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Articles from the Peace News log: Nuclear Weapons

Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here

Thirty years on, the anti-nuclear war drama Threads has lost none of its power to shock. Its message of making connections has inspired many, including one of its producers, Richard Levitt.

Ruth and Jimmy kiss in their car on the Moors. A fighter jet roars ominously overhead. Potential violence erupts into the everyday. Some of the images in Threads - a mushroom cloud rising over Sheffield, a middle-aged woman urinating in fear - are etched forever into my mind’s eye. Watching the film again, the same cold fear washes through my guts at the thought that such destruction is still within the reach of several world leaders. Threads is chilling because of its salty social realism, thorough grounding in a wide range of contemporary research, and its unblinking exposure of the disasters nuclear war brings.

The story unfolds against the backdrop of everyday life. Nuclear states rattle, then unsheathe their sabres over border conflicts. Conventional munitions give way to small nuclear devices, like dominoes knocking against one another. Sheffield becomes a microcosm for the whole of Britain, the rest of the world. Panic looting and mass hysteria follow the first mushroom cloud, before the city takes a direct hit. Jimmy, searching for Ruth, disappears in a blinding white flashpoint. Milk bottles on a doorstep melt like water. Buildings are smashed and burning. A husband dabs at the ravaged face of his wife. Infrastructure has been obliterated.

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International fast to be held between Hiroshima and Nagasaki days (6th-9th August) in Burghfield, Paris, and Büchel.

Every year an International fast is held between Hiroshima and Nagasaki days (6th-9th August) in Burghfield, Paris, and Büchel, the last Nato base in Germany at which nuclear weapons are stationed. PN has covered the fast in both Paris and Burghfield with several articles in the past (see PN September 2012, June 2013 and September 2013).

This year over 120 participants are expected at the three sites. A small group of French and British activists will be fasting at Burghfield, and holding vigils and peaceful demonstrations at the same time. On the last day of the fast, 9th August (Nagasaki day), the participants will join in in the “Wool Against Weapons” initiative involving the rolling out of a seven mile long pink anti-nuclear scarf between AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield.

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Report and images from Trident Protest at Rolls Royce AGM.

Trident KillsRolls-Royce directors were confronted with the harrowing testimony of a Hiroshima survivor, Setsuko Thurlow, at their AGM on 1 May. Although the quote was lengthy, the chair was too disorientated to interrupt, and the board responded with nervous laughter.

Rolls-Royce provides power systems for Britain's Trident nuclear-powered, nuclear-missile-carrying submarine system. In June 2012, Rolls-Royce was awarded a £1bn contract to produce new reactor cores for the submarine that is intended to replace Trident.

At the Rolls-Royce AGM, Sheffield peace activists asked about the impact of a nuclear strike on shareholders, alternative uses for Rolls-Royce technology such as green energy, and whether taxpayers would have to pay for the lost investment if the Trident nuclear submarine system is not replaced. At the end of the AGM, activists held up banners saying: ‘No Trident’ and ‘Trident Kills’.

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Report back from Natalia Grana’s recent trip to the Faslane Peace Camp

ImageEver since Peace News Summer camp 2012 I had been hankering after getting up to visit Faslane Peace camp, in fact to be totally honest I had wanted to visit and support the peace camp since I heard about it many years previously, and had driven past it during the Faslane365 year of actions when we did an action.

Anyway, with the backing of Manchester and Warrington Area Quaker Peace group I finally went and what follows are my notes and observations:

Day 1: I got to the camp after a long train ride from England to Scotland. I swore that I smelled the freshness of the air through the train windows as we crossed the border. I was met at Helensburgh station by a member of the camp who has now sadly left. When we arrived at camp I was struck by the lovely welcoming gate and the little rockeries that framed the paths in between the caravans, and the Hiroshima tree was decorated and looking healthy. I was given a guided tour, and shown the new addition of the washing machine, which campers jokingly told me not to mention as then they might seem too posh to outsiders!

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Reflections on a Merseyside documentary film screening commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Having recently rejoined Merseyside CND, and believing that membership of an organisation necessarily entails participation in its activities, I decided to attend this year’s Hiroshima commemoration in Liverpool, part of which was a film screening at our local social centre. The documentary had originally been shown on BBC4 and concerned the attack on Hiroshima itself, particularly the logistics of delivering the bomb to its target, an aspect of that frightful episode with which I was unfamiliar, despite a longstanding interest in all things nuclear and anti-nuclear.

Several points have remained with me since seeing the film. The first is that, even on the morning of August 6th, 1945, the actual target for the ‘new weapon’ had not been finally decided. Hiroshima, a nearby port and Nagasaki were identified as possible sites, with the weather over each place on the actual day dictating where the bomb would be dropped. This meant that three other US planes would fly to Japan with the bomb carrier, Enola Gay, each to assess the weather conditions over a possible target and radio the information back to the mission commander, who would take the final decision. By this method, Hiroshima was chosen, and the fate of its people decided. Yet August 6th was not the first time that American bombers had appeared over the city. In the weeks prior to the attack, the US air force had been in the habit of overflying Hiroshima without actually dropping bombs. The effect of this had been to accustom the population to the sight of warplanes passing overhead without then taking cover in air raid shelters. The evident and cruel cynicism of this tactic was not lost on those watching the film.

The human aspect of that horrific day was dramatised by the film telling the stories of several individual inhabitants of the doomed city and of personal possessions they had with them at the moment of impact: a watch, a lunch box and its carbonised contents and a child’s tricycle (all recovered and now preserved in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum). One of those who featured was a photographer with a city newspaper, who ventured out into the streets after the explosion and who captured, as far as we know, the only five images from inside Hiroshima that day. The pictures, as one might imagine, could have come from hell: shattered people cowering in shattered streets, bathed in a light which could not be created in any studio.

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Patrick Nicholson reviews the new play at the Tricycle on nuclear weapons.

ImageThe Bomb: a partial history, in two parts. Directed by Nicholas Kent. Tricycle Theatre, London, 9th February – 1st April 2012. www.tricycle.co.uk

Reviewed by Patrick Nicholson

The Tricycle Theatre, “Britain’s leading political playhouse” according to the Times, is running a season of events examining nuclear weapons and the nuclear debate. A centrepiece of this season is an ambitious two-part, five hour sequence of ten new short plays exploring nuclear issues, the performances punctuated and complemented by verbatim readings, archive footage and images.

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PN invited activists from around the movement to record what they were doing when Peace News turned 75.  Our birthday was on 6 June 2011.

The week of 6 June 2011

It’s mostly been a week of paper. Those who try and marginalise us as only interested in “action” have no idea just how much paper NVDA (nonviolent direct action) can generate!

I start the week helping Brian with preparing his international law defence for his court case for blockading the Trident refit area of Devonport in November last year. So it’s copying, collating, stapling and labelling new information found on the internet, while out of the cupboard come piles of documents used in past cases. And with them the memories of many days in court supporting people attempting to use the very strange process we have for judging what is right from wrong to explain that if murder is considered wrong then threatening mass murder must surely be very wrong. It’s amazing how many bits of paper that takes.

While Brian is off in Plymouth, I haul out more boxes of paper. The revived Faslane Peace Camp are having a week-end gathering to celebrate their  29th birthday and I have promised to bring some old photos etc as some of them weren’t even born when the camp started!

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Joanna Bazley examines the Cameron-Sarkozy treaty

The ‘Teutates’ agreement was signed by David Cameron and President Sarkozy in November and presented as an exercise in military economy. We were told that we and the French have similar needs in the ‘stewardship’ of our nuclear arsenals, and that sharing research facilities will save expensive duplication. What was not stressed was that this treaty commits both nations to undertake a 50-year programme of cooperation on nuclear weapons technology at a new hydrodynamics research facility known as EPURE at Valduc in France, where conditions for underground nuclear testing can be simulated and the terms of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty neatly bypassed.

Teutates or Toutatis was a Celtic god of war, and someone at the FCO or MoD with a classical education (or perhaps a good acquaintance with Asterix the Gaul?) has displayed a cynical sense of humour in the choice of name. It is really asking too much to expect us to believe in the stewardship story.

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