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Cablegate: Launch of Uk Top Level Group of Parliamentarians

VZCZCXRO3864
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHLO #2449/01 3021804
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291804Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3846
INFO RUCNDSC/DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002449

NOFORN
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2019
TAGS: KNNP PARM PGOV PREL MARR MOPS UK
SUBJECT: LAUNCH OF UK TOP LEVEL GROUP OF PARLIAMENTARIANS
MULTILATERAL NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT AND NONPROLIFERATION REF: LONDON 2222

Classified By: Political Counselor Robin Quinville for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C/NF) Summary. Fifteen senior UK parliamentarians launched in London October 29 the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation. The group represents a cross party effort to promote British leadership of multilateral disarmament. One of the Group's top goals, as stated in its press release, is to "provide an authoritative European voice to back up the position of U.S. President Barack Obama." Among its core aims is "ensuring that politicians in the U.S. ...are in no doubt of their allies' positions on extended deterrence, tactical nuclear weapons, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty." Labour MP and former Defence Secretary Des Browne underscored in a meeting with Poloff that the Group's members would welcome opportunities to engage with key senators and congressmen on issues related to multilateral nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Browne affirmed during the launch that the Prime Minister had said he would be prepared to reduce the UK's independent Trident nuclear deterrent -- but only in the context of multilateral discussions. (Ref) The Group's multilateral, incremental approach to disarmament represents a broad, cross party consensus of some of Britain's most influential parliamentarians in the areas of foreign and defense policy. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Fifteen senior UK parliamentarians, composed of most of the senior Ministers of foreign affairs and defense over the last two decades, launched in London October 29 the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation. Labour MP and former Defence Secretary Des Browne chaired the launch as the group's "convenor." In his opening remarks to MPs, HMG officials, academics, NGOs, diplomats and journalists, Browne cited President Obama's "consistent commitment" to multilateral nuclear disarmament. Browne and other members of the group affirmed that the group represents a cross party effort to promote British leadership of multilateral disarmament. According to the Top Level Group's press release, its "members share the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and have come together at this critical time in international diplomacy to help achieve that end." The press release also notes that one of the group's goals is "ensuring that politicians in the U.S. ...are in no doubt of their allies' positions on extended deterrence, tactical nuclear weapons, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty." In the Group's view, success of the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference is a prerequisite for "for the multilateral nuclear disarmament agenda to be credible and achievable." (Note: The Group's website is www.toplevelgroup.org.)

Disarmament "Has to Be Multilateral" ------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Several of the Group's members underscored that nuclear disarmament should be a multilateral process. Malcolm Rifkind, Conservative MP and former Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, stated that "disarmament has to be multilateral." However, he continued, "even if you have doubts about getting to zero in our lifetime, the effort is worthwhile." Labour Peer Lord Robertson, former NATO Secretary General and former Secretary of State for Defence, underscored that the Group is "talking about multilateral disarmament." He stressed that 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons are held by the U.S. and Russia and that a new START treaty is crucial. Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Williams of Crosby highlighted the "promising outlook" of U.S.-Russia START negotiations, but noted "serious concerns" regarding proliferation in other areas, including the Middle East, India and Pakistan. Williams noted that HMG's contributions to international verification efforts are "widely respected." Williams affirmed that the establishment of the cross party Group represented a change in global conditions and attitudes. "You would not have gotten this (Group) together ten years ago," she said. Labour MP and former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and other Group members stressed the importance of increased public dialogue on non-proliferation and disarmament. Beckett asserted that public dialogue needs to "answer the question of how a world without nuclear weapons can be achieved. That's what the public will ask." LONDON 00002449 002 OF 002

What About Trident? -------------------

4. (SBU/NF) Responding to a question from a journalist about the steps that HMG could take in the NPT Review Conference context, Browne noted that the Prime Minister had said he would be prepared to reduce the UK's independent Trident nuclear deterrent -- but only in the context of multilateral discussions. (Ref) Some Group members expressed concern that the UK elections debate on defense issues would focus to a large extent on the role of the Trident deterrent. (Note: Britain's next general election must occur by June 3, 2010, with sometime in May the likely date, according to many analysts. End Note.) Following the launch, a Cabinet Office officer who handles nonproliferation issues predicted to Poloff that the role of Trident would be a prominent theme in the election campaign.

Browne's Perspective --------------------

5. (C/NF) In an October 27 meeting with Poloff, Des Browne stressed the Group's "core belief" that nuclear disarmament should be both incremental and multilateral. He said that the Group seeks to launch a public and policy maker debate, to "refresh and revive" the discussion and "to make it accessible to people." In regard to Trident, Browne said that the key question for UK policy makers is "how can we maintain a minimum defense from the system we have presently?" The Group also seeks to work closely with European partners, since "we won't get France to buy-in (to multilateral nuclear disarmament) without a European context" and France might be "wary of UK leadership."

6. (C/NF) Browne underscored to Poloff the willingness of the Group's members to engage with key senators and congressmen on issues related to multilateral nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. "We can bring high-level visitors to the U.S. and we can contribute to your debate -- as invited." He affirmed that all the Group's members, regardless of party affiliation, strongly support President Obama's vision of a nuclear free world. President Obama "has used the phraseology for a world that most people want to live in," a world without nuclear weapons, and the Group would like to help achieve that goal, he said.

Comment -------

7. (C) Baroness Williams is correct in asserting that the Group's creation reflects a shift in thinking about multilateral nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation -- and that a cross party group with such a broad consensus could not have been established a decade ago. The Group's pragmatic, multilateral, incremental approach to disarmament cuts across partisan lines and represents, in Browne's words, "almost the whole of the foreign and defense ministerial cohort of the last 20 years." The Group recognizes that U.S. global leadership is crucial; one of its top goals, as stated in its press release, is to "provide an authoritative European voice to back up the position of U.S. President Barack Obama." The prominence of the Group's members is an important first step. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
SUSMAN

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