Tuesday, 11 November 2008

British Government's AWE-ful lies continue (updated 11/11)


Yesterday in Parliament:

"[Defence Secretary John] Hutton denied the atomic weapons establishment in Aldermaston was being used for the development of new nuclear weapons. But he said it was "vitally necessary" for Britain to maintain the "minimum nuclear deterrent"."

This latest ministerial denial is at best exceedingly disingenuous and at worst an outright lie. Public documents such as AWE's own Site Development Strategy Plan reveal that at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and Burghfield, massive multi-billion pound developments - on the scale of Heathrow Terminal 5, according to AWE itself - have recently been constructed, are under development and are in the pipeline. These include a uranium enrichment plant planned for 2009, the state-of-the-art Orion laser still under construction, hydronamics and materials science laboratories, the installation of a new supercomputer and the massive Gemini complex to house well over a thousand new staff that include a number of warhead designers. Are we to believe that this massive expenditure of taxpayer's money is for the purpose of making strawberry ice cream?

In a separate written parliamentary reply, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies revealed that capital expenditure at AWE increased from Pnds 171 million (Dlrs 350 m) in 2005-06, to Pnds 302 m in 2006-07 and to Pnds 500 m in 2007-08. (Source: IRNA)

Also noteworthy is the fact that John Hutton is the Labour MP for Barrow & Furness in Cumbria, where Britain's Trident-armed Vanguard-class nuclear submarines were built and their planned replacements are likely to be built (by corrupt arms giant BAE Systems), as well as the Astute-class hunter-killer submarines that escort them on patrol. Thus one could argue that the Secretary of State has a vested interest in the renewal or replacement of the Trident system.

See also:
Britain plans to spend £3bn on new nuclear warheads - The Guardian - 25 July 2008
Secret plan to replace nuclear warheads - Parliament misled - CND press release
Revealed: UK develops secret nuclear warhead - The Times
Britain in top-secret work on new atomic warhead - The Herald
So, minister, are we developing new nuclear weapons or not? - The Independent
Aldermaston recruits scientists 'to work on nuclear warheads' - The Independent
UK might seek new nuclear warheads - NTI
No new warhead yet, British official say - NTI
UK denies developing new nuclear warheads - IRNA
AWE Site Development Strategy Update 2005 - official public information leaflet

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