The planned ‘Project Hydrus’ is the latest development in an ongoing £1 billion-a-year modernisation programme at the AWE, which includes the Orion laser, an enriched uranium handling facility and three new supercomputers. The campaigners say this will enable the UK to develop a new generation of nuclear warheads, circumventing its obligations under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and undermining its disarmament commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They are also concerned about the health and safety and environmental implications of the new developments, particularly in light of the lack of public disclosure on these matters.
The protest follows on from the weekend’s activities, during which Trident Ploughshares activists joined an alliance of anti-nuclear groups, including the Nuclear Information Service, and local Greenpeace groups and Green Party activists, who took to the streets to highlight their opposition to the planning application, obtaining 250 letters objecting to the proposed development.
Chris Bluemel, 30, a teacher from Southampton, said: “When the vast majority of the world’s countries have no need for nukes, it makes no sense at a time of economic crisis for the Government to commit at least £70bn of our hard-earned taxes on replacing nuclear weapons.”
Ann Kobayashi, 70, a retired social worker from Wickford, Essex, said: “We don’t need new nuclear weapons, but we do need the skills and knowledge of the AWE workforce to address the significant challenges of decommissioning existing nuclear weapons and nuclear waste disposal, which will affect future generations.”
Daniel Viesnik, 35, from London, said: “I am blockading today because I refuse to stand idly by as the Government presses ahead with its £3 million-a-day programme to modernise the nuclear warhead-making facilities here at Aldermaston without so much as a public consultation or parliamentary debate. I firmly believe that Trident and its planned replacement are illegal, immoral and a shameless waste of resources.”
Steve Burak, 51, from London, said: “ ‘Deterrent’ cannot be anything like an appropriate word for the possession of a nuclear weapon: by analogy, if I were walking around with a knife to protect myself, not only must I be living in fear but also at the ready to use the weapon I am carrying. The only real deterrent is not to carry a weapon. It makes no difference whether it’s a hoodie with a knife or a so-called great nation-state.”
1. Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system in a nonviolent, open, peaceful, safe and fully accountable manner. http://www.tridentploughshares.org
2. More information about 'Project Hydrus' can be found on the Nuclear Information Service website: http://nuclearinfo.org/view/item/a2087
3. Mainstream media online reports of the blockade:
4. Report of the Catholic Worker action: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/09/458142.html