LONDON, November 07 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst — The United States and the United Kingdom are setting a "dreadful example" to the rest of the world, undermining international nonproliferation efforts by renewing their Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA), Peter Burt, Director of the Nuclear Information Service told RIA Novosti Friday.
"The UK and the USA are setting a dreadful example to the rest of the world by renewing the Mutual Defence Agreement, and are seriously undermining the credibility of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons," Burt said, adding that if Iran and North Korea signed a similar agreement for the transfer of nuclear weapons technology, "the UK and the USA would be branding them pariah nations and screaming for the toughest of international sanctions to be imposed."
Amendments to the MDA, first signed in 1958, were debated in the House of Commons Thursday but only three hours were set aside to scrutinize the details that will allow for collaboration in the procurement of submarine nuclear reactor components and, for the first time, the involvement of US contractors in the British nuclear reactor program.
"The government just doesn't want MPs asking awkward questions and putting a spotlight on just how much the UK's nuclear weapons program depends on the USA," Burt told RIA Novosti.
It is 20 years since MPs last debated the MDA, despite the Treaty demanding a 10-yearly review to be conducted with scrutiny from both the British Parliament and the US Congress.
Burt said renewal of the controversial Agreement highlighted the "double standards" of the US and UK governments and demonstrated neither were seriously committed to their international obligations.
"Renewal of the Mutual Defence Agreement shows the worst kind of double standards and sends out a clear message that neither nation is serious about meeting its legal obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty," Burt said.
Asked by RIA Novosti whether current East and West tensions over Ukraine were being exploited by Western leaders to proliferate the next generation of nuclear weapons, Burt said, "Tension over the current situation in Ukraine, and other tensions between the US, UK, and Russia have been damaging to the arms control process and have undermined the trust that is necessary if we are to reach the goal of a world without nuclear weapons."
"It's no surprise that the supporters of nuclear weapons are using these tensions to try to justify a case for the UK to replace Trident," Burt told RIA Novosti.
The Agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States for Cooperation in the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence Purposes 1958, also known as the Mutual Defence Agreement, allows the two countries to exchange nuclear materials, technology and information. The document is often criticized as contradicting to the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1968.