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Press release: Government's lies on Trident warhead replacement revealed

AWPC issued this statement following confirmation that a decision to replace Trident warheads has already been taken (see next item for Guardian article).

An article published in today's Guardian [1] has confirmed what Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp (AWPC) have repeatedly stated since 2002: the government has already taken the decision to replace the current warhead system used on Britain's Trident submarines.
According to speaking notes released under the Freedom of Information Act, in June 2007 David Gould, then the chief operating officer at the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, told a future deterrent industry day
event: "The intention is to replace the entire Vanguard class submarine system. Including the warhead and missile."[2]

Although the parliamentary vote on Trident in March 2007 ostensibly covered only the replacement of the platform - the Vanguard class submarine - AWPC have, on the basis of AWE Aldermaston's 2002 Site Development Strategy Plan and
the subsequent massive building programme at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, continuously
asserted that the decision to replace the nuclear warheads had already been taken, possibly as early as 2001. The government however continued to claim that the decision on the warheads would be taken in the next parliament.

"We have been repeatedly drawing attention to the government's lies about what is going on behind the fence at Aldermaston, " AWPC said today, "The fact is that the Labour government - without any democratic scrutiny or public debate - has condemned the UK to another 50 years as a nuclear weapons state."

AWPC have over the past six years monitored, documented and opposed the new developments at Aldermaston, which to date include the construction of the Orion laser (which can test nuclear materials in conditions replicating that of a nuclear explosion); the acquisition of a new supercomputer and the construction of the Gemini office complex to house more than 1500 new staff being recruited to work on the new programme.

Concerns about the secrecy shrouding new developments at Aldermastonwere expressed by the Defence Select Committee in December 2006 following a submission by AWPC [3] which documented not only the building programme, but provided a detailed analysis of contracts that had already been
issued to private companies involved in project management, design and construction of the new facilities.

Recent further confirmation that the decision had already been taken was revealed last month when the Ministry of Defence indicated in response to a parliamentary question that they would be applying in early 2009
for planning permission to build a new uranium enrichment facility at Aldermaston, a decision that industry and disarmament experts had believed would only be taken after the "main gate" decision to go ahead with the warheads. [4]

Notes

[1] See : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/25/nuclear.weaponstechnology
and
http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5jYnTLA2O1_zZeCJRPEMNLGYcqCAA
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2456478/Britains-nuclear-warheads...
[2] For further background information and to view the document, obtained by the coordinator of Scottish CND, see http://www.cnduk.org/index.php/press-releases/trident/secret-plan-to-rep...

[3]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmdfence/986/986we24.htm

[4] Hansard Written answers 26 Jun 2008 : Column 447W—continued
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080626/text...
See also Jane's Defence Weekly, Denise Hammick and Richard Scott, "Debating Deterrence", 12 March 2008.