By David Lidington MP, Shadow Foreign Minister.
I am in Washington DC for meetings with the US Administration and congressional leaders about nuclear proliferation and the review of US nuclear doctrine initiated by President Obama.
I'm the Conservative member of a small cross-party delegation that includes Des Browne for Labour and Lord Hannay for the cross-benchers. The nuclear issue will present a major and immediate challenge to whoever forms the next British government. Our General Election is likely to take place at the same time as the opening of a critically important review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that begins in May 2010.
The risks of nuclear proliferation are already great and continue to grow. Knowledge of nuclear technology is no longer confined to a handful of developed countries. It is global. Fears of climate change and of high oil and gas prices are driving more countries to develop civil nuclear power, adding to the demand for and the stocks of material that could be used for weapons. And it’s not just North Korea or Iran that we have to fear. The worst nightmare is of terrorist groups being able to get their hands on the material and the know-how to make a crude but devastating nuclear device.