By Vatican News staff writer
Church leaders in the United Kingdom have expressed their opposition to an announcement by the government to increase its nuclear weapons capacity by more than forty percent.
The government’s decision was included in the policy paper titled “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy” which was issued on Tuesday. The planned move proposes increasing the number of Trident nuclear warheads the UK can stockpile from 180 to 260.
In a joint statement, the church leaders described the government’s announcement as a retrograde step which “takes us in a worrying and wholly wrong direction.”
Church leaders of seven denominations, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales appended their signatures to the Tuesday statement. The others include the members of the Church of England, Church in Wales, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church in Britain, Quakers in Britain and the United Reformed Church.
Progress through dialogue, not nuclear weapons
In the statement, the Church leaders highlight that this announcement puts the gains of nuclear non-proliferation in jeopardy, as over the last 50 years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has restricted the increase of nuclear weapons worldwide, as well as the number of new nuclear-armed states.
They further note that warheads that the UK’s Trident submarines already carry in total have “an explosive yield equivalent to hundreds of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima.”
In light of this, the church leaders said that it is “immoral” that the government is committing resources which could be spent on the common good to stockpiling even more nuclear warheads. They insist that progress on reducing the threat from nuclear weapons will come “through dialogue, diplomacy and principled action.”
Joint efforts towards Nuclear weapons prohibition
Hailing the entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as “an encouraging development,” the church leaders reaffirmed their commitment to “join with millions across the world who are working towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals.”
They added that “living up to our responsibilities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty would be a step towards realizing that vision” and encouraged ‘Global Britain’ to strive for peaceful, cooperative international relationships, as well as joint endeavors on global poverty, climate change and other challenges.