New Forest East



Daily Telegraph – 24 September 1999

Not for the first time, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament claim credit for the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty which "scrapped cruise, Pershing and SS20 missiles" (letter, 23 September). In reality, it delayed this vital deal by up to six years, as the following chronology shows:

  • In 1977, highly accurate Soviet SS20 missiles began to be deployed against Western Europe. There was no significant reaction from the dormant CND.
  • In December 1979, in response to Western European concerns about the SS20s, NATO announced its "twin-track" decision – to deploy cruise and Pershing II missiles, but not until 1983 in case an arms deal could be reached in the meantime.
  • In early 1980, CND demanded that the NATO missiles should not be deployed. This demand was unconditional; it did not depend on the Soviets removing the new SS20s.
  • At the end of 1981, President Reagan made his famous "zero option" offer, promising to cancel the Western deployments if the Russians would remove the SS20s. Despite having paid lip-service to the slogan "No cruise, no Pershing, no SS20s", CND attacked the "zero option", stating that it "cannot be remotely acceptable to the Soviet Union". Its denunciation was typically reported in the Communist Morning Star (19 November 1981) under the banner headline "CND EXPOSES REAGAN'S NUCLEAR FRAUD".
  • Cruise missiles were deployed on schedule in late 1983 despite the CND campaign. CND membership and activity levels peaked in 1983–84 and went into steady decline from 1985 onwards.
  • Only after the failure of CND and comparable groups in other NATO countries to stop the Western deployments unilaterally, did the Soviet Union agree, at the end of 1987, to scrap its SS20s in return for the removal of cruise and Pershing II. By that time, the CND was demonstrably a busted flush.

It is thus indisputable that the 1987 INF deal (which was based on Reagan's "zero option" offer rejected out of hand by CND in 1981) was achieved only after the failure of the unilateralists to undermine NATO's bargaining position.

Throughout their 1980–84 campaign, CND leaders consistently blamed the West rather than the Soviet Union for the nuclear arms race. They elected numerous Communist Party members and pro-Soviet apologists to key positions in their organisation and they maintained friendly contact with such Soviet front bodies as the state-run East German Peace Council, Soviet Peace Committee and World Peace Council.

In November 1983, Bruce Kent, CND General Secretary, described Britain's Communists and the Morning Star as "partners" of the CND (report, 14 November 1983). It is not surprising, given the record of the CND, that the Stasi regarded it with similar affection.

Cadnam, Hampshire