"Beyond the Pale" but over Wales

IssueOctober 2009
News by Jill Gough

In an interview with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Lord Bingham compared drones with cluster bombs and landmines.

Yet here in Wales the taxpayer is supporting research into the use of drones for military purposes. An “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV) consultation has been carried out by the Welsh Assembly government (WAG) in preparation for setting up a testing zone above 500 square miles of west Wales. Although the emphasis is laid on future civilian uses of UAVs and benefits to the Welsh economy, most UAV research is military and aims to create the next generation of automated surveillance and attack aircraft.

The proposed fly zone links Parc Aberporth and Sennybridge military training area on Mynydd Epynt 35 miles away. Parc Aberporth is run by QinetiQ – formerly the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. 80% of QinetiQ’s global sales are military. The fly zone will allow military UAV drone flights at any time, day or night, to test spying and attack systems.

A civilian technology?

US Predator UAVs are used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Often controlled and piloted remotely from a base in Nevada, Predators have killed thousands of civilians with laser-guided bombs and missiles.

Of the 26 speakers at UAV Europe 2009, a conference held in July in Cardiff, 25 were either serving military personnel or representatives of arms manufacturers. A presentation was also given by the Israeli Defence Forces. Israel used UAVs in its attacks on Palestinians in Gaza in 2008/9. The Israeli Hermes 450 military UAV was demonstrated at Aberporth in 2002.

There is an alternative

So far £9m of WAG money – our money – has been spent developing Aberporth. WAG promised this would create 230 jobs, but only 18 have materialised and just 10 are local. Jeremy Clulow of Bro Emlyn for Peace and Justice (BEPJ) is speaking out against the militarisation of the west Wales economy.

He calls for WAG investment in high-tech civilian technologies such as sustainable energy generation and manufacturing, which would bring many more long-term jobs for local people. As it is, millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is simply being used to subsidise an already filthy rich arms industry.

Topics: Anti-militarism
See more of: Wales