Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Morning Star front page

Hundreds blockade WMD base

(Monday 27 October 2008)
DEFIANT: Protesters barring the way into Aldermaston on Monday. pic: CND

DEFIANT: Protesters barring the way into Aldermaston on Monday. pic: CND

HUNDREDS of peace protesters blockaded one of Britain's secretive WMD sites on Monday to expose the billions being wasted on nuclear bombs while the country plummets into recession.

Demonstrators descended on the Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory in Berkshire under cover of darkness just before dawn, to blockade the gates before security forces surrounding the base could react.

Peace campaigners from Norway to Switzerland joined Trident Ploughshares and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament activists to link themselves together with chains and concrete tubes before police tried to drag them away.

CND chairwoman Kate Hudson explained that demonstrators had come to "highlight the existence of Aldermaston's Atomic Weapons Establishment and the work which goes on there.

"The fact that our government is planning to spend billions of pounds on a replacement to Trident, prioritising nuclear bombs over health care and job creation at a time of economic crisis, needs to be exposed and condemned," she stressed.

Aldermaston is where Trident submarine-based nuclear missiles are designed and built.

The government has pledged to spend £76 billion - handing over much of it to private weapons firms - to upgrade the weapons of mass destruction during the next few years.

Protester Dan Cole said that the blockade was intended to highlight that private companies "are making billions in profit at the taxpayer's expense through military spending.

"It is a sad reflection on our society that people need to take this action in order to have their voices heard," he said, as police arrested at least 33 of the protesters.

Trident Ploughshares spokesman Dan Viesnik added: "This is the biggest direct action that Aldermaston has seen for a decade and highlights the strength of feeling from the public against Trident and the government's plans to upgrade the missiles.

"These weapons and the massive multibillion-pound expansion of this nuclear arms factory are unnecessary expenses in the current financial climate and contradict the government's stated commitment to disarmament," the Trident Ploughshares spokesman said.

"We demand that the new developments are ceased and the whole Trident system taken out of service without delay."

Mr Viesnik urged the government to "make Aldermaston safe so it will be fit for use as an international centre of expertise on warhead decommissioning and verification as part of a global nuclear weapons convention."

But Mr Viesnik warned: "Unless the government listens, they can expect more of the same direct action."

Yesterday's blockade follows a huge CND demonstration on Easter Monday, when thousands of protesters surrounded the weapons factory to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1958 peace march from London to Aldermaston.

Ms Hudson said that campaigners would continue to press the government to keep its commitment to global nuclear disarmament.

"Britain's security should be based on peace and justice, not war and nukes," the CND chairwoman insisted.

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