Tuesday, 17 March 2009

I need a hol-i-day, a nuclear hol-i-day ...

Love is all around at the moment. Nuclear love, that is, as Russia announces a "comprehensive military rearmament" from 2011 - partly in response to perceived shortcomings during the recent war with Georgia and also in reaction to NATO's expansion and America's continued plans for its missile defence shield (no word on that yet from the Obama administration?) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev specifically named his country's strategic nuclear forces as being in need of the $140bn (£94.5bn) boost.

Meanwhile, China has voiced concern about the rising tensions in Korea over the forthcoming North's rocket test launch - with Japan even suggesting it could deploy a vessel equipped with missile interceptor technology to the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to destroy the rocket. Worries continue that North Korea is slowly but surely building an arsenal capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

And British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told Iran it should "let the world help it get civil nuclear power" and announced that an expansion of nuclear power was needed globally to meet carbon reduction targets. This less than a month after Iran and Russia started tests of the Middle Eastern country's first nuclear power plant.

Further to coverage of Gordon Brown's warning to Iran, the BBC (where would I be without them?) helpfully did a nice little feature on the issue of Iran's civilian nuclear programme, but one which makes it clear that the UK is involved in this nuclear rearmament race, even if it is by stealth.

Elsewhere in his speech ... the UK leader also proposed to further reduce Britain's own nuclear warheads in the run-up to the next five-yearly proliferation review conference next year. These warheads now number fewer than 160.

The weakness in his argument, other governments might say, is that at the same time Britain is also starting on a major programme of renewing its nuclear weapons. It is planning to build four new submarines, will take part in an American programme to extend the life of the Trident D5 missile and is examining an upgrade for its own warheads.

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