Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Aldermaston Big Blockade - Press Release

Campaigners to disrupt illegal work on weapons of mass destruction in Big Blockade of Britain’s nuclear bomb factory

Trident Ploughshares [1] has called a major non-violent blockade of Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston, near Reading on Monday 27 October 2008 , from 6:30am. The event, which is supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) [2], Block the Builders [3] and the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp [4], is aimed at disrupting work on existing Trident warheads and their successors.

Hundreds of peace campaigners from around the country and beyond are expected to converge on Aldermaston in what is likely to be the biggest day of direct action against Trident nuclear weapons since the Faslane Big Blockade on 1 October 2007 . On that occasion, 171 arrests were made as campaigners celebrated the end of a year-long peaceful blockade of the naval base in Scotland , which resulted in 1150 arrests of concerned citizens from all walks of life resisting nuclear weapons. [5]

On Easter Monday 2008, an estimated 5,000 people surrounded AWE Aldermaston as CND marked the 50th anniversary of the historic first London to Aldermaston march. It was the biggest demonstration seen at the site for two decades. [6] Trident Ploughshares are keen to build on these recent successes.

In March 2007, Westminster voted in principle to retain nuclear weapons and to build new submarines from which to launch them. To date, there has been no vote in parliament on the future of warheads. However, Ministry of Defence (MoD) documents obtained by CND in July 2008 confirmed that contrary to repeated ministerial denials, the government has already made the decision to replace the warheads. [7].

The MoD has already committed billions of pounds to a massive ongoing construction and recruitment programme at AWE, where Britain ’s nuclear warheads are researched, developed and maintained [8]. AWE first outlined its expansion proposals, which it claimed would be on the scale of Heathrow Terminal 5, in its 2002 Site Development Strategy Plan [9]. Building work commenced - on the Orion laser - in 2005 and continues to this day.

A spokesperson for Trident Ploughshares says, “We are unsurprised but nevertheless disappointed at the level of dishonesty and disingenuousness of ministers. The expansion of AWE, continued deployment of Trident and plans to replace it contradict and undermine the government’s stated support for global abolition of nuclear weapons. This is hypocritical, destabilising and breaches disarmament obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Britain signed 40 years ago. There can never be a lawful or moral use for Trident, so the whole system must be taken out of service immediately. We would rather see AWE used for warhead decommissioning as part of a global Nuclear Weapons Convention, in line with government proposals.


Notes to Editor:

1. Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a non-violent, open, peaceful and fully accountable manner.

Press enquiries:

aldermaston_blockade_media_team [at]

tel: 07506 234 091

2. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe ’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK . CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere. Contact Ben Soffa, CND Press Officer: 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859

3. Block the Builders

4. Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp

5. Faslane 365, a year-long blockade of Faslane naval base, Scotland

6. CND The Bomb Stops Here event, Easter Monday 2008

7. CND press release

8. Atomic Weapons Establishment official site

9. AWE site development strategy plan (2005 update)

10. Other relevant links:

The UK ’s secret warhead programme was reported by Ian Bruce in ‘The Herald’, 4 September, 2007

However, the existence of such a programme was denied in a written answer to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne MP in response to a question by Dai Davies MP (12 September, 2007)

See also: ‘So, minister, are we developing new nuclear weapons or not? -

Scientists say they are designing a new warhead design, despite government denials’

by Marie Woolf , ‘The Independent’, 29 October, 2006

Some links providing background to the ongoing developments and recruitment drive at AWE:,,4434696-102285,00.html,,1690630,00.html,,329744446-110247,00.html

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