We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
That is why one needs international processes such as the UN treaty that I have described, which is supported by 122 countries, in order to make that happen. Although I am personally in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament, that is not the case that I am making this afternoon. I am moving one step towards people such as hon. Members like himself—or right hon. Members like himself, perhaps, I cannot really remember—who I completely understand are never going to be persuaded by unilateral nuclear disarmament, but who I hope might be willing to engage in a serious argument about multilateral nuclear disarmament.
So far there has been very little recognition in this debate of the fact that nuclear weapons systems are themselves fallible. According to a shocking report by Chatham House, there have been 13 incidents since 1962 in which nuclear weapons have very nearly been launched. One of the most dramatic, in 1983, was when Stanislav Petrov, the duty officer in a Soviet nuclear war early-warning centre, found his system warning of the launch of five US missiles. After a few moments of agonising, he judged it, thankfully and correctly, to be a false alarm. If he had reached a different conclusion and passed the information up the control chain, that could have triggered the firing of nuclear missiles from Russia.