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Tony Blair's legacy: Another 50 years of nuclear weapons?

Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp today condemned the
government's White Paper for its commitment to
retaining a UK nuclear weapons system, and for its
failure to come clean about measures the
government has already taken at AWE Aldermaston to
build facilities to test, design and build a new
generation of nuclear warheads.

 

"Tony Blair's vague offer to reduce the number of
submarines and warheads is just a meaningless
gesture towards the government's commitments under
international law. Whether there are three or four
submarines is irrelevant when the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty demands that nuclear
weapons states move in good faith towards nuclear
disarmament" said AWPC. "Even one Trident
warhead has many times the killing power of the
bomb dropped on Hiroshima".

 

While today's White Paper [1] today outlined plans
to replace the current Vanguard submarines which
carry the current Trident missile system, it
failed to clarify the government's plans for the
design, capacity and killing power of the warheads
proposed to be used in the new fleet.

 

In Section 7 of the White Paper, the government
states "Decisions on whether and how we may need
to refurbish or replace this warhead are likely
to be necessary in the next parliament".

 

Yet this decision has already been made - in the
commitment to a new delivery platform has already
been made; in the declared intention of producing
new missiles will be produced - "in collaboration
with the US"; warheads too, will also be produced
in conjunction with the US, under was the Trident
system, under the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement.

 

By the next parliament, which could end as late as
2012, the Orion laser will have been commissioned,
and - according to documents published by AWE [2]
many of the new facilities planned at AWE, (and
which experts agree would only be necessary for
the production of a new warhead [3]),will have
been built.

 

AWPC are calling on the government to come clean
on the fact that at AWE Aldermaston, the Ministry
of Defence has already stated work on facilities
to test, design and build new warheads, in advance
of any parliamentary decision in this - or the
next parliament.

 

Although the "debate" is seen as a done deal AWPC,
along with many other organizations and
politicians, is calling for an open and
transparent public debate on the whether nuclear
weapons provide us with the security we really
need - and for a halt for all building work at AWE
Aldermaston until such time that the British
people are allowed to tell the government if they
really want a new generation of nuclear weapons.

 

Background

Work on the construction of the new Orion laser
has been progressing throughout 2006; AWE have
recently purchased the world's most advanced
supercomputer; submitted plans for a £60million
office building to house some of the 1,2000 new
staff it is currently recruiting; entered into
contracts with hundreds of private companies; and
will shortly submit plans for the construction of
a new hydrodynamics facility. According to AWE ml
- who manage the site for the government - the new
developments are expected to be on the scale of
Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

 

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For background on work at AWE Aldermaston, ring
07887 802879