Around 25 citizen weapons inspectors, recruited by the Yeovil, Sherborne and Area Stop the War Coalition, converged on RNAS Yeovilton, the Fleet Air Arm's principal base, on 1 July.
They were looking for evidence that depleted uranium shells and bullets or cluster shells were stored there. They also wanted to find out whether the navy is still carrying out training exercises using freefall nuclear bombs, and if so, why they would carry out these exercises unless there are plans to recommission freefall nuclear bombs.
The citizen inspectors and technicians suspect that these weapons are stored in Yeovilton because the navy now holds all the UK's weapons of mass destruction, and because Yeovilton plays a key part in the operation of aircraft carriers, which carry attack planes and helicopters. Helicopters have been used extensively in Iraq as attack weapons, such as in the bombardments of Fallujah and Sadr City. British forces have used depleted uranium artillery shells in Iraq and cluster shells in Basra specifically. Yeovilton sends aircraft and crew to Iraq.
Despite writing to the base Commodore requesting access and assistance, the 25 inspectors were not admitted. Instead they remained at the gates and discussed issues of local and global concern.
”British foreign policy now is going back to a pre-Suez policy of neo-colonial imperialism, backing the US around the world. This establishes the conditions for the tactical use of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The UK and US governments assume they have the right to sail around the world and intervene anywhere. This is not only morally wrong, it compromises our country's own defence. `Join the Navy and see the British coastline' should be the only recruiting slogan used,” said Inspector Clare.
”The war on Iraq has seen a significant change in the use of helicopters, which have been used extensively as attack weapons. They almost always have guns fitted, making them more of an offensive weapon than tanks due to their greater manoeuvrability. Here in Yeovilton and Yeovil we are at the centre of the UK's manufacture and use of helicopters as offensive weapons,” added Inspector Chris.
The inspection concluded with a peace picnic outside the main gate.