Many of my constituents cannot understand why our strategic nuclear weapon is being left out of the strategic defence and security review, because the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the greatest threats to our existence. That voice has not been heard this afternoon. I hope that hon. Members will bear with me, because it needs to be heard.
At the heart of the 1968 non-proliferation treaty was a commitment to the goal of disarmament by recognised nuclear weapons states; it was the cornerstone of the pledge to the nuclear have-nots in order to stop them seeking to acquire their own weapons. Dissatisfaction among states without nuclear weapons at the lack of progress in achieving the aims of article VI is widespread. Let me remind the House that at the sixth non-proliferation treaty review conference in 2000 we signed up to
"an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States parties are committed".
In renewing Trident, we break that pledge and remove our moral credibility. How can we begin to persuade nations such as Iran to step back from the nuclear cliff edge unless we are at least prepared to step back from the precipice ourselves? I am not advocating a unilateral approach, but if this obsolete, expensive and unthinkable weapon has any value at all, surely it is as the means to bring others to the negotiating table. I am rather tired of being told, "It cannot be done" and that to advocate nuclear disarmament is to be incapable of understanding the complexity of the issue. Nor do I accept the argument that these weapons cannot be un-invented; we cannot un-invent biological weapons, but nobody is suggesting that we take that route to mutually assured destruction.
My concern is that as time distances us from the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the horrific consequences of nuclear war become clouded and remote, and that we lose our sense of outrage. In the event of such an outrage-even with a dirty bomb-would we seriously consider nuclear retaliation? Against whom would we retaliate? I am not alone in believing that among the greatest threats facing us is uncontrolled nuclear proliferation and the risk of these weapons then falling into the hands of those who would not hesitate to use them. I have received a great deal of correspondence, as I am sure many hon. Members have, from constituents opposed to the renewal of Trident.
I would ask the Secretary of State to address those real and present dangers, as well as the unknown future threats, by delaying Trident in order to persuade others to join us at the negotiating table.
I would rather have an effective Army, Navy and - I have an interest here - Air Force than spend at least £20 billion of their resources on a weapon that we can never use and that no longer acts as a deterrent. I call on the Secretary of State to delay his decision on Trident, not because I am an idealist, but because I am a realist.
I shall conclude by reminding the House that Alfred Nobel, of peace prize fame, was famously convinced that his invention of dynamite would make war too destructive to contemplate. We would be wrong to make the same mistake with Trident.
Does she not understand that the ability to kill millions of civilians in a nuclear holocaust is a core Tory belief? I can't see this going down well back at Tory HQ, but for now, let's all welcome her sound good sense. Stirring words indeed.