusional denial of the escalating risks of a continued nuclear arms race.”

Had the NPT Review Conference gone ahead as scheduled, the statement would have been set against the backdrop of discussion at the UN on non-proliferation, rather than being issued a time when the increasing acceptance of the TPNW and absolute prohibition is impacting the global nuclear discourse.

A new report by Dr Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy on the impact of the TPNW on the UK’s nuclear policies is scheduled for the middle of January at a Westminster all-party parliamentary group meeting.

READ MORE: Behind the ‘secret’ rise in nuclear weapons on the Clyde by UK Government

The divestment in nuclear weapons production and the increased awareness of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use, accidental or intentional, of nuclear weapons, may lie behind the P5’s need to be seen as acting responsibly, rather than the sabre rattling and excessive military budgets at a time when there are so many other economic pressures.

This is seen clearly in Scotland, where a majority of parliamentarians are committed to the TPNW and both Parliament and the present Government oppose the UK’s nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

Lynn Jamieson, chair of Scottish CND commented: “The majority of UN member states wish is for nuclear states to join the growing number of countries that hope for universal adherence to the TPNW. We must ask if it will it take an independent Scotland to bring the UK Government to its senses when no UK nuclear weapons will be based on the Clyde estuary and the UK’s nuclear weapons will have nowhere to go”.