In the dark: where is this government going with nuclear weapons?

Atomic bomb mound at the Hiroshima Peace Park Photo by calflier001, Wikimedia Commons

For many years now, I have had the habit of recalling Hiroshima on 6 August.

Ironically, for people of faith this is the day when we recall the feast of Transfiguration, the occasion when Jesus on the mountain was revealed as divine in the presence of a couple of his friends. Over time this event would be understood to be the bedrock of the Christian faith. Christianity has been a major influence on world affairs ever since.

The irony of this date, the 6 August, is significant on two counts. Firstly, the revelation of God our loving creator being with us. Secondly, in my lifetime, we witnessed the awesome destruction of the first nuclear weapon strike on Hiroshima. It was the ‘high watermark’ for human destructive power, annihilating 350,000 people ( including directly attributable deaths up to 1950) with one weapon.

On the one hand, this awesomely terrible event has inspired an international arms race between the nations during the Cold War, driven by our fear of one another. On the other, we have an international peace movement pleading for nuclear disarmament, driven by the desire to live in peace as companions on planet earth and seeking common well-being for all its peoples and environment.

Now the fear of nuclear conflict has returned with the Ukrainian war and, with this fear, now comes the UK government’s dark concealment of what it is doing, for what reasons and at what cost.

There are restrictions on public information on the subject. Darkness prevails.

We hear that the UK has not only foresworn its undertaking to never be the first to use nuclear weapons, but also that there will be a 40 per cent increase in our nuclear armoury. We have 250 nuclear weapons in store. We also have four Trident submarines; each can export 80 Hiroshima explosions when called upon, with US permission. These are being replaced – expensively. The Lakenheath air base is now preparing to receive and store American nuclear weapons again. There are discussions in defence circles about tactical nuclear weapons. These are artillery shells with massive destructive power and may be used in battlefield situations.

There was a time when the issues of nuclear weapons and global policy were front page news and widely discussed. We could witness CND and others raising awareness and pressing for peace and disarmament. Happily, much of the world is against nuclear weapons, hence the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed by 191 nations and promoted by the United Nations. Now it seems these massive issues and the attendant decisions are being made in a back room, behind closed doors, and avoiding any debate in parliament or with the country at large.

I find such darkness very worrying.

The policy of restricting public information on these matters is to draw the curtains on democracy and to live in darkness and fear. Will somebody help in opening these curtains so that we know what is really going on and why?