Monday, 8 February 2010

Press Release

Trident Ploughshares Press Release - Monday 8 February, 2010                            
 
Aldermaston Big Blockade – 15 February, 2010
 
Campaigners to shut down nuclear bomb factory as they call for disarmament of Trident and abolition of nuclear weapons
 
On Monday 15 February, from 7am, hundreds of campaigners from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and other countries will block access to every gate of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston, Berkshire, England.[1] The blockade, initiated by Trident Ploughshares (TP) and supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp(aign) (AWPC)[2] and other groups, aims to halt construction of multi-billion pound facilities for research and development of a new generation of nuclear warheads. [3, 4]
 
Individuals coming to the blockade include Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire (who led the successful international campaign to ban landmines and worked to end violence in Northern Ireland respectively); Jill Evans MEP; the Anglican Bishops of Bristol, Mike Hill, Reading, Stephen Cottrell, and Bath and Wells, Peter Price; and the Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon.
Each of the gates to the nuclear weapons site will be themed: Scotland, Wales, England, internationals (a sizeable contingent will represent mainly European countries, including France and Belgium), cyclists and environmentalists, faith groups, women and students. Choirs, medical professionals and politicians will also be present.
Brian Larkin from TP, travelling from Scotland, said: “This is the biggest blockade of Aldermaston in years and comes at a time when even major political parties are questioning the logic of spending up to £97 billion [5] on useless weapons.  It demonstrates the depth and breadth of determined civil society opposition to Trident and its planned replacement.[6] Although the government now seems to have delayed the next phase of Trident replacement until after the general election, the ongoing construction of facilities at the AWE for the design, development and manufacture of new nuclear warheads is illegal and immoral and will only lead to further proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
 
Angie Zelter, also from TP, travelling from Wales, added: “In May, world governments will meet to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT);[7] but this program of modernisation of UK nuclear weapons violates the treaty and could lead to a disastrous failure of the Review Conference. Over forty years ago, when it signed up to the treaty, the UK made a deal to negotiate multilateral nuclear disarmament in exchange for states without nuclear weapons agreeing not to obtain them.[8] Not only have we failed to keep that promise but now we are preparing to build a new generation of nuclear weapons. If the government wants to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons it should get rid of its own nuclear weapons first. We are calling on the UK to abide by its agreement to achieve nuclear disarmament – that means taking Trident off patrol, halting all work and preparations for any new generation of nuclear weapons and using the AWE only for disarmament and verification.”
 
Sarah Lasenby, also from TP, travelling from Oxford, added: “The time has come for the UK to disarm its nuclear weapons. Instead of building a new generation, the government should go to the upcoming NPT Review Conference in New York and commit to negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide.”[9]
 

Media contacts:  Daniel Viesnik 07506 234 091; Brian Larkin 07768 312 676; Angie Zelter 07835 354 652

 
ENDS


 
Notes to editors:
 
1. For more details about the Aldermaston blockade see:
Images from the blockade will be available on the day via a link on the home page of the Trident Ploughshares website: http://www.tridentploughshares.org
Live updates from the blockade will be available via Twitter:
2. More information about the co-ordinating organisations can be found on their respective websites:
 
Trident Ploughshares: http://www.tridentploughshares.org 
CND: http://www.cnduk.org 
Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp(aign): http://www.aldermaston.net
 
3. Blockades of AWE Aldermaston took place most recently in October 2008 and June 2009.


4. For further information on the Ministry of Defence’s current planning application for an enriched uranium handling and storage facility, Project Pegasus, at AWE Aldermaston, which has drawn around 900 objections and is due to go before West Berkshire planning committee later this month, see the following briefings from the Nuclear Information Service:
http://nuclearinfo.org/view/item/a2038

http://nuclearinfo.org/view/item/a2040
For information on all facilities under development or planned at the AWE, see: http://www.aldermaston.net/awe
6. In an ICM poll for the Guardian published on 13 July 2009, 54% of respondents indicated that they wanted to see Britain abandon its nuclear weapons and not replace its Trident system. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jul/13/icm-poll-nuclear-weapons
7. For background information on the NPT see: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org
8. Article VI of the NPT, ratified by both the UK and the US, stipulates: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2005/npttreaty.html
The next five-yearly Review Conference of the NPT is due to take place 3–28 May 2010 in New York.

9. For further information on the international campaign for the NPT Review Conference to commit to negotiations toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention, see: http://www.icanw.org
(Last edited: 13 February 2010, 00:08)

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