Women take on nuke factory

IssueOctober 2007
Feature by Sian Jones

By the time parliament voted in March 2007 to replace the Trident nuclear submarine fleet, AWE was busy building new facilities to test, design and build new warheads -- while the government continued to tell us that a decision on the new warheads would not be needed “until the next parliament”.

Britain has designed, tested and built nuclear warheads at Aldermaston for 50 years, including the warheads for the current Trident missiles. In 2002 AWE published their Site Development Strategy Plan which outlined their intention to build new facilities, and construction work started in 2004 (after AWPC had delayed them by lodging legal and other objections to plans for a new laser).

A done deal?

Even before parliament voted in March, new offices and IT buildings had been completed; a new super-computer (capable of millions of calculations per second) had been installed, and work was in progress on the £183 million Orion laser facility, able to test materials in conditions replicating a nuclear explosion (pictured). Offices to house more than 1500 new staff--including at least 750 recently recruited specialist engineers and nuclear scientists--are now under construction, and plans for another 17 buildings are being rolled out.

The lying liars, etc...

These developments, as AWE boast, are “on the scale of Terminal 5 at Heathrow” and will equip Aldermaston to build a new generation of nuclear weapons in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They may eliminate the need for underground testing, undermining the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The government continue to claim they are not designing new nuclear weapons at Aldermaston, but from the other side of the fence, we know they have already started.