‘Towards Zero’ Lecture tour reaches Northern Ireland

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James Kearney, UNA-UK Peace and Security Programmes Manager, addressed a meeting of UNA-Northern Ireland in Belfast on 28 January 2013. His talk, ‘New Nuclear Realities’ – part of the Towards Zero nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation programme lecture series – covered a wide range of nuclear issues, including the politics surrounding nuclear disarmament, the developments and debate in recent years in the UK and the current initiatives and programmes undertaken by UNA-UK, including those pertaining to the issues of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe and The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The meeting was well attended and attracted a varied audience that included local NGOs, school and university students, lecturers and the business community, who appreciated the presentation of these complex issues – something that was clearly demonstrated by a lively and productive question and answer session. Here the audience raised further points of debate and discussion, including the implications of retaining Trident should Scotland achieve independence after the referendum in 2014, the apparent enormous expense that a nuclear capability must entail, and the perceived lack of emphasis in the nuclear debate of the far-reaching effects to the environment should a nuclear war break out.

A final question from a pupil of Methodist College Belfast and Model UN enthusiast – Rory Copeland, whose report on Methodist College Belfast/Wallace High School Model United Nations 2013 can be found below – focused on what would be necessary for a country, or alliance of countries, to take the first step and become an example to the world in relinquishing nuclear weapons. Members of the audience were left in no doubt of the vital work undertaken by UNA-UK and UNAs worldwide in pursuing this and other nuclear issues at a political level. For UNA in NI, this branch meeting emphasised the importance of UNA-UK’s on-going engagement with the grass roots of the organisation, both increasing general awareness of this extremely important subject and promoting the Towards Zero programme. James Kearney’s lecture tour of UNA branches and Universities continues through until the summer of 2013.

Report by UNA Northern Ireland

If you would like to learn more about Towards Zero, contact James Kearney, at kearney@una.org.uk or on 020 7766 3446.

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