Nuclear Weapons

1 April 2014News

Action against weapons of mass destruction


Contrary to popular report (even among some peace activists), Faslane Peace Camp is still here and still opposing weapons of mass destruction, war and militarism. Things have been a little quiet over the winter but now spring is here and we’re ready for action.

Early on 19 March, I was arrested on board HMS Ambush inside Faslane naval base (which houses Britain’s Trident nucler missile submarines) along with fellow peace camper Jamie Watson.

We’d set off a couple of hours…

19 March 2014News

A mass crime reporting at Reading police station

Reading Police Station, 8 February.
Photo: Wendy Lewis

If Cameron thinks the campaign against nuclear weapons is over, he can think again. We set off in our minibus, full to bursting with singers eager to take part in the latest action against Trident: a mass crime reporting at Reading police station, near the sites at Burghfield and Aldermaston where nuclear warheads are developed and tested.

The sight of flooded fields and swollen…

18 March 2014News

On 18 February, US peace activists Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli were each sentenced to five years and two months in prison, followed by three years’ ‘supervised release’. Sister Megan Rice, a nun and the oldest of the three at 84, was sentenced to two years and 11 months (plus three years’ probation) for her part in their action at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the US’s primary storehouse for weapons-grade uranium.

During the July 2012 action ‘Transform Now Plowshares’ action, the…

21 February 2014Review, 2012; 362pp; £21.97

At the heart of this collection of essays is a brilliant and wonderful idea: academics presenting the case against Trident whilst protesting outside Faslane naval base. These al fresco conferences took place in January and June 2007 as part of the year-long Faslane 365 blockade, and resulted in the base being closed down and numerous arrests. Both were clearly successful events, and the road outside Faslane gates must count as one of the most unusual conference venues ever…

21 February 2014Feature

We revisit Howard Clark’s ideas on nonviolent strategy from 1978

Writing in the afterglow of a beautiful day of guerrilla nonviolence at Torness, I’m no longer daunted by the question with which I’ve been shadow-boxing these past few weeks: ‘exactly how do we intend to reverse the nuclear power programme?’

“The anti-nuclear movement already has its equivalents of the charka”

On that site, I saw for myself the achievement of the people who occupied Half Moon Cottage in creating a symbol for us to rally around, and also in…

18 February 2014News

On 10 and 13 January, Reading magistrates court dismissed charges of ‘obstruction of the highway’ against two groups of Trident Ploughshares (TP) activists because of procedural errors by the crown prosecution service (CPS).

On 10 January, Leonna O’Neill, Jamie Watson and Julia Mercer were on trial for their participation in the international Action AWE blockades outside the atomic weapons establishment (AWE) Burghfield on 2 September last year (see PN 2562). Julia Mercer had…

1 November 2013News in Brief

The Transform Now Plowshares support group is calling for letters to help lower prison sentences for Megan Rice (83), Michael Walli (64) and Greg Boertje-Obed (57).

The peace activists are facing 30-year sentences for breaking into a US nuclear bomb-making factory in Oak Ridge, California in July 2012, and ‘transforming’ it with blood, spraypaint and hammers.

The support group asks for letters touching on three points: 

This was an act of nonviolent civil…

1 November 2013News

Activists from Wales and Bristol bring 'Mad Trident Tea-Party' to Aldermaston

Get rid of Trident - Eat it! Photo: Lotte Reimer

Early on 3 October, a small but committed contingent from Wales and Bristol, along with an intrepid lone Glaswegian, blockaded the ministry of defence (MoD) road to the Burghfield atomic weapons establishment (AWE).

A ‘Mad Trident Tea-Party’ was set up and attended by three large red dragons and numerous small ones. With members of Côr Cochion and Côr Gobaith present, the singing rarely stopped for the six hours of the blockade. We…

1 November 2013Comment

Peace News gave wide coverage and support to the campaigning at Greenham Common which aimed to stop the new cruise missiles being deployed there; but it then became apparent that that phase of the campaign was not going to succeed.

The recent leaks about the arrival date of American cruise missiles at Greenham Common were followed last week by a series of transport planes bringing related equipment – though not it seems, initially, the missiles themselves. But even before the first planes arrived, nuclear disarmers were stepping up their opposition.

October 29 saw 1,500 women taking direct action at Greenham Common, where parts of the perimeter fence were cut down. On Monday October 31, the day of the…

1 October 2013Comment

We need a common agenda to tackle the twin threats of climate change and nuclear warfare.

We are of the generation who came of age in the 1980s, terrified that the world might end at any moment through nuclear holocaust. In the decades since then, the people of the world have grown less frightened of a nuclear war.

The risk is still there, as the number of nuclear weapon states increases, and conflicts continue around nuclear tinderboxes, but the fear has declined.

Recent studies suggest that even a ‘small’ nuclear war between India and Pakistan, with each…

1 October 2013News

21 arrested on international day of action

On 2 September, 21 people were arrested as Action AWE and Trident Ploughshares held an international – Argentine, Belgian, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Scottish – blockade of AWE Burghfield in Berkshire. ‘Atomic Weapons Establishment’ Burghfield and AWE Aldermaston nearby are where Britain’s nuclear weapons are produced. Action AWE and Trident Ploughshares…

1 October 2013Comment

Peace News played a key role in the upsurge of activism against nuclear power at the end of the 1970s, both by reporting events and by discussing strategies that could help different sorts of campaigners to work together effectively.

In the months since the Torness demonstration in May and the London anti-Windscale demo some kind of anti-nuclear movement has appeared. Discussion of how nuclear power can be opposed is shifting from isolated actions to the development of campaigns. The Torness Alliance is an attempt (experimental and perhaps inevitably frustrating) at developing mutual co-ordination of the efforts of local autonomous groups.

That development will be very difficult without a growth and…

1 October 2013Feature

Milan Rai explains how nuclear weapons work in the real world

Nuclear weapons have been used since 9 August 1945. They have been used ‘in the precise way that a gun is used when you point it at someone’s head in a direct confrontation, whether or not the trigger is pulled.’

These are the words, over 30 years ago, of analyst Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon insider who leaked the US government’s top secret internal…

1 September 2013Feature

David Mackenzie explores the 'fiendishly complex' connections between Trident and next year's Scottish independence referendum

The connections between the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system and the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014 are both fiendishly complex and absurdly simple

Here are a few of the complications. It is partly a tale of two governments that have their own referendum agendas but that are also highly sensitive to the potential effect on the referendum vote of positions they adopt publicly. The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), conscious of the power of the old principle — ‘…

1 September 2013Letter

Mil Rai is correct to underline nuclear threats  made by major powers to the South. But I  think that Mil should also ask why, when push  comes to shove, as in the Vietnam debacle and humiliation, the US  for instance  found itself  politically unable to use its nuclear arsenal. Are these horrors usable weapons at all?
However, 16 pages of Peace News and not a  mention of Trident replacement.  Please do better next time. Getting rid of Trident and thus kick-starting global abolition…