Scottish High Court Hears that Trident is a Crime

11th October 2000

Today, before an attentive and engaged panel of judges at the High Court in Edinburgh, a peace activist has developed the case against the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system, pointing out its devastating effects and the fact that it is a continuing threat.
Making her submission as part of the hearing of the Lord Advocate’s Reference of the ’Trident Three’ trial, Angie Zelter illustrated the destructive power of a single warhead by referring to a map of Edinburgh showing military targets overlaid with the damage, death and injury that would be caused. Moving on from this grim exhibit she showed that the International Criminal Court Statute states that the preparation for war crimes is itself a war crime. It is British government policy to have a “credible deterrent”. “I come back,” she said “once more to the simple underlying purpose of the British nuclear deterrent – to threaten awful destruction. It is that awful destruction, that crime, which we three women were trying to prevent by our action.”

Trident’s unlawful status meant that members of the British government and the military personnel involved were all “international criminals subject to trial …”. Citizens had time and again attempted to have this criminality addressed through the legal system. No prosecutions had taken place – a “serious indictment of the criminal prosecution service in both England and Scotland.”

In dealing with the question of the right of citizens to act to prevent crime she said: “If our action had been one of nonviolently disarming the equipment essential to the mad plans of a local drug dealer who was threatening to blow up a whole street of innocent families where his rival lived, we would probably not have been brought to trial.” In concluding she said: “The nuclear crime prevention will continue whatever the outcome of the LAR but if the court is wise and courageous it will also grapple with the underlying problems arising out of the Greenock trial – that of the vital question of the illegality of Trident and how to remove it from Scotland.”

Skale Eskeland, a law professor from the University of Oslo, who came to Edinburgh today specifically for the hearing said: If the three women get the Court to come out in agreement with them, the consequences will be immense and will reach far beyond Scotland.” The hearing continues.