Report of Proceedings
Sheriff Court, Greenock
Sheriff M. Gimblett, and a Jury
H.M. ADVOCATE v.
ANGELA CHRISTINA ZELTER,
BODIL ULLA RODER
and ELLEN MOXLEY
Friday, 15th October 1999
Mr. D. Webster, Procurator-Fiscal, for the Crown;
Mrs. A. Zelter, First Accused, appeared on her own behalf;
Mr. J. Mayer, Advocate, for the accused Roder;
Mr. J. McLaughlin, Advocate, for the accused Moxley.
PROFESSOR PAUL FERDINAND ROGERS, sworn, examined by Mr McLaughlin: are you professor of peace studies at Bradford University? — I am.
How long have you held that position? — I have held that position since 1992. I had been a member of the staff in that department for 20 years.
Can you tell the ladies and gentlemen or of the jury your qualifications? — I have a BSc and PH.D from Imperial College, London University. I was there also as a lecturer in the 1960s.
The Department of peace Studies, again could you explain to the jury the curriculum in that department? — The Department of peace Studies is the largest University Centre for peace Studies in the world. We train students at degree level through to the level of PH.D and we have about 300 students from 25 countries. Some of them serve in the military and some are ex-military and they go on to a very wide range of posts when they leave us.
Are you the author of any books or papers in relation to your discipline? — I have written more than 15 books and published about 100 papers. The great majority of those are on issues concerning international security including work on nuclear weapons, nuclear strategy and nuclear arms control.
Are you the author of “A Guide to nuclear weapons”? — Yes, I wrote four editions of the guide to nuclear weapons during the 1980s, and in 1990 I a colleague and I published what was effectively an encyclopaedia of nuclear or biological and chemical weapons and their control.
Have you lectured to members of the UK defence establishment? — I was a lecturer at the Royal Air Force staff College through much of the 1980s, and of the joint Service Defence College at Greenwich more recently. I currently go every year to the combined Defence College, joint services combined staff College in Bracknell. I was only there about three weeks ago. I have also lectured to senior Nato audiences including the Nato planning conference. I think I am one of the few civilians invited to lecture to that, and I was an invited lecturer at the London seminar organised by the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, one of the most senior Nato posts, two years ago.
Is it fair to say you have been invited by what one might call the defence establishment on many occasions to talk to them? — Yes, I have. I have also given evidence to our House of Commons select committees on defence and on foreign affairs and again and international security issues and planning.
Have you experience in giving evidence in courts on matters pertaining to your speciality? — I have given evidence in three Crown courts in England, in Liverpool, Oxford and Luton. One of the cases involved the jets going to Indonesia, and I also have given evidence in magistrates’ courts on several occasions.
Have you also been a regular interviewee on BBC Newsnight programmes? — I’m afraid I have, yes. I have experienced a Jeremy Paxman on occasions.
So the ladies and gentlemen can take it that you are an expert and you give evidence on British nuclear weapons? — Yes, I think I could say that.
And on international relations? — Yes.
And on British defence policy? — Yes.
Professor Rogers, can we start by you giving the jury an idea of their composition of the British nuclear weapons system. If you could explain what it was in the past and what it is now.
At this stage there took place legal argument outwith the presence of the jury and the witness. Upon its conclusion and the jury and the witness returned.
Professor Rogers, if you could perhaps be shown the production for the second named panel No. 4 and production 5, both are documentary productions. The first one is headed (inaudible) and the second one is headed “deconstructing (inaudible)”. If you could have those before you, and for the benefit of the jury is production No. 4 for the second named panel and note that you wrote relating to British Nuclear forces? — Yes.
And in relation to production No. 5, is that an article which you wrote entitled “Learning from the Cold War (inaudible) confrontation”? — It is.
I may refer to those shortly. From your experience, Professor, and you qualified to explain to the jury the composition of the present British nuclear weapons system? — Yes I am.
What is the British nuclear weapons system as at 1999? — In 1999 the British nuclear weapons system consists of one system alone, that is, the Trident system. That consists of four nuclear-powered missile submarines, one of which is still under construction. The submarines operate from the Royal Naval base at Faslane, and each of the submarines can carry 16 Trident D5 missiles. These missiles have a range of up to 5000 miles.
If you could perhaps do a comparison with the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and each warhead on a Trident missile system – how would that compare to the Hiroshima bomb? — If you take a single submarine with 16 missiles, each missile can carry six thermal nuclear warheads, but they can be targeted on quite a different target. They are not all aimed at one target. Each of the six warheads is rated at about 100 kilotons of explosive power. That is the equivalent to 100,000 tons of TNT. The Hiroshima bomb exploded with a force of about 13,000 tons of TNT, 13 kilotons. So, the direct answer is that one Trident warhead is equivalent to about eight times the power of the Hiroshima bomb.
And how many warheads did you say? — The government has announced that normally the submarines will be loaded with 48 warheads as a maximum. They can carry more, but that is the current deployment.
So, we are talking about hundreds of times their effect on Hiroshima? — Certainly, many hundreds of times, if you have all the warheads and all the missiles fired from the submarine, yes.
But one would result in eight times the effect of the Hiroshima bomb? — Yes, one single warhead.
We have heard the evidence of Professor Francis Anthony Boyle talking about Trident 2. Could you perhaps explain what Trident 2 is, since I presume there is a Trident 1? — There is.
THE PROCURATOR FISCAL: Perhaps my friend could find out from the witness whether the Trident 2 is in existence, or whether this is something for the future, given what my lady has already said.
EXAMINATION CONTINUED:- That the weapons system you have just explained to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is that Trident one or Trident 2? — That is Trident 2.
So it is in existence? — It is in existence. If I could explain, the United States developed the Trident missile and it is in two forms. Trident one is the old form and United States Navy does still deploy some of them. Britain was originally going to buy the Trident one missiles, but it decided while it was still building submarines to go for the more powerful Trident 2, also known as the Trident D5 or Delta five. They’re all the same. So, the Royal Navy Trident submarines are equipped only with Trident 2 and the submarine on patrol now has that missile.
Are you also an expert, then, on current British nuclear defence policy? — Yes I am.
Can you explain to the ladies and gentlemen what that is? — In relation to nuclear policy, Britain maintains its nuclear forces, and plans to do so until such possible time as there is general nuclear disarmament. There is no policy of giving up its nuclear forces at present. The nuclear forces are primarily allocated to Nato for nuclear operations by Nato in very close conjunction with the United States, which is the dominant partner. Britain does have the capability to use its nuclear forces independently, but probably with some difficulty, because the system is essentially an American system.
So you are saying that the Trident 2 system is used under an equal umbrella with America as the senior partner? — Very much so. Britain is the only member of Nato other than the United States to commit its nuclear forces to Nato. France is independent in these matters.
Has Nato abandoned its first strike policy? — No, neither Nato nor Britain has given up the policy of first strike potential. It is framed in a different way. They refused to adopt an No first use policy.
But as we stand here today there is no British policy document saying that they would outlaw first strike? — Quite the reverse. There are documents in the public domain and which say that Britain would be prepared to use nuclear weapons first. They are at government level documents.
And have you seen those documents? — Certainly.
Are those documents hard to come by? — No, I do quote from them in one of these papers. One of the most notable examples was evidence given by the Ministry of Defence to a House of Commons Select Committee on Defence, and that was published by Hansard and is available in the House of Commons library.
What date is that? — I would have to check the details here, if you would excuse me a minute. I think that would have been in the mid-1980s, but certainly there has been no change in the policies since.
But your evidence is today that as of today’s date, and as of June of this year, Britain had not outlawed first strike? — Quite the reverse.
Are you aware of the phrases “strategic nuclear” and “sub-strategic nuclear”? — Yes I am.
Could you explain to the ladies and gentlemen what does it mean? — Strategic nuclear in the context of Trident means the missiles are loaded with the very powerful warheads, the ones I described, each one of 100 kilotons. Sub-strategic means that some missiles may be loaded with rather smaller warheads of a similar kind of power to the tactical nuclear weapons which Britain deployed for many years. Perhaps I could just explain that until last year Britain had the missile submarines and they also had tactical nuclear bombs, mainly on Tornado aircraft. The main one was a bomb called the W E 177. Britain decided to phase out its aircraft-based bombs and rely on Trident both for strategic and what they now call sub-strategic or tactical roles.
Whether strategic or sub-strategic, are you aware of the practical effects of one of those bombs being exploded? — I am, and I should say that the sub-strategic Trident warheads with what would be described as a low yield would still have a yield of about five to 10 kilotons, close to the yield of the Hiroshima bomb, and that would be the smallest version of the warhead.
So, in your view, would even the lowest British nuclear bomb in the Trident 2 facility be a weapon of mass destruction? — Certainly, yes.
And Why do you say that? — Well, essentially if you have a weapon which explodes with a power of at least 5000 tons of high explosive then it has, to put it mildly, a massive effect. It has a mass destruction effect.
Could I ask you about the question of deployment? Are you familiar with how Trident 2 is deployed? — Yes, there are some changes in deployment under way. The core of the Trident programme is that at any one time Britain will have one submarine with its missiles loaded with warheads at sea in a relatively remote location at any time, and the case of building four boats ultimately is that you can always have one at sea and also indeed have a second one ready to put to sea at short notice. Four boats allows for one to be in refit and one to go into temporary repairs. So the essence is always one boat at sea at all times.
So that it is constant? — It is constant and Britain maintains – and there is no reason to doubt that and has maintained that strategy both first to the Polaris boats, and now with the Trident boats for over 30 years.
Are you aware of how a Trident missile once at sea would be targeted? — The broad details are in the public domain, but I would stress that much remains classified. The Trident missiles can be targeted rapidly in a matter of minutes with particular target co-ordinates. Britain does not operate in what is known as permissive action link. That is a safety system used in the United States where there actually has to be an authentication code radioed to the submarine, fed into the submarine computers, before it fires its missiles. So in the case of Britain it is a yes or no signal, or something broadly like that, and from within the submarine more than one crew member – it is believed the captain and one other member – have to agree to fire.
You paint a horrific picture. If a decision was made to launch one of these missiles —— we have heard Professor Boyle say in his view it would take between 10 and 15 minutes for the system to click into place. Would you agree or disagree with that? — That is probably right. We know in the public domain that one of the earlier American land-based missiles, the Minuteman three, takes about 30 minutes to target or retarget. The Trident system is a little more modern system and so I would think about 10 to 15 minutes would be correct.
Are you aware of the concept of deterrence? — Indeed, yes.
If I were to suggest to you that since Hiroshima and Nagasaki there has been no nuclear missiles fired in anger, and that is because of the deterrence theory, what would you say to that? — I do not think that you can say that it is because of the deterrence. Indeed, when you look at what is now known of the history of the Cold War, most analysts are now concluding that we were very lucky, and that there were many occasions, far more than we realised at the time, when we came very close to the brink. It is a fundamental problem with nuclear deterrence which makes it different from other forms of military deterrence and that is that nuclear deterrence can only fail once. Other forms of deterrence which involve lesser action, the deterrence can fail and the consequences may be very serious but not cataclysmic. That is not true of nuclear deterrence.
So is it your evidence that the current British defence policy which you have just outlined to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury is dangerous? — It has to be dangerous.
THE PROCURATOR FISCAL: – well my lady, that is a leading question on a material matter but of course it has been answered.
CROSS-EXAMINATION CONTINUED:- Are there any dangers attached to the policy you have just outlined? — My belief is that there are many dangers attached to the deployment of nuclear weapons by any state with an operational style which makes them ready to fire at very short notice. Those dangers go even beyond the level of nuclear weapons being held in store or being held in reserve.
Are there any examples that you can give to the ladies and gentlemen about as you have described incidents in the past or threats of use in the past? — Well if I could take one, perhaps the most relevant one and not quite in the British context but very relevant, is what has happened this week. Up until Tuesday morning it would be reasonable to assume that the Pakistani and Indian nuclear forces were at a quite low state of alert. On Tuesday morning there was a military coup in Pakistan. I have no doubt whatsoever that the Indians immediately raised the alert status of their nuclear forces. This morning the new Pakistani military government closed down the Pakistan Parliament and sent the MPs home. So, in the space of 72 hours in that sub-continent we have moved from a state of relative calm to a state of real tension. If I could give an example from the post-Cold War period, after the tensions between East and West had died down, in January 1995 the Americans and the Norwegians launched a very large scientific rocket off the north coast of Norway for the acceptable purpose of studying aspects of the polar atmosphere. As was routinely the case, a message was sent to the appropriate Russian authorities warning of this, but because of the chaotic bureaucracy in government in Russia it did not get through to the Russian defence people, and when the rocket was launched it had characteristics thought to be similar to the Trident missile, and it was launched from a part of the world where the United States does patrol its Trident missiles. It was mistaken by the Russian early warning system for a possible attack on Moscow, and as a result of that, the three so-called nuclear briefcases held by President Yeltsin, his defence minister, and the chief of staff of the armed forces, were activated, and they got ready for a possible retaliation. The problem is that a Trident missile at a range from the north of Norway to Moscow has a flight of only 20 minutes. So, there is a very brief period for them to check that it was a false alarm. They did indeed check and it was a false alarm and the alert was stood down. That is a recent example. Going rather further back, but very relevant, you would have to take the Cuban missile crisis, and that is where our new knowledge of the Cold War I think is very relevant to the present because it is now known that although the Soviets as they then were and the Americans misjudged each other seriously at the time of that crisis in October 1962, at one stage the Americans were prepared to invade Cuba because they were not prepared to have the Soviet Union station its long range missiles there. The Americans did not know that the Soviet Union already had army tactical weapons, nuclear weapons, in Cuba, and if the Americans had invaded with their Marines the Russians would have in all probability gone nuclear as the only way to counter the invasion. This was learnt in joint discussions between American and Russian participants meeting in Moscow about four years ago when relations were much better.
In relation to our country, Britain, have there been any instances where Britain has been involved which came close to the use? — There is one major incident in relation to Britain as part of Nato, and this was in the fairly recent past. In the early 1980s and both the Soviets and Nato were deploying new kinds of nuclear weapons. The Soviets had one called the SS 20 and Nato had cruise missiles and a missile called the Pershing 2. In 1983 the Soviet Union was in a leadership crisis. Brezhnev had died and Andropov was very ill. It was at a time of huge tension. Since September that year we had an Korean jet shot down by mistake in the Sea of Okkhutz. President Reagan had made his “evil empire” speech and had talked about the possibility of war with the Soviet Union, and in the autumn of that year Nato involving Britain started an operation to test the deployment of its new missiles. It was called Operation AbelHardship ( sic ). I have talked to one of the British senior planners who was involved in this operation – this is in the public domain now – and in that operation they deployed the cruise and Pershing missiles from their bases to possible locations for firing to see if everything would work. The Russians who were watching this very carefully with their own satellites and intelligence officers mistook this for preparation for the real thing. They thought Nato might launch a surprise attack and the Nato policy was one potentially of first use. There was near paranoia in Moscow, and the Soviet forces were put on a higher state of alert. Fortunately for all of us Nato counter-intelligence and surveillance picked up that this was happening and the Nato planners realised that the Soviets were mistaking Nato’s intentions, and they quickly scaled down the operation. I understand that no such exercise was ever held again by Nato because of the risk of crisis escalation.
I have asked you, professor, about targeting under the Nato umbrella. Is it possible for Britain to target independently of Natal? — It is possible, and has been possible throughout history of British nuclear forces. It is believed to be somewhat difficult with Tridents because although this is not clearly in the public domain, there is evidence to suggest that for Trident to be completely accurate it needs American assistance, but I think the consensus amongst the independent experts is that Trident can be used but with perhaps lower accuracy if it is used independently. There is certainly an history of Britain deploying nuclear weapons outside the Nato context – for example in the Falklands war and probably in the Gulf crisis, and probably this year as well as. There have been two incidents in the last 12 months where there is evidence of a British Trident deployment which relate to international policies. One was at the time of the Gulf crisis with Iraq last December when it was reported that a Trident submarine made its presence known at Gibraltar. That is a very unusual circumstance which appears to have been sending a signal that a Trident submarine was available. Much more recently during the conflict in Kosovo earlier this year at the height of that conflict Russia, which was very antagonistic to Nato’s actions declared – at least it was not done officially but unofficially – word was given that the Russians were going back to targeting Nato facilities. It had claimed it was not doing that previously, and by a coincidence shortly after that a second Trident submarine put to sea from Faslane. That was reported in the Daily Telegraph in London and was reported as sending a message to Russia that Britain had its full capabilities available.
So, that procedure was unusual? — It was. It was certainly unusual.
But was it meant to as you say send a signal? — It was meant to send a signal and I think the problem is that it was very subtle. It was a sort of almost imminent response to changing circumstances, and I suppose that you have the combination of a system always deployed with the possibility of a sudden crisis developing at any time. The other context I mention was that this week with India and Pakistan, quite unexpectedly and suddenly India and Pakistan are in a state of tension. I could not have predicted that on Monday. Similarly, it is possible that virtually any day that a new crisis could arise in Iraq. There is an ongoing war there and there are bombing raids on Iraq at least twice a week at present and Iraq has only to retaliate and suddenly a crisis would develop.
I ask you about sending a signal. It may be obvious but if you can explain to the jury what was that signal? — The signal was a signal of capability of intent. It is sending a message to another state that we have this capability, and we can use it.
You mentioned the Falklands war in your evidence. What happened there? — The evidence there now comes from a sufficient number of sources for one to be pretty sure. During the Falklands war a number of the Royal Navy ships sailed to the South Atlantic with tactical nuclear weapons on board. There is evidence of a very severe row within the British government as to whether this was wise, and it appears that most of the weapons were taken off the ships at Ascension Island and they were put on to a Royal Fleet Auxiliary, RFA Regent, which was not into the war zone itself, but prior to that row the weapons were actually deployed on the ships and were available for use. They were mainly massive anti-submarine nuclear depth bombs. More worrying in many ways, there is now sufficient evidence to say that a Polaris strategic missile submarine was diverted from its normal deployment area to within the range of Argentina in the event that the war went disastrously wrong for Britain.
So, you evidence is in recent history that this is not a one-off. It has happened more than once? — It has happened more than once, and it is a feature of nuclear deployments. I think in the public mind nuclear weapons are solely weapons of massive last resort deterrence. This is what is called the declaratory policy, and all the major nuclear powers express that commonly. The reality is different. It is a deployment policy which is about the potential use of nuclear weapons, even potential use in conflicts which fall short of world war, and there is abundant evidence of this in British and American and of course in Russian thinking as well.
You mention Russia. Are there any moves within Nato that affect the thinking of Russia? — There are two aspects to this. The first is that Nato has expanded eastwards and we have Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary now members of Nato. The Russians regard this as threatening to them. They see this as a Nato encroachment eastwards towards them, whatever Nato says and however reassuring that is for the Poles, this is how Russia sees it. The second problem is that the Russian economy is in dire straits. Its military forces are a tiny shadow of their former self 15 years ago and in fact one recent estimate says that the entire Russian army could probably mount only two fully equipped divisions, that is, maybe 25,000 troops. That is actually less than the British army could mount at present, but far less than the combined Nato forces. As a result, the Russians are feeling very vulnerable. More worryingly, they are relying more on their nuclear weapons because they have so few conventional forces, and so you have the double problem of Russia feeling rather paranoid as Nato expands and also not having the conventional forces to defend itself.
You say that Russia feels vulnerable. Is that vulnerable to attack? — It is vulnerable to Nato influence and possible Nato interference, and this is why from their perception – and I stress it is from their perception – they thought that the Nato operations in Kosovo against a Slavic people – the Serbs – were really an example of Nato over-reaching itself and going on the offensive. We do not think that. We can see the humanitarian aspects – there may be some controversy over that – but that from the Russian perception it is Nato on the offensive.
Given the deployment of Trident as you have explained, do the Russians have a view on that? — The Russians regard Trident as a core part of the Nato nuclear forces integrated into those forces, and I should say that the Nato targeting of nuclear weapons is done partly at the headquarters in Mons in Belgium, but jointly with a group in Omaha, Nebraska which is called the Joint Strategic Target Planning staff. So, Russia sees the British system as an integrated part of the Nato nuclear forces.
And you said that Russia feels vulnerable to those forces? — It feels vulnerable to those forces as part of the total Nato forces, and it recognises that Nato now has a massive conventional and nuclear superiority over itself.
Now, if I could perhaps askew about a proposition that there could be limited use of Trident 2 that would not escalate into an all-out use of Trident 2: is that in your view a plausible scenario for for example small tactical warheads? — It is plausible that such deployment and use could be suggested. We had an example of this in fact on Monday night when the former Prime Minister John Major was interviewed and said, to use the phrase, words to the effect that “if Iraq had used chemical or biological weapons in 1991 they were told privately that the response would be massive” – in other words, nuclear.
Does Britain possess chemical or biological weapons? — No.
So, the only massive response could be what? — It had to be nuclear. The problem with saying that you would use sub-strategic Tridents or if you like tactical Trident in a limited role is that there are two basic flaws in that argument. The first is that even a limited use of, say, a single sub-strategic warhead would be using a weapon almost the size of the Hiroshima bomb. Moreover, the targeting would virtually certainly be against a command bunker or a biological weapons plant or some other ground target which means that the explosion would be what is called a ground burst and that would produce massive radioactive fall-out that you could not separate the effects of from the military and civilian. The second problem is that once even one nuclear weapon had been used we would have broken the threshold which has just about survived there since 1945, and one would have to anticipate an escalation. For example, if a nuclear weapon was used against Iraq, then almost certainly the Russians would go on a high state of alert and quite probably propose retaliation. The idea that it would be kept separate, that you could have a small nuclear war in a far-off place, I think is a dangerous illusion.
In your view is Trident 2 capable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets? — Even a sub-strategic weapon certainly the size of a Hiroshima bomb cannot distinguish between civilian and military. You could suggest the idea that you could perhaps hit a ship at sea, away from many civilians, but even then you have the risk of escalation, and I also point out that for 20 years or so nuclear weapons were tested in the atmosphere, and even though these were tested in remote locations away from people, it is known that there was radioactive fall-out which slowly encircled the globe. According to some estimates the number of additional cases of cancer worldwide would be in the hundreds of thousands as a result of civil tests, the non-military use of weapons in a test capacity.
And would it in your view cause unnecessary suffering (inaudible)? — The nature of nuclear weapons is that a large part of the effect causes radiation sickness which can be very long term. Those three technicians at that Japanese factory are still desperately ill some weeks after the event, and there were people dying of the effects of the Hiroshima bomb that very many years after, having suffered for many years from the effects.
Would a Trident 2 explosion in your view infringe the rights of neutrals? — In all probability it would, because it would involve in most conceivable circumstances the distribution of radioactive fall-out beyond national boundaries to neutral states, much as Chernobyl did. The cloud from Chernobyl came right across Europe as we know it and to England and Scotland.
In your view would it caused widespread and long-term damage to the environment? — Certainly Trident at its if I can use the phrase normal use, at strategic level, would cause massive long-term damage. There would even be damage in what you might call a limited nuclear strike.
Can I ask you now about accidents? You have production five in front of you. Was that written by yourself? — It was.
If you could perhaps go to the page on nuclear accidents? — Yes, I have it.
I think is page 215, and for the next four pages of you identify recent accidents with nuclear weapons? — I should say that the material that has been put together here primarily concentrates on accidents to Western nuclear forces where the evidence is more in the public domain. We have quite a lot of information about accidents in the Soviet Union, or Russia now, but far less, and there is I think enough evidence to suggest that there is much more to learn about accidents on the Soviet side. It is known that there is very severe radioactive contamination of parts of the Arctic Ocean because of nuclear accidents in the Soviet Union, and there is one large area of Eastern Russia which is still heavily contaminated from an accident at an nuclear processing plant I think in the late 1950s, something like 40 years ago, but we have much more evidence about the accidents with Western nuclear forces, or with the Russian – sorry, Soviet nuclear forces during the Cold War years when they were deployed on submarines in the Atlantic or the Pacific.
If you could if you wish use your document to jog your memory, and if you could perhaps tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury what happened at Windscale? — Windscale was a then major plutonium production plant in Britain developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s. There were two reactors producing weapons-grade plutonium, and in 1957 the reactor pile in No. 1 reactor caught fire and burnt for some days and proved extremely difficult to extinguish. Fortunately, the scientists responsible for building the plant, Sir John Cockcroft, had insisted when the plant was built that additional filters were put on the exhaust chimneys. They were known by their nuclear scientists as Cockcroft Follies because they had not been believed necessary. They proved incapable of handling this accident, although they made it less serious than it would have been, and there was substantial radioactive fall-out in and around the areas of Windscale and Seascale in West Cumbria and in fact for some weeks afterwards all the milk from all the dairy herds in the area was removed from public circulation because there was evidence that Iodine 131, a dangerous radio-isotope of iodine, was accumulating in the milk. The Windscale plant was actually the plant at the centre of Britain’s nuclear programme.
You have in your article are reference to B47 bombers. If you could perhaps tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury the situation about accidents on those planes? — The B47 bomber was one of the major medium range nuclear bombers in the United States Air Force. It experienced a number of accidents — in one case in March 1956 where a bomber which was en route to a base in southern Europe failed to rendezvous with its refuelling tanker aircraft and disappeared with its two nuclear weapons. It is believed to have crashed and the weapons were never recovered. In another incident only four months later a B47 crashed into a nuclear storage depot at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. All four crew members were killed and the high explosive elements within the nuclear bombs in the heat were actually seriously damaged but fortunately did not explode. If they had, it was believed that it would have had radioactive fall-out over much of East Anglia. There was another incident in the United States a couple of years later of a broadly similar kind, and throughout the Fifties and Sixties there were far more serious incidents involving the very big bomber, the B 52 Stratofortress. If I could point to perhaps two examples of that, one of these planes crashed when it was landing at Tule airforce base in the north of Greenland. All four nuclear weapons on board were destroyed in the fire, and the clean-up team had to isolate I think one-and-a-half million gallons of ice and water and remove them from the site under conditions of great difficulty because it was so radioactive and that was put into permanent store at a location in Texas. At about the same time another B 52 crashed in mid-air with the refuelling tanker over Palmares in Spain and the nuclear weapons and broke up on impact and in the case of one weapon the Americans had to recover one-and-a-half thousand tons of topsoil and rock which was severely contaminated and again that is in permanent storage because it was so unsafe.
Was there an incident with a B 52 bomber in Spokane, in the USA? — Indeed, there was a much more recent one if I remember rightly. In fact that was barely four years ago, and a B 52 was practising for an air show at Fairchild air force base near Spokane, Washington State, and that was one of the operational nuclear bases for the United States Airforce, and the plane crashed within 50 feet of one of the nuclear storage bunkers. The pilot and three crew members were killed in the crash and according to witnesses the pilot crashed the aircraft while attempting to avoid hitting the storage depot and probably paid with his life for trying to avoid a nuclear catastrophe.
In your view with your knowledge of accidents is there an ever-present threat of accident? — There is. The examples I have given are a few of many. There are probably somewhere between 30 and 60 nuclear weapons which have been lost in accidents, mostly at sea, and never recovered. There have been at least 30 serious nuclear accidents among Western forces and one suspects at least as many among the Soviet, more Russian maybe, the Russian forces. It is a continuing danger inevitable with any kind of military system.
Are there any forms of our leading lights in Nato now anxious about the accident situation? — What is most remarkable about the last five years is the way in which some of the most senior participants at the highest levels of the military and civilian administrations in Nato have adopted in retirement remarkably anti-nuclear voices. I would cite two examples. The first is Robert McNamara who was actually President Kennedy’s Secretary of Defence at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. He took part in those discussions I mentioned in Moscow. Mr McNamara is convinced of the need to move to worldwide nuclear disarmament, having experienced the dangers of the Cold War. An even more recent example would be that of General Lee Butler. General Butler was until the middle of 1990s the head, that is, the entire head, or US strategic Command. I should explain that until the early Nineties the United States strategic nuclear force was split between the air force with its ICBMs and bombers and the navy with its Trident missiles. That was amalgamated into the Strategic Command and Butler was the head of that. Since he has retired he has become probably the best known proponent of moves towards a nuclear-free world and believes that the dangers during the Cold War were far greater than was known in the public domain and more crucially remain great because of the risk of further proliferation and instability.
In your view, does the use of a rather diluted high-security weapons system as held and deployed by Britain have a detrimental effect on your subject of international relations? — In my opinion it does. There have been strenuous moves by many countries, particularly in the last 10 years, to try and get control of nuclear proliferation, and that the Non-Proliferation treaty is one of the major examples of this. One problem is that the original version of the Non-Proliferation treaty had in it article 6 which encouraged the then nuclear powers – Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States – to go for progressive nuclear disarmament as their contribution to non-proliferation. They have not done so to any final extent. The Non-Proliferation treaty and article 6 in it which was directed at the countries which already had nuclear weapons, but were prepared to sign the treaty – the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States, and as a condition of them being party to the treaty, they were expected to progressively go for nuclear disarmament. Although there has been some limited progress they have failed to do so in any complete way and have made it clear they do not intend to do so, and what you constantly find is that States who are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons regard it as hypocritical of existing nuclear states to say that they must not purchase them. It is an argument that if a middle-ranking power like Britain insists on having nuclear weapons, it cannot tell 100 other persons not to do so. The Indians in particular have always made this argument – why should we, India, with 1 billion people, not have nuclear weapons when you, Britain, have nuclear weapons?.
So, the Cold War has been billed as over. In your view is the world safer? — No, can I put it this way? During the Cold War there was a small but definite risk of an utter global nuclear catastrophe, what the military analysts would call a Central nuclear exchange. That has diminished a lot, although the tensions I mentioned in Russia suggest that it has not gone away, but what is now happening is we are moving into a kind of multiple and multi-system world where a number of states develop nuclear and biological and chemical weapons, and in fact the world in that sense is actually becoming more unstable, not more stable, and this is why there have been such desperate arguments by many states like South Africa and Mexico and others to move towards nuclear disarmament, and South Africa of course gave up its nuclear weapons immediately.
What kind of worldwide opposition is there to nuclear weapons? — The opposition is,,,,,,,.
THE PROCURATOR FISCAL: – again I don’t know if we are straying outwith,,,,,.
SHERIFF GIMBLETT: Yes, I think possibly we are and I should have stopped you earlier.
EXAMINATION CONTINUED:- Are you qualified, professor to talk about the history of civil resistance? — Yes I am.
Is that because of your academic research? — It is because of my academic research but I would also say that some of the international experts on civil resistance are on the staff of the department where I work and I obviously work with them in terms of studying these issues.
Has civil resistance the capacity to effect change? — Civil resistance does indeed have a capacity. I could give three instances, one from the last three weeks. In broad terms resistance was immensely important at the end of the Cold War in East Germany, in Poland and in Czechoslovakia, of actually forcing governments from power and restoring democracy. It was very important in the Baltic states, in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia because the public said they had had enough and they would not allow the state to run. The end of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines was largely a result of people power, people coming onto the streets and saying, “we will not accept what the government is doing”. The most recent example is academically fascinating but politically very significant. About four weeks ago, when things were going so disastrously wrong in the East Timor part of Indonesia it was felt that the had to take action, but the only state that could relieve that action was the state immediately available with armed forces, Australia, but the Australian government was very reluctant to intervene. Within a space of three or four days there was a massive public mood of demonstrations in Sydney, Canberra and elsewhere. The public resistance to the Government’s policy made it change its policy and to be fair to the Australian government, once it recognised the strength of this public mood it actually led the force in which at least has done some good in the last two weeks.
In our own country, Britain, has there been an example or examples of civil resistance effecting changes? — I think historically possibly the most significant one will be the civil resistance elements of the anti-slavery campaign. This was a classic example of where there was a public mood which for years had accepted slavery as an acceptable part of civilised behaviour, but a small group began to suggest otherwise and they campaigned and they lobbied Parliament and they put pressure on and they engaged in civil disobedience and on a number of occasions they were even up in court and were acquitted. They were an important part of the process of turning the entire mood around against slavery and eventually the British Empire late in the day – but at least it did eventually lead the way to the abolition of slavery and eventually to its abolition in the great majority of parts of the world within the last century.
CROSSEXAMINED BY MR MAYER :- Professor Rogers, please have before you production No. 8 in the bundle of productions for the second panel, the top of which has this on it. Professor Rogers, I want you to turn Please to the very back of that documents, to appendix two if you can. Are you familiar with that document? — I am familiar with the document in general terms. I have not read it previous to this occasion.
What is it? — What it does is to request from the White House to the Senate that the Senate will ratify the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.
The President of the United States – would that be in your opinion the most powerful man in the world? — Yes.
He sends that comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty which he personally signed to the Senate to be ratified, approved? — Yes.
And if they don’t approve it, please tell me what happens? — When that treaty is up for agreement it will be signed by the heads of state and it then has to be ratified by the legislature, the Senate or the House of Commons of the state concerned, and it only comes into force where there are sufficient signings and ratifications. If a state of the power of the United States does not ratify a treaty, then to all intents and purposes the treaty has very little impact.
And do you understand that you have been travelling to Greenock – have you had an opportunity to see the news last night? — I did, yes.
Would you tell me who has signed his letter to the American Senate that you have in your hand? — This is signed by William J Clinton.
Is this the Test ban treaty which they were discussing last night or another one? — No, it is this one.
THE PROCURATOR FISCAL: – my lady, I’m not sure how relevant this is, how this could affect the accused in this case, subject to the commencement of this trial..
MR MAYER: – I have no further questions of this witness, my lady.
After an adjournment for lunch.
CROSS-EXAMINED BY THE PROCURATOR FISCAL:- in your evidence this morning you were telling us that Britain has a total of four submarines equipped with the Trident system, and I think you said one of which is still under construction? — That is right, yes.
Now, before I ask you the next question, can I ask is it within your expertise or within the public domain to state whether or not that vessel is still in that dockyard somewhere? — I’m not sure where it is at present. I believe it may have been launched. It is not yet fully deployed – I can certainly say that.
When a conventional ship is launched it is then what they call fitted out. Is that correct? — Yes.
Is there something along the same lines with a nuclear submarine? — Yes, it does have to be fitted out before it can be deployed and the like a conventional surface warship it undergoes trials as well.
But before we get to the stage of trials it has to be fitted out? — Yes.
Without going into any details particularly anything that is outwith the public domain, approximately how long does it take if this is within your knowledge or expertise between the launching of one of the submarines and it being ready to sail from port to undertake its first sea trials? — Based on what is known about the other Trident boats I would have to give quite a wide margin. It could be between as little as six months and as long as 18 months.
So that between the launch of a Trident submarine and the time when it is first able to put to sea to undergo its first sea trials can vary from six months in your expertise and 18 months or more? — Yes, but I would add a caution that this is not material which is necessarily in the public domain and I would ask that to be considered as rather informed opinion.
I’m not in any way trying to tie you down. So, presumably if it is not within the public domain it is informed opinion that it could take less than that or longer than that? — I think it would be very unlikely to take less. It could possibly take longer.
So you are talking about a minimum of six months in your informed opinion and 18 months of possibly more? — Possibly more.
Again is it within your expertise, and within the public domain, when this 4th vessel was launched? — I would have to refer to the document – I could tell you then.
Well unless there is any objection, I have no objection? — It is document 4 and I think I do give the date of launching. I’m sorry, no. The final boat I just list has been deployed within about 15 months from now. I am afraid I cannot recall the launch date.
Again on the basis of your knowledge and expertise, professor, how many countries other than the United Kingdom possess nuclear arms? — There are five declared countries who have been possessors for a long period. That is the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China. Two countries have tested nuclear weapons and are considered to be either nuclear-capable or about to be and that is India and Pakistan, and there is one undeclared nuclear power who everybody assumes to have a powerful arsenal and that is Israel.
You say one undeclared nuclear power who everyone assumes to have something? — A substantial arsenal, and Israel is believed to have an arsenal of between 100/200 hundred nuclear weapons.
Now, you referred there- to 5 declared owners of nuclear weapons or nuclear capabilities. Why did you use the word “declared”? — It is a term used as a convention where a country admits that it actually has nuclear weapons available for use, and countries in that position declare it in terms of treaty obligations.
So they are free, open and accountable about that? — Yes.
Does that allow, therefore, for countries to have the capability of nuclear weapons and not tell anyone about it? — Israel is a case in point. Israel is believed to have had nuclear weapons probably since the 1970s or even slightly earlier. There was a crisis in 1973 and there is evidence that Israel came quite close to using nuclear weapons.
Was that the Yom Kippur war? — Yom Kippur or Ramadan war, yes. Another country did have nuclear weapons and did not declare it and that was South Africa, but South Africa actually went for unilateral nuclear disarmament in the early 1990s. It had 6 nuclear devices and those were dismantled.
In your informed opinion, and with the expertise in these fields which you have told us about, are there any other countries who are likely to have nuclear capability in terms of weapons, or being very close to it? — Probably not very close to it. Pakistan and India are the countries who have been accelerating the development. Countries which have shown evidence of, if I might say, nuclear ambitions, have been Brazil, Argentina, Iraq, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan and Iran. Of those countries, Argentina and Brazil have uniquely declared that they would no longer seek to develop nuclear weapons in I think 1995. It was a kind of regional nuclear arms race that that they were competing with each other but I think they came to an agreement to stop it. I should also say that three of the former republics of the Soviet Union,,,,,,.
I was going to ask you about that? — Well, if I can just say that Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine all had nuclear weapons on their territory when they split from Russia and in all three cases, in some cases under a lot of encouragement from other states, they agreed to give up their nuclear weapons and return them to Russia. I’m afraid that they have to some extent had second thoughts recently, but they have not decided to reacquire them so far.
When you say that they have had second thoughts, what do you mean by that? — What I mean is that they have been concerned again with what they perceive to be the Nato expansion and particularly Nato’s action against Serbia, and they have been concerned that they do not now have nuclear weapons.
A word which we as laymen hear on the television very often in dealing with arms, quite often in relation not to nuclear arms, is the word verification, and from what we hear for instance in relation to what is going on in Iraq just now, that is a very contentious issue? — It is indeed, yes.
Is it possible, therefore, for countries to have that capability and for no one to know about it? — It is possible but very difficult. It is well known that the United States was well aware of Israel’s nuclear capability.
But of course they were allies for a long time? — They were indeed, and it is very difficult for a country to develop nuclear weapons through to completion without it being spotted, given the remarkable satellite capabilities which are now available.
What about a country which has got them and then professes to give them up, like the Russian republics that you referred to? — In that case I believe that the passage of the nuclear weapons back to Russia was done openly.
Was that independently verified? — I don’t think it has been, but put it this way it is an area which has not caused concern to Nato and the United States. In fact, in the case of Kazakhstan, one particular supply of enriched uranium was actually given over voluntarily to the United States and shipped to the United States for safe storage. So I think in that case the United States probably had sufficiently good relationships with Kazakhstan to be satisfied that what they said they had done they had indeed done.
But would I be right in thinking other than Britain you have four other declared powers with nuclear capability? — Yes.
And if we add Pakistan and India to which you refer? — And Israel.
And in an earlier reference you said India is now on full alert with its nuclear weapons? — I said that anybody working in the field would assume that from three days ago.
So, you have seven countries other than Britain in respect of whom it is acknowledged that they have nuclear weapons? — Yes.
And possibly others? — Yes.
Close to it? — Yes.
And others who have had them but say they have given them back to Russia? — And South Africa which dismantled his nuclear weapons and in the case of South Africa I think I’m correct in saying that they have invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect their facilities to confirm that the have dismantled them.
But other than Britain you have at least seven powers in the world who have nuclear weapons? — Yes.
I think you said earlier in your evidence on any day a new crisis could arise at any time? — Yes.
And that need not for instance necessarily involve Nato and for instance Russia? — Not necessarily.
Because, you say, a potential crisis at least could be in India in Pakistan? — Yes.
And again you are the expert and the field and you will correct me if I’m wrong, but they have had a local long running dispute for many years over the territory of Kashmir? — And they have been to war in 1937,1965 and 1970 and this last year, yes.
And I think as you said earlier as far as a nuclear device being set off, you said if Britain had used one against Iraq, you cannot necessarily suppose that that is an end to the matter? — Right.
Because things can escalate? — Yes.
Other powers could become involved? — Yes.
Nuclear and non-nuclear? — Potentially, yes.
And over and above that, if you have even one nuclear device exploded, you then have the environmental damage which can occur? — That is correct, yes.
And, for instance, you indicated that as a result of Chernobyl there was a cloud over Scotland and England? — Yes.
So, would you agree with me that if, for instance, Britain were to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons we are by no means out of the woods? — We are certainly not out of the woods. That is not the end of it. The process of Britain giving up its nuclear weapons unilaterally, though, would probably be the biggest single boost to the prospect of global nuclear disarmament that there would have been for maybe 30 years.
But for instance we have to look at the Pakistanis and the Indians, they still have a problem between them. Whether or not Britain gives up its weapons none of them is going to give up in nuclear weapons until the other does? — It is certainly not the end of the matter but I would suggest that if you put it in a wider context, there are eight nuclear powers assumed and there are about 178 in non-nuclear powers. Many of them could develop nuclear weapons – countries like Spain, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, and maybe 30 others could develop nuclear weapons but have not done so, and many southern states are very much working towards global nuclear reductions. In that context the decision of a significant nuclear state to go non-nuclear would be far greater than, say, South Africa giving them up or Kazakhstan. In political terms it would probably give a very considerable boost to progress towards nuclear disarmament.
But things can change on the world stage? — They can indeed.
And a country for instance which thought its neighbour was developing nuclear arms, a neighbour with which she was having trouble, there could be no guarantee that they then we would not start to develop nuclear arms if they felt under threat? — That is certainly true, but it is true that if you have a state such as Britain which has nuclear arms it is very difficult to argue that the other countries should not have them as well.