The spectre of nuclear war looms over the UK, a Labour MP has warned, with UK and Europe 'probably the first to be hit’.
Shadow defence minister Fabian Hamilton spoke days after US president Donald Trump threatened to pull out of a treaty eliminating some nuclear missiles, including Pershing missiles, due to what he said was Russian non-compliance.
The move makes nuclear war ‘more tangible and real’ than at any time since the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed in 1987, Mr Hamilton told the Commons in an urgent question.
The Labour MP for Leeds North East said Donald Trump's ‘dangerous’ threat would ‘unilaterally withdraw’ the USA from a global system of trust the country had been at the forefront of ‘painstakingly’ building, leaving European allies exposed.
‘In 1987 it was Europe at the epicentre of the Cold War and the arms race between America and Russia,’ he said.
‘Withdrawal from the INF brings back the spectre of Pershing missiles stationed in Europe and here in the UK - something I remember vividly from the 1980s.
‘If that nuclear conflict was to happen between the two major nuclear powers the UK and our EU allies would probably be the first to be hit.’
Foreign Office Minister Mark Field confirmed there was concern over Russian aggression.
He said: ‘It is a great worry there does seem to be an erosion of the international rules-based order, something we have relied upon since the Second World War.
‘It's something that I think all of us recognise needs to adapt and evolve to the world in which we're living in, but we need to engage with as many partners as possible to ensure that comes to pass.
‘We have longstanding concerns about Russia's development of a range of new capabilities that actually stand ready to undermine our strategic stability.’
But Mr Field said the USA was a 'responsible nuclear power’ with a policy of reducing the number of nuclear weapons and highlighted the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) signed by Russia and the US in 2011.
He said: ‘We're very pleased to see both sides met limits by the deadline earlier this year and we welcome the continued implementation of that treaty, which has an important impact on the broader proliferation of nuclear and other weaponry.
‘The New Start treaty contributes to international stability and allies expressed strong support for its continued implementation and for early and active dialogue on ways in which we can improve that strategic stability.’
He added Mr Trump planned to meet Vladimir Putin on a visit to France on Remembrance Sunday next month.