Page last updated at 22:54 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Foreign secretary urges more nuclear weapons cuts

David Miliband
David Miliband said the deal created an opportunity for the world

An agreement between the US and Russia for large cuts in nuclear weapons must lead to further reductions, Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said.

The treaty reduces the number of warheads allowed on each side by about a third, from from 2,200 to 1,550.

Mr Miliband said the UK was committed to a world without nuclear weapons and "stands ready" to take part in future multilateral disarmament talks.

Campaigners CND urged world leaders to "build on this momentum".

'Total elimination'

Mr Miliband said the agreement created an opportunity for the international community at the 2010 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations headquarters in May, and beyond.

He said: "That means continued efforts by all states possessing nuclear weapons to work towards their total elimination.

"It means concerted action from the international community to tackle countries like North Korea and Iran which seek to develop nuclear weapons in breach of their treaty commitments.

"And it means the safe expansion of nuclear power."

CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) called on the British government to put its Trident nuclear deterrent up for negotiation as an encouragement for France and China to follow suit.

Chairwoman Kate Hudson said: "World leaders must now build on this momentum to secure further rounds of cuts, bringing the other nuclear weapon states into the process.

"Britain has its role to play too. Gordon Brown has said that 'as soon as it becomes useful for our arsenal to be included in a broader negotiation, Britain stands ready to participate and to act'. Now is that time.

"Were Britain to put Trident on the negotiating table at the NPT Review Conference this could be a real game-changer."

Multilateral disarmament

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed the deal after months of negotiations.

The leaders will sign the pact, which replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, in Prague on 8 April. The two countries will have seven years to carry out the reductions.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told BBC Radio 4's Any Questions programme that a Conservative government would set out to achieve the reduction of nuclear arsenals through multilateral disarmament.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Vince Cable said Trident was "vastly expensive" and "a relic of the Cold War" and should not be replaced.

Mr Miliband hailed the agreement as a "significant development" on the programme.

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