Welsh Action Day at AWE Burghfield

ACTIVISTS from Blackwood, Caerphilly, Newport, Swansea, West Wales and Powys joined the Big Blockade of Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) on Wednesday 15th June, to say no to the renewal of Trident, the UK nuclear weapons system.

Wednesday was the Welsh groups’ day in the collective protest of English, Scottish, Welsh, French, Belgian, German and Finnish anti-nuclear activists, whose blockade has closed the construction gate at the weapons factory since 6th June, day and night, blocking the access road with “lock-ons” (arms locked together with tubing) and preventing traffic from entering or leaving.

“I think it’s important that the Government is left in no doubt that their plans for new nuclear weapons are not welcomed by the majority of the public,” said Jan Jones of Swansea CND. “I’m going to do my bit to stop nuclear weapon production for as long as possible.”

Everywhere in Wales today we see the results of the Government’s austerity programme: homeless people in the doorways of our streets; sick people lined up on trolleys in hospital corridors; elderly people lonely and immobile in their homes; dentists’ NHS waiting lists full; primary schools closing; social workers weighed down with impossibly high caseloads.

All of this is necessary, we are told, because there is no money. Yet the Government can find between £25 billion and £167 billion for renewing Trident. “Obscene amounts are spent on useless nuclear weapons, while support for the most vulnerable in our society is under constant attack by this Government,” said Wendy Lewis, an activist from Caerphilly.

The cost is enormous because it isn’t just about buying replacements. The cost of maintaining and operating them — a nuclear submarine patrolling the seas, every minute, 365 days a year — doesn’t figure in the government’s “£20 billion” estimate.

Nuclear weapons are illegal. Using them would be a war crime and a crime against humanity. For this reason, they can never be used.

Nuclear weapons won’t protect us against the biggest threats to humankind in the 21st century, which the Government’s own National Security Strategy says are terrorism, cyber-attack, climate change and pandemics.

Most countries don’t have nuclear weapons. Only nine do. Germany and Japan don’t. Do they seem like weak, vulnerable countries?

Nuclear weapons make the world more dangerous, not less dangerous. Human beings make mistakes. So far human error has caused 25 near misses, when we have teetered on the brink of nuclear war. More countries getting them means more human error.

“When the UK government argues that nuclear weapons are necessary for our defence, then any other country can use exactly the same argument in favour of them getting nuclear weapons, which will end up with everyone being less secure,” said Brian Jones, CND Cymru Vice Chair. “The only way to be safe from nuclear weapons is by banning them internationally, just as chemical and biological weapons have been banned.”

Trident is dangerous, illegal, expensive and unnecessary. Shortly before his death last year, lifetime Welsh campaigner Ray Davies said: “We have come from our Welsh Valleys to tell the world that we will never give up the struggle to free our beautiful planet from the danger of nuclear weapons. We are blockading here at AWE Burghfield, where Trident’s nuclear warheads are assembled, for our children’s sake and for all our future generations.”