News in brief

Funding a nuke rebuke

As PN went to press, the Public Interest Case Against Trident (PICAT) project was well on its way to raising £10,000 towards the cost of taking out a judicial review.

PICAT has been trying to start a prosecution of the prime minister and the defence secretary for conspiracy to commit war crimes, through Britain’s nuclear weapons policy. (See PN 2612 – 2613.)

They now want to a judicial review of the attorney general’s refusal to allow this case to go ahead.

As of 12 February, they’d raised £6,312. with 25 days to go:

Spybase nicks pics

In December, anti-secrecy campaigner Alan Turnbull discovered photographs from his ‘Secret Bases’ website had been stolen by an engineering firm and architects working on an expansion of the spybase at USAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.

Contractors Mott MacDonald and HLM Architects put a planning application in to South Northamptonshire council in 2016, showing a new windowless mission building and an antenna field with six new ‘golf ball’ radomes.

They illustrated their proposal with an aerial image of the existing radomes at Croughton, with Turnbull’s protective watermarking, taken ‘without prior permission, payment or even any accreditation!’

Give Yanks thanks

Here’s some nonviolent direct action news from the US from the very brilliant Nuclear Resister.

Protests against US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen led to 15 arrests at the US mission to the UN in New York on 11 December, and seven arrests at a congressperson’s office in Washington DC on 11 January.

On 28 December, seven people were arrested at a Christian anti-war protest at the Pentagon (during a Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance retreat), and four Catholic Workers were arrested at Iowa national guard drone command centre in Des Moines.

On 27 January, five campaigners with Nevada Desert Experience and Western Shoshone Tribe were arrested after crossing the boundary into the Nevada test site.

Mark revives archives

In February, radical British historian Mark Curtis launched a new online project, Declassified, which contains hundreds of declassified documents on British foreign policy.

Some documents are new to the web, the result of Curtis’ research. Other papers are provided via links to the National Security Archive, the Guardian or other websites.

Curtis, author of Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam is appealing for help from volunteer researchers.

7,300 Palestinians

Between 17–20 January, the Israeli army closed all three road entrances to Hizma, a village in the West Bank near Jerusalem, home to over 7,300 people, writes David Polden. They kept its main entrance closed for another eight days. The Israeli army stated that this was a response to stone- throwing from the village toward Israeli settler vehicles travelling past the village.

Restricting the freedom of movement of some 7,000 people constitutes collective punishment, which is prohibited under international law. This illustrates the Israeli military’s routine, arbitrary use of its power in dealing with the Palestinian population.

63 Israeli teens

On 28 December, 63 Israeli teenagers signed an open letter to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring that they will refuse military service because the Israeli army ‘carries out a racist government policy that enforces one legal system for Israelis and another for Palestinian in the same territory’. The 63 say they will not take any part in ‘the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people’.

As the Israeli army does not recognise conscientious objection based on rejection of the occupation, these refusers are likely to receive repeated prison sentences of up to four weeks each.

22 Greenpeacers

On 28 November, 22 Greenpeace activists broke into the French four-reactor nuclear power plant, Cruas-Meysse. Four scaled the walls of a building containing pools used to cool highly-radioactive spent fuel rods, and set off flares.

Greenpeace claimed that this incursion highlighted security shortcomings at the facility, proving that security around spent nuclear fuel pools is particularly lacking and that France’s 58 nuclear reactors are vulnerable to attack.

In October, Greenpeace activists entered Cattenom nuclear power station, near Luxembourg, and set off fireworks near a spent fuel pool.

One convoy

Nukewatch report that the first British nuclear warhead convoy of 2018 took a new route from the nuclear bomb factory in Burghfield in Berkshire, England, to the Coulport nuclear weapons store north of Glasgow, Scotland.

Four warhead carriers left Burghfield on 31 January. After a break at Glencorse Barracks, south of Edinburgh, the convoy departed from its usual route: ‘Unusually it then took the M8 west passing Livingston and Bathgate, and then through the centre of Glasgow before crossing the Erskine Bridge to head up the A82 arriving at Coulport after 10pm’, according to Nukewatch.

The return journey took place on 5–6 February. More info:


For many years, PN has been keeping an eye on the Nepali peace process, which has progressed in fits and starts since the Nepali civil war came to an end in 2006.

In early February, Nepal held elections for its new upper chamber under its new federal constitution. The alliance between the Maoist Centre party and the United Marxist-Leninists (UML) swept the board, taking 40 of the 56 seats. In elections in November and December, the leftist alliance took 174 out of 275 seats in the lower house of representatives.

It remains to be seen whether the two communist parties can really form a unified government.

Meanwhile, after three years of existence, neither the truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) nor the commission of investigation on enforced disappeared persons (CIEDP) has settled a single case of human rights violations from the civil war.

In those three years, the TRC has begun investigating just over 800 of the 60,000 complaints it has received from victims. The CIEDP has started looking into just over 200 out of 3,000 complaints. Both the Maoists and the UML have shown their determination to stop any real accountability for war crimes. They continue to support giving the TRC and CIEDP commissions the power to give amnesties for serious human rights violations, despite a 2014 ruling by the supreme court that this is unconstitutional.

Western Sahara

PN also keeps watch on the struggle for freedom in Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.

Solidarity campaigners has been targeting foreign companies involved in the illegal exploitation of Saharawi resources. In the last few months, several have pulled out.

The giant Swiss/British multinational Glencore finally left on 4 January (it had been exploring for oil). The Canadian firm Nutrien announced on 25 January that it would no longer buy phosphate rock from Western Sahara (it had previously bought over $270m worth of Saharawi phosphate rock from the Moroccan government).

In early February, the US oil company Kosmos Energy pulled out of oil exploration in the waters off Western Sahara – after 14 years. One of the largest investors in Kosmos, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, had disinvested from Kosmos because of its ethical violations in Western Sahara.

Earlier, on 18 December, the German government had clarified that it will not give export credit guarantees for projects in Western Sahara.

Meanwhile the European Union continues to pursue a fisheries deal with Morocco that should be declared invalid because it includes Western Sahara, according to Melchior Wathelet, an advocate general to the European Union court of justice.