British anti-nuclear protesters close main gate of Devonport Dockyard

_76492794_76492793At six o’clock in the morning on July 25, a group of local people from Plymouth, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and beyond blocked the main Camels Head entrance into Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, England in order to stop the refitting of the Vanguard nuclear submarines which carry and launch the Trident nuclear weapon missiles.

People used their own bodies and banners, as well as a car, to block the entrance into the base.

Theo Simon and Nikki Clark, who chained themselves to the car, were arrested after police cut the locks. Both were charged with willful obstruction of the highway and later released on bail. They have a court appearance scheduled on August 13.

Theo Simon, an anti-nuclear campaigner from Somerset and former Devonport resident said,

“When we see things like with Israel in Gaza, we want our government to stand up for international law and humanitarian law. But it’s harder for Britain to condemn other peoples’ war crimes if we are prepared to commit one ourselves.

That is exactly what is happening here in Devon – they are working on a weapon of mass destruction, which can never be used.

It is a terrible waste of resources, a waste of people’s skills, and a real danger to the future of our children in Devon and across the planet.”

Mother of 2 Nikki Clarke from Bridgwater said,

“I’m here today because I believe the work that goes on here in refitting Britain’s Nuclear weapons system is immoral and dangerous.

Trident could never be used legally as its use would constitute a war-crime. The government is trying to spend in excess of a £100 Billion pounds of taxpayer money renewing a global terror weapon which can never be used. Why should we live with Austerity just so that our government can throw its weight around the world?

The money earmarked for Trident would be better spent on public services such as education and healthcare, all of which are suffering due to the Condem coalition spending cuts.”

Trident Ploughshares is a national network of concerned people working to abolish Weapons of Mass Destruction, starting with the one on their doorstep: the Trident submarine based system. Trident Ploughshares’ valuable work has been recognised with a Right Livelihood Award, and a Nobel Prize nomination for founder member Angie Zelter.

There are 4 Trident submarines – one at sea at all times, each with up to 40 warheads of 100-120 kilotons. When fired, each missile can hit a different target. Each nuclear warhead on Trident submarine is approximately 8-10 times more powerful than the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Trident is a Weapon of Mass Destruction, and is illegal under international law. (1)

The decision whether to proceed with a Trident replacement will be made in 2016, after the 2015 general election. This ‘Main Gate’ decision will cost the British taxpayer approximately £100 billion (2), at a time when public services are being cut to the bone. There is now strong evidence that going ahead with replacing Trident would result in jobs being lost, due to the resultant lack of government investment in other economic and infrastructure development. (2)

At the Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth the submarines are refitted. The population of Plymouth is in danger of exposure to nuclear leaks. Details of the dangers are most apparent in the internal reports on accidents. In 2012 there were 50 hazardous incidents at Devonport Dockyard. Some were serious incidents. Alarmingly, one of these incidents involved loss of power to the cooling system for nuclear reactors for 90 minutes, an event with potential nuclear implications, which arose partly from an inability to learn from previous incidents and to implement the recommendations from previous event reports. (3)

(1) Trident and International Law, 2011, Rebecca Johnson & Angie Zelter (Ed)
(2) People Not Trident: The Economic Case Against Trident Replacement, March 2014, CND
(3) Annual safety reports from HM Naval Base Devonport, March 2013, Ministry of Defense