Statement from Church leaders on the UK Government announcement on warhead numbers

16/03/2021

Church leaders across 7 denominations have today made the following statement following the publication of the Government’s integrated review of foreign and defence policies.

“The Government’s decision in the integrated review of defence, security and foreign policy to increase the number of Trident nuclear warheads the UK can stockpile by more than 40 percent is a retrograde step that will not make any of us safer. 

“Our Trident submarines already carry warheads that in total have an explosive yield equivalent to hundreds of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima. It is immoral that the UK government is committing resources, which could be spent on the common good of our society, to stockpiling even more.

“Over the last 50 years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has restricted the increase in the number of nuclear weapons worldwide as well as the number of new nuclear-armed states.  This announcement puts those gains in jeopardy and weakens collective action on non-proliferation. Progress on reducing the threat from nuclear weapons will come through dialogue, diplomacy and principled action. The Government’s announcement today will complicate rather than aid this process.

“The entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition in of Nuclear Weapons is an encouraging development. As people of faith, we join with millions across the world who are working towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals. Living up to our responsibilities under the Non Proliferation Treaty would be a step towards realising that vision. We believe that ‘Global Britain’ should strive for peaceful and cooperative international relationships, and joint endeavour on climate change, global poverty and other challenges. This announcement takes us in a worrying and wholly wrong direction.”

Signatories are:

Most Revd and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York
Most Revd John Davies, Archbishop of Wales
Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church
Bob Fyffe, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, Chair, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Carolyn Lawrence, Vice-President of the Methodist Church
Revd David Mayne, Moderator of the Baptist Union Council
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Revd Dr Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids
Revd Richard Teal, President of the Methodist Church

The denominations are: The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Church of England, the Methodist Church in Britain, Quakers in Britain, the United Reformed Church, the Church in Wales. The statement is also signed on behalf of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.