Residents living in the Oxfordshire village of Brize Norton have expressed their fears over a potential nuclear attack, due to the nearby airbase’s role in receiving transports of materials from the US, for use in Britain’s nuclear weapons.
RAF Brize Norton is Britain’s largest RAF station with over 6,000 service personnel and staff. It’s home to Britain’s strategic air transport and refuelling fleets and is the point of embarkation for British troops going overseas. It also plays a more secretive role in Britain’s nuclear weapons complex by facilitating Special Nuclear Material (SNM) Flights between Britain and the US.
Cooperation with the US has been vital to Britain maintaining its nuclear weapons for decades – with both transferring copious amounts of technical information, materials and components for use in each other’s nuclear weapons programmes.
The exact nature of the cargo remains a closely guarded secret. The only information we have is that they contain special nuclear material, and have come from – or are destined for – use in nuclear weapons; indeed, the material originates from, or is destined for, the Atomic Weapons Establishments at Burghfield or Aldermaston.
SNM convoys are used by the Atomic Weapons Establishment to transport key components and materials for use in British nuclear weapons across the country. The principal materials transported in these convoys are plutonium and highly enriched uranium but any highly classified components or technology can potentially be transported.
For the residents of Brize Norton, not only do they have to cope with the noise of regular flights operating from the busy air base nearby, they also have to contend with “huge convoys of blacked-out lorries, police riot vans, ambulances and other trucks” which regularly rumble through their small village – and which locals believe carry nuclear weapons or nuclear waste.
Speaking to The Sun newspaper, many residents expressed frustration at how they are treated by police when the convoys are passing through: including having guns pulled on them and being forced to pull over. Others spoke of their frustration and safety concerns at how the small village becomes clogged with traffic, and a lack of communication from the base on these issues.
Most shocking of all is that many now fear that RAF Brize Norton’s role in transporting nuclear materials will make it a high priority target in the event of a nuclear war with Russia.
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:
“Brize Norton’s residents are right to be fearful of the very real threat posed by Britain’s nuclear weapons – and the risk at which they put us. Britain is putting vast sums of money into its nuclear arsenal, but it isn’t making the country any safer. On the contrary, it is making all of us a target. We invite everyone to join CND’s campaign to scrap nuclear weapons. This would make Oxfordshire – and the whole of Britain – a much safer place.”
Image credit: SAC Neil Chapman / Flickr