A marriage made in hell
Some twenty Trident Ploughshares activists, dressed in unusual Gothic attire, made a colourful and vibrant presence outside the Camel’s Head gate of Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth on 12 February.
They arrived to enact the deplorable ’marriage’ of the people and City of Plymouth to Britain’s own Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Trident missile system. A marriage made seemingly without the consent of many residents in the City.
One Trident Ploughshares activist stated: “We come here in the spirit of love, to say that Plymouth’s love of Trident submarines breaks our hearts.”
Another Trident Ploughshares activist said: “At a time when many of Plymouth’s essential services are strapped for cash, we could better use the resources wasted on the Trident system.”
The continued presence of Trident exposes the blatant hypocrisy of the British stance on Weapons of Mass Destruction and nuclear proliferation. It is also a clear and blatant violation of various international laws including the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Hague Principles, the Geneva Conventions and the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion rendered in July 1996, among others.
The continued presence of Trident in Plymouth also makes the City and people of Plymouth complicit in breaking these laws, and in the horrific consequences of their ever being used.
Police dismantle Trident
A fine heading indeed, and true – albeit it was only a model Trident. A clever contrivance of copper tubing and heavy gauge plastic some 25 feet long, which was parked in the road outside the Scottish Parliament. And this replica sub had portholes, so the folk inside could see what was happening in the world outside.
There were ten of us involved, from places as scattered as Southampton and Glasgow. On the eve of the action, on 9th March, we all met in St Augustine’s Church in Edinburgh for a rehearsal of the event, and on the 10th in the morning, we swung into action, like a well-oiled machine…..well, sort of. The submarine was taken to an area nearby by lorry, and we lumped it in sections onto the Canongate, and set it up. Then we locked on inside. And waited. And waited.
Eventually the police arrived, and hung around. The hours passed. Goodies mysteriously appeared courtesy of the Scottish Parliament catering department (nice one, Carolyn Leckie), and hot chips were very welcome indeed. We could make brief sorties outside the sub to go to the loo, or to stretch our legs.
We chose the Scottish Parliament because our action was an appeal to the MSPs to act on our behalf, and to speak up against Trident. Most of them scuttled past, but they could not help but see us.
I was the first to be nicked, just before 10 pm. And never was I so glad to be nicked. I was stiff as a board after spending so many hours cramped up inside the sub.
Sheriff Noel McPartlin presided at the trial on the 5 Dec. He seemed a decent cove, and gave us a fair hearing. The Prosecutor predictably made much of the Lord Advocates Reference. We were at pains to point out that we were not pleading necessity as per the LAR, but were denying that the offence had taken place.
However, despite the evident fair-mindedness of the sheriff, old habits die hard – or rather, the courts still refuse to consider the actuality of Trident – and we were all found guilty, on two charges of obstructing the road, (£50 fine), and of obstructing the police in their duty, (£250 fine). However, I suspect that most of us will not be paying our fines.
Being on trial in court in a group of ten was a powerful and empowering experience. To hear the same matter dealt with in so may different and cogent ways, to be part of a team where each person was giving witness in their own special personal way, was quite unforgettable.
I think my feelings are best expressed in the words of Lance Goodie, one of those who had shared the action:
“It was an honour and a privilege to be there and hear your cogently worded arguments – if anyone had any doubts about what TP is about you guys summed it all up in court – you were all absolutely brilliant and I am glad I was there to witness it.”
First printed in Nuclear Free Scotland January 2006
First Block the Builders Blockade at AWE
Less than a week after the decision by a local planning committee not to object to plans for a new super-laser facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston, campaigners used their bodies to achieve what the planners have failed to do: to stop work on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
On 25 January, a West Berkshire Planning Committee decided not to object to plans for the “ORION” laser facility at AWE Aldermaston. This laser is a key part of the infrastructure being developed at AWE: by simulating the effects at the heart of a thermo-nuclear explosion, the laser enables new nuclear weapons to be developed and tested without using full-scale underground bomb tests.
Block the Builders is committed to taking non-violent direct action to prevent this work, and members of the campaign are ready to risk arrest to highlight and to stop the developments at AWE Aldermaston. A formal decision is expected within this parliament on whether to replace the Trident (submarine-based) nuclear weapons system, though evidence from the ORION laser and other building work at Aldermaston indicates that the decision to build a new generation of nuclear weapons may already have been made in principle.
At 6:30am on 30 January, about 50 campaigners from around the country gathered at the gates of the bomb factory, and groups began to ’lock-on’ to each other in front of the gates, preventing access to the site.
A local planning committee is the only forum that has been available to object to the ORION laser, even though this development has serious implications.
The blockade came at a time when the government is telling Iran not to develop nuclear weapons, and just weeks after Mohammed ElBaradei received the Nobel peace prize and called on nuclear weapons states to “take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament.” Development of new nuclear weapons further undermines our commitments to disarm, made as part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Trident Ploughshares has links with many other campaigns working for peace, justice and disarmament. These networks bring us strength and inspiration; ideas; fresh energy and hope. This issue of Speed the Plough brings news from just a few of these campaigns.
International Complaint Day
The Belgian Bombspotting campaign is looking for international support in the struggle for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, and the end of NATO’s nuclear weapons strategy.
The campaign is looking for groups in Britain and elsewhere to participate in an international “Complaint Day” against nuclear weapons, in the week before the NATO summit on November 13-14 in Riga, Latvia. While the NATO heads of state meet to discuss the new strategic concept of the North-Atlantic Alliance, we want to ensure that nuclear weapons are a political issue.
The “Complaint Day” will involve groups of people around Europe making an official complaint against their own government’s role in the illegal NATO nuclear weapons strategy, for example by filing an official complaint at their local police station.
Local groups will decide the details of the action (e.g. press and inviting other groups), though there is a standard complaint text to hand in. You could organise a public event where local organisations such as trade unions, environmental groups, churches and youth groups are involved – or you could go to the police station with your affinity group before taking part in some form of nonviolent direct action. The important thing is to get involved!
For more information on the “Complaint Day” action, and the NATO alternative summit that will take place in Brussels on November 25th, contact:
David Heller email@example.com tel: +32 472 342 463 http://www.bombspotting.be
Faslane 365 starts to roll!
The next year or so will be a critical time for the disarmament of Britain’s nuclear weapons. Although the government seems determined to replace the current system with a new one, there is at least the possibility of some public debate. Faslane 365 is a golden opportunity to put serious pressure on our elected representatives.
Recent years have seen a series of peaceful mass blockades of the Trident base on the Clyde, famous for their good humoured and carnival atmosphere. Although they have been successful it is now time to take the next step of causing continuous peaceful disruption at the base at a level which the authorities will not be able to cope with.
The idea is that an organisation, or an area, signs up for a particular two-day period and gathers at least 100 people willing to risk arrest. (100 is needed for an effective blockade). If they cannot manage 100 then they could be matched with another group or groups to make up the numbers. These groups will highlight whatever concerns them most, connecting their campaign with the issue of Trident.
Faslane 365 is a separate campaign from Trident Ploughshares, though it has TP’s active support. It is separate so that as far as possible it can be owned by the groups who do the blockading. F365 also has the support of UK CND, Scottish CND, CND Cymru, (as well as some local groups including Helensburgh) and support from a range of activist and community groups across the UK and beyond. (For a full list see our website).
We have a number of groups already committed but we aren’t going public with the rota until we have the first 100 days filled. We will have a public launch event on 9th September and hope to start the blockades on 1st October – the anniversary of the Judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal.
Faslane 365 has caught the imagination of many people, including those outside the usual circles of peace activists. You could be surprised by the response in your town or district when you raise the idea of taking a slot.. Would you like to talk to someone about the possibilities? Please see the website at http://www.faslane365.org and contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on +44 (0)1263 512049 or 0845 45 88 364.
Trident Ploughshares will organise a Peoples Parliament in September. How would you like to help pass the following bills through Parliament?
Funding armed services through Jumble Sales – “The Jumble Sale Act” Serious Crimes Bill (making the activities of war and arms production illegal) Unilaterally scrap/disarm all nuclear weapons Redistributing the arms budget Abolishing the Crown Prerogative Stopping climate change ………Any other ideas?
For details give your snail mail address to Irene Willis 90 The Parkway, Canvey Island, Essex SSB 0AE 01268 682820 Mob 07876332695 email@example.com (with Peoples Parliament in the subject line)
Consultation recommends no new nuclear subs
Various people in Trident Ploughshares have become involved in one way or another with the consultation on what to do with decommissioned submarines.
The consultation is known as ISOLUS – the Interim Storage of Laid up Submarines and more recently CoRWM – the Consultation on Radioactive Waste Management.
Throughout there has always been the dilemma between wanting to have our say and influence decisions and not wanting to be giving credibility to a process that just opens up the floodgates for even more nuclear reactors – whether they are power stations or in submarines.
What we have been able to do is repeatedly state that the most obvious thing you agree is not to make any more of the damn things when we are still struggling to deal with the waste that we have.
No more construction of nuclear powered submarines was one of the recommendations from the latest phase of the ISOLUS consultation in spite of it not being in the remit given by the MOD. ISOLUS is currently on hold pending the results from CoRWM due in the summer. CoRWM has been more resistant to discussing new build which has lead to some strong input from across the NGO’s involved.
Both these consultations have a long way to go before anything practical is actually done. If you want to know more contact:
Jane Tallents firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter Lanyon email@example.com
New Nuclear Power? No Thanks!
The government is reviewing its energy policy in relation to climate change. It seems that Tony Blair wants to build 10 new nuclear power stations around the U.K. Apparently he thinks this is a solution to Britain’s need to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 and 60% by 2050.
In reality, even if we doubled nuclear power in the UK, it would only cut carbon emissions by about 8%. It would also double the amount of radioactive spent fuel in the UK (which we still have no safe way of storing); increase the number of terrorist targets in the UK; require billions of pounds of public subsidy and deeply undermine the renewable energy sector.
And as we all know, the link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons proliferation is ever present. The same enrichment facilities can be used to make 3% enriched uranium for power station fuel or 90% enriched uranium for nuclear warheads – hence the worry over Iran at the moment. Nuclear power stations produce plutonium which can also be used to make nuclear explosives. And almost every nuclear programme in existence was built in order to develop nuclear weapons. If Britain goes ahead with nuclear power it will encourage the rest of the world to do the same.
If Britain genuinely wants to make the necessary cuts in carbon emissions it must support renewable energy production and energy efficiency. There is only so much money that the government and private investors have available to put into developing electricity generation systems. If it goes to nuclear it won’t go to renewables and efficiency. The UK has enough wind power alone to meet our energy needs nine times over. As tidal, wave and solar technologies develop, a diverse renewables industry will emerge. Combined with the 30% reductions in energy demand through efficiency identified as possible by the government in the 2003 Energy Review, there is no need for nuclear.
Please write three letters. In order of priority these should go to:
1. Gordon Brown. As Chancellor of the Exchequer he will have the casting vote in the cabinet as to whether nuclear power should be supported. As the Prime Minister in waiting he also has a vested interest in not upsetting the public.
2. Your own MP asking them to put pressure on the cabinet (especially Gordon Brown). If your own MP is in the cabinet then they should be top priority, before Brown.
3. George Osborne MP. As the shadow Chancellor of the Tory party which has indicated that it might come out against nuclear power he can make it clear that if they get back into office they will not support the nuclear power industry (who are clearly saying that they need ongoing support).
For information and suggestions for letter writing: http://www.newnuclearpowernothanks.org/
Help to mobilise people locally – get in touch with the New Nuclear Power? No Thanks! Network.
Trident resistors act on Martin Luther King’s birthday
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, Martin Luther King touched on the issue of our wilful ignorance of nuclear weapons:
“The fact that most of the time human beings put the truth about the nature and risks of the nuclear war out of their minds because it is too painful and therefore not ’acceptable’, does not alter the nature and risks of such war. The device of ’rejection’ may temporarily cover up anxiety, but it does not bestow peace of mind and emotional security.”
In the United States educational system, however, Martin Luther King’s legacy is often reduced to trite, feel-good messages which glide over our continuing problems of racism, poverty and militarism which the leader so passionately illuminated during his life. The accomplishments of Rev. King and civil rights heroine Rosa Parks are portrayed as noble and inspirational, but also inevitable in their success, and occurring too long ago to have much bearing on our lives now.
Fortunately many of us overcome the US educational system and learn, through books, films and conversation with our elders, just how perilous and challenging were the struggles faced by our foremothers and -fathers. We discover that deep societal change takes a long time: time filled with direct action and, even more so, with the lengthy meetings to plan it; with quiet vigils; with leaflets carefully prepared; with newsletters edited; with phone calls, emails and letters establishing connections and seeking support.
On January 15, Rev. King’s birthday, Trident resisters honored his legacy, and the memory of Rosa Parks, by continuing their tradition of active non-cooperation with unjust systems. Sixteen people were arrested for blocking the main entrance of Bangor Submarine Base; one other was arrested for crossing onto the base and attempting to deliver our leaflet to the base commander. About 70 others vigiled and passed out information to those entering the base.
Bangor is home of nine Trident subs, containing nearly 2000 nuclear warheads (potentially the largest active nuclear weapons depot in the world). Remarkably, many people in nearby Seattle and the surrounding towns are unaware of the concentration of nuclear bombs at Bangor – I myself had lived an hour away for twelve years before I became aware of it.
The direct action, conducted three times per year, along with weekly vigils and leaflet distribution, attempts to counteract the “device of rejection” which allows good people to live with machines that could annihilate humanity. Bremerton, the town surrounding the base, is a quiet area in which over 40% of the jobs are military-related. One might imagine that popular opinion would therefore be solidly against our actions, but the history of trials for those arrested at the base indicates otherwise. Repeatedly in the 1990s, juries, made up of people who often had family members working on base, ruled to acquit those arrested for blocking the Bangor entrance. This led to the county prosecutor saying publicly in 2000 that he would stop taking arrestees to trial. For five years, the charges were dropped without prosecution after people were arrested at the base.
That changed last fall, when four people, including myself, received letters indicating we were to be tried for blocking the base last August 8. Interestingly, though 19 people were arrested that day, the prosecutor is only pursuing charges against those of us who live in Olympia, the state’s capitol and a recently-declared Nuclear Free Zone. Olympia also has a history of peace activism, and in 2004 we successfully turned away the visit of a nuclear submarine scheduled to stay in our port.
Our trial is set to begin April 10, though some of the fundamental issues will be decided prior to the trial. The prosecutor is seeking motions to prevent us giving testimony about nuclear weapons, international law, the military, the US president, our motivations and intentions, and even our “mindset” before and during the action. The prosecutor’s case would then rest on simple logistics: were we in the roadway and did we in fact hold up traffic, creating a risk of vehicular accidents. Those motions will be decided by our trial judge in a pre-trial hearing on March 29.
Whether we win or lose the trial, resistance here to Trident will continue, as I know it will too at Faslane. In that same speech in 1964 Rev. King said, “Here and there an individual or group dares to love, and rises to the majestic heights of moral maturity. So in a real sense this is a great time to be alive. Therefore, I am not yet discouraged about the future? Granted that those who pioneer in the struggle for peace and freedom will still face uncomfortable jail terms, painful threats of death; they will still be battered by the storms of persecution, leading them to the nagging feeling that they can no longer bear such a heavy burden, and the temptation of wanting to retreat to a more quiet and serene life.” Rev. King left us a challenge with so many of his words, and it is an honor to be part of a worldwide community that accepts that challenge and seeks a world free of the terror that is nuclearism.
Vanunu Freedom Ride
On 21 April 2006, Mordechai Vanunu will have been held captive in Israel for 20 years.
For telling the world that Israel was secretly developing nuclear weapons, Vanunu spent 18 years in prison – 12 in solitary confinement. He was released from prison in April 2004, but is still not free. His freedom of speech, movement and association are all severely restricted. He is not allowed to leave Israel and suffers continuing harassment by the Israeli authorities.
To protest at his continuing persecution, to demand his complete freedom and the dismantling of all nuclear weapons, the Vanunu Freedom Ride on bicycles will start at Faslane on 7 April 2006. The ride travels on to Glasgow and ends in London on 21 April. We will stop at towns and cities on the way and hold events to raise awareness of Vanunu’s situation and Israel’s nuclear weapons – still secret and not subject to international inspection.
The route covers Faslane, Glasgow, Carlisle, Manchester, Stoke, Birmingham, Oxford and London. Any cyclists in your organisation/ group are welcome to join us for as short or as long a distance as suits them – anything from a couple of miles to the whole trip! People who do not wish to cycle can support by organising practical help and publicity for the cyclists. We also welcome any donations and creative ideas for publicity-raising events or activities.
If you wish to join the ride, offer accommodation for cyclists or support the ride, contact: Vanunu Freedom Ride, c/o London Region CND, Mordechai Vanunu House, 162 Holloway Road, London N7 8DQ.
Tel: 0845 4581965 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.vanunufreedomride.org.uk
Peace News 70 years on?
In early 1936, a group of North London peaceniks met to plan “a weekly newspaper serving all who are working for peace”. Six months later, on a shoestring budget of £6, Britain’s first ever pacifist newspaper was born.
This year Peace News celebrates its 70th birthday. The paper has been at the very heart of peace campaigning since its inception: from supporting conscientious objectors in the forties to nurturing resistance to nuclear power in the seventies and eighties. In the late 1950s, Peace News effectively became the unofficial paper of the radical wing of the growing nuclear disarmament movement, playing a central role in the rise of the anti-bomb movement and helping to launch the first Aldermaston march.
Peace News has come a long way over the years and has also undergone numerous changes: going from weekly to monthly to quarterly publication, and from newspaper to magazine format.
A year ago, Peace News underwent its most recent transformation – being re-launched as a British-based monthly newspaper with an emphasis on action, and a desire to be a real tool for the movement. As a result, the cover price has been lowered to £1 or just 50p ’on the streets’, making the paper far more accessible and enabling campaigners and activists to hear up-to-date reports on the issues that matter.
Peace News has always retained its pacifist sentiment and commitment to nonviolence as the only credible means of change. This year, we’ll be championing that commitment with a celebration of seven decades of radical peace publishing. Keep your eyes and ears open for news of Peace News 70th Birthday events and help us to make it a year to remember!
To subscribe to Peace News today, visit http://www.peacenews.info and follow the links. Or, call 0845 456 5183 and leave your name, address and contact number. An annual subscription to Peace News (10 issues) costs just £10 -a supporting subscription costs £20.
Rolls Royce Raynesway Cases Rumble On
Of the ten people arrested on 24 October last year during the blockade of the Rolls Royce Derby factory, which makes and maintains nuclear reactors for the Trident fleet, four are still waiting trial, the others having had cautions or their cases not proceeded with on the day. Determined driver Lisa is to be tried at the end of March. Of the four charged with obstructing the highway, three have now appeared in court, Phill and David after being picked up on warrants by Scottish police and Angie after handing herself in. Katherine is still to appear. A pre-trial review is set for 20 February. The defendants want to bring in issues of international law and the safety threats arising from the nuclear plant. They have remarked that negotiating the local court system is very like trying to find your way as a stranger round the city itself, with the same level of arcane routing, incomprehensible signs and a general sense that no non-resident or outsider to the system has any other option but to blunder around in the hope that there may be some landmark that they can recognise.
Six months sentence for F16 disarmer
On 10th August 2005, one day after the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, Turi Vaccaro, disarmed two nuclear capable F16 warplanes at Woensdrecht airbase in the Netherands, by beating on them with a hammer that he had brought from Assisi in Italy.
The court rejected his argument that he was acting to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity. The judgement was a guilty verdict, and a prison sentence of 6 months, as well as a demand to pay 750,000 Euro towards the cost of the damage that was done. If Turi is not able to pay this sum, he will need to spend a further year in prison, after which time this claim will still be outstanding. However, as he had been held on remand since August, the 6 months of imprisonment ended at the start of February, and Turi is now free and back in Italy.
Contact the support group for news of Turi: email@example.com or check the website: http://www.motherearth.org/prisoner… for updates.
Vital Law Lords hearing
On Monday 20th February UK Law Lords began a hearing of great importance for political activism as they decide whether a British court can rule on the criminality of a war started by a UK government.
The 14 cases directly affected by the hearing include the “Fairford Five”, who seek to know what arguments they will be allowed to use in their defence. The five, including two TP pledgers, are charged with conspiracy and criminal damage, following their action in March 2003 to prevent or delay the take-off of American B-52 bombers from Fairford air force base in Gloucestershire.
These bombers were waiting to launch the attack on Iraq that would begin the Iraq war. Two of the five disabled a fleet of bomb carriers and other support vehicles used to supply the B-52 bombers. All say they were justified in their actions, because they aimed at preventing the commission of the far greater crime of ’aggression’, starting an unprovoked war.
Lower courts have so far denied them this defence argument, saying that the alleged crime of attacking another country is a matter for international law, which cannot be ruled on in a British court.
Trident on Trial – the case for people’s disarmament Angie Zelter 2001
This book tells the story of the Maytime disarmament action in 1999 and the subsequent court cases and hearings. Excellent for the legal arguments against nuclear weapons.
Price £3, from: Irene Willis, 90 The Parkway, Canvey Island, Essex SSB 0AE 01268 682820 Mob 07876332695 firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as buying copies you can ask for a bundle on sale or return. Irene also has copies of our current campaigning leaflets and exhibition materials.
Oratorio Trident: a British war crime
Camilla Cancantata’s, performed in the Scottish Supreme Courts complex in July 2004, is available on at £3 for the CD alone and £5 for a set including a booklet and the sheet music is included. The price has been reduced to encourage groups to perform the songs at the bases, in the streets (or courts!), basically anywhere.
CDs and sets can be ordered from: Angie Zelter, Valley Farmhouse, East Runton, Cromer, Norfolk NR27 9PN, ENGLAND. 01263 512049 email@example.com
Cheques made out to “Trident Ploughshares”.
18th May – 21st May 2006 Devonport Camp will be held in Plymouth.
29th July – 12th August 2006 Trident Ploughshares International Disarmament Camp at Coulport.
This campaign depends upon your donations and fundraising. Although we have no paid workers we need the funds to run our camps and mass actions and to keep our communications and support systems going. Please consider giving a donation or organising local fundraising.