A recent argument made by nuclear weapons supporters has been that the increase of terrorism means we need nuclear weapons. Personally I believe the opposite is true - an increase in acts of terrorism is precisely why nuclear weapons are adding to insecurity: you cannot use a 'deterrent' against an ideology that does not care who it destroys - including its own followers.
As far as I see it the only 100% effective security measure is every Nuclear Weapon State taking decisive action to rid us from these weapons of mass destruction and tighten the loopholes to make these weapons illegal once and for all.
This is precisely the bold act of leadership taken by the Austrian Prime Minister recently at the latest conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons attended by 150 countries, including the UK. The statement was much needed at this crucial time - the UK government will decide next year whether we would like to spend in the region of £100 billion on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system (estimate to be spent on Trident over the next 30 years if it is renewed).
I, like the majority of other young people in Britain, do not agree with Trident renewal or its rather large price-tag. In a ComRes survey last year just 6% of 18-35 year olds in Britain said they thought the government should prioritise spending on defence over the next 10 years.
I think the government could reinvest this money into national security in a way that would make a tangible and significant difference - tackling problems such as terrorist ideology at its roots, for example. After all, mutually assured destruction does not faze many of the opponents of peace that we face today. We are very far from the Cold War days and the faces of our security threats are changing - so must our response to them.
We must also ensure the public are aware of these threats and the decision that is about to be made on Trident, and they get to have their say in an official debate before any decision is made.
I recently attended a day of action organised by WMD Awareness that aims to raise awareness about nuclear weapons to young adults in Britain. It took place on Saturday 7 March as thousands amassed in London for the climate change march. WMD Awareness were there to engage people in real conversations about whether nuclear weapons will be an issue of interest to them in the upcoming elections. Over 90% of the people we spoke to said that it would, and that they would vote against any party that decided to renew Trident. It was clear to me that this is definitely an issue that UK voters care about.
The majority of people wanted to tell us about the other services they thought the government could spend £100,000,000,000 on instead of Trident: healthcare, the NHS and education came top of the list. One 13 year old said that they didn't understand why this much was being spent on weapons instead of on education to make her peers more aware of the issues that face them today.
The reality is that it's this generation that will have to deal with the UK government's decision on Trident. The government will be letting young people down if they do not have a transparent public debate that listens to young people's views before the Main Gate in 2016. Perhaps if they listen they may just follow the 150 Non-Nuclear Weapon States that are now calling for action to comprehensively ban nuclear weapons once and for all.
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