Greenock 1999 Joint Statement of ‘Loch Goil Three’


Joint Statement of Angie Zelter, Ulla Roder and Ellen Moxley

This is the joint statement of the Loch Goil Activists who spent over three hours on a research barge and ‘allegedly’ caused around £100,000 of damage to Trident-related research and sonar equipment.

We: Angie Zelter, Ulla Roder, Ellen Moxley,
have joined together to try to disarm part of the UK Trident nuclear weapon system and thereby prevent grave breaches of national and international law.

We are all part of Trident Ploughshares 2000 having signed the Pledge to Prevent Nuclear Crime and the Individual Nonviolence and Safety Pledge.

We had all seen the Trident Ploughshares 2000 video and read the Tri-Denting It Handbook before planning our disarmament action. These explain very clearly the background to our involvement in Trident Ploughshares 2000, our motivation for the action, the state of our minds, and the philosophical grounding of our actions.

We were especially mindful of the nonviolence and safety ground-rules endeavouring to make sure in all our planning that our actions would cause no harm to any living being. We were also careful to make sure that our actions would be accountable and open. TP2000 as a whole has communicated with the Government, Military and Judiciary on numerous occasions, sending them copies of the Handbook, Video and full lists of all Pledgers and saying we would welcome either that those responsible for planning Crimes against Humanity and grave breaches of humanitarian law be put on trial or that all the Pledgers be put on trial. This pre-prepared Joint Statement is a part of that process. We are not trying to hide our actions or to evade the consequences of our actions.

Apart from a very necessary secrecy before attempting this disarmament work in Loch Goil we will be very open and will stay with our action to explain why and how we have done it. Copies of this Statement, with its accompanying enclosures, will be left with our banners at the separate sites where we will do the disarmament work. If we manage to complete our crime prevention task without interruption then we will go to the nearest police station to explain what we have done. We will do this, not because we feel we have committed any crime but because we understand that at first glance our act of disarmament and crime prevention may be misinterpreted as simply a matter of property damage or even of vandalism with a political motivation and we wish to explain what we have done and why.

We wish to make it quite clear that our actions are not politically motivated (although we realise they have a political dimension). Our actions are based primarily on the legal and ethical premise that the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system is a system preparing for the mass murder of innocent civilians over untold generations and we believe that the Trident system is ethically unjustifiable as well as being unlawful in international law. As loving, feeling, human beings we feel responsible for trying to do everything in our power to prevent the Trident system from being able to operate with the proviso that our actions are safe, nonviolent, open and accountable.

All three of us have spent long years trying the many conventional ways our society has devised for the righting of great wrongs. After having educated ourselves and thought about the issues, hearing the different viewpoints, and concluding that nuclear weapons are terrorist weapons of mass destruction that could never be used ethically or lawfully, we have demonstrated against them; written and published articles and educational materials, arranged public meetings, leafleted the general public and military personnel, signed petitions, held vigils, lobbied Parliament and spoken to our constituency Members of Parliament.

When our attempts to get our Parliamentary Representatives to act on our behalf have failed we have even gone to the Courts, the police and other official institutions in our societies and asked for their help to bring the Government to Court to hear our legal arguments on the unlawfulness of British preparations to use nuclear weapons. On an international level we have supported similar initiatives including the successful NGO-led campaign to ask the International Court of Justice to advise on the legality of all nuclear weapons.

Applying this general Advisory Opinion of the World Court to the specific UK nuclear system it is quite clear that any use of one of the UK’s 100 kiloton warheads would be unlawful. We have tried all manner of ways to stop this terrible threat to ours and others’ lives and environment but have failed. Each person or institution that we have encountered along our way have agreed that nuclear weapons in general are terrible, that the world would be a better and safer place without them, but each have denied their own personal responsibility, saying the responsibility lies with another. We do not agree. Each of us must take responsibility and not just pass it on to someone else. Therefore we can see no alternative to taking direct disarmament action ourselves. We have thus, each in our separate ways, come to this point, where we have decided to disarm equipment essential to the full deployment of the UK’s Trident submarine based nuclear weapon system.

We do it now, when our countries (Denmark, England and Scotland are all a part of NATO) are at war in the Balkans and the threat of nuclear war is probably higher than it has been for a very long time. We have read with horror of suggestions that nuclear bombs could be dropped at targets in Serbia and that if we have nuclear weapons then this is the time to use them. Russia has already responded with counter threats of using nuclear weapons. Whatever the conflict, it is always wrong to use nuclear weapons. We do this act of disarmament now in a time of war in order to take responsibility as global citizens to try to prevent the possibility that nuclear weapons would be used.

We will attempt to disarm the floating laboratory complex in Loch Goil such that it will not be able to contribute to the active deployment of Trident with its weapons of mass destruction. We will try to

A. Board the floating laboratory barge Maytime and disarm the equipment which is used to collect active acoustic signatures, and then to
B. Board the separate satellite platform Newt and disarm the equipment there which is primarily used for data collection from operational submarines.
Trident submarines need to control and minimise their noise signatures in order to remain hidden in the oceans with their terrible load of nuclear missiles. Noise includes magnetic, acoustic, thermal, radar and visual signals. The Trident support facilities in Loch Goil are run by DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) and are vital for the researching, testing, measurement and reduction of Trident’s noise signatures. DERA is the prime supplier of technical advice to the UK Ministry of Defence and submarine trials are conducted at their facilities in Loch Goil very regularly with Trident submarines often being seen in the area.

The recent revelation that the Chinese have now got details of how to track Trident subs by satellite using sensors to detect minute changes in the earth’s magnetic field means that Trident is no longer invisible. Thus this DERA facility is even more important to the Trident programme as better techniques to hide the magnetic noise will need to be researched and tried out. The reporting of the Chinese incident confirms us in our belief that this DERA facility plays a key role in the Trident threat and will be essential in keeping Trident deployed. Any disarmament action that we do here is therefore of prime importance for the prevention of nuclear crime.

The core of the Floating Laboratory Complex in Loch Goil – that we are attempting to disarm – is the barge Maytime, which is used to collect active acoustic signature data and other related measurements from operational submarines and small scale models. Full scale submarine target echo strength measurements are made using Maytime in conjunction with the mobile Newt platform. These measurements involve mooring the submarine on the nearby static noise range and propelling the Newt on a circular course around the moored submarine. Measurements are also taken of the beam patterns of in-service submarine sonar systems. Large acoustic arrays are deployed and long-baseline experiments are conducted in conjunction with the Newt satellite platform.

We plan to disarm such items as:-

the variable depth hydrophones and vertical line arrays which provide close measurement of acoustic profiles
the Range VHF and UHF surface and underwater communications equipment that permit vessel-to-shore communication of the tracking information
the Trisponder tracking system
radar and electronic warfare calibrators
extra low frequency emission testing equipment
equipment used for the mechanical testing of cables and towed arrays
the pull-down winch on Maytime that controls the model submarine
the long-baseline experimental set-ups
We will disarm this equipment with sadness and regret for the people who have invested so much of their personal time and energy in these technical experiments and who may feel that we are attacking their personal work. We justify our actions as being necessary however, because these experiments are part of the complex nuclear weapon system that enables the UK to threaten terrible mass destruction that effects us all.

However well-intentioned the technicians of DERA or of the Ministry of Defence may be, it is nevertheless absolutely inexcusable that their work should put all of our lives at such risk.

The long-lasting effects of the radioactive fallout across national borders and through to unborn generations from any detonation (either accidental or in self-defence) of Trident’s nuclear warheads are a threat so immense that our thoughtful, calm, considered and reasonable disarmament action of this part of the nuclear system is a very responsible remedial action.

The technicians and scientists involved in the work at the DERA facilities could much better give up the Trident connected work and be involved in building up their research and support work for peaceful projects that are benefit to the whole global community.

Our disarmament work is done in a spirit of love and compassion. We understand that it may not be viewed sympathetically by the authorities but hope that it will help the nuclear disarmament process.