The Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire, was subject to the biggest Edit date and timeblockade in years as 800 campaigners effectively blocked all entrances to the site for several hours. Anti-nuclear campaigners are intent on obstructing building work which is in preparation for the production of new nuclear warheads. British protesters joined with international activists to send a strong message to government here and worldwide, that the abolition of nuclear weapons is the only answer to security and proliferation risks.Protesters were joined by two Nobel Peace Prize laureates – Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire who ‘locked-on’ to other campaigners at the designated ‘Women’s Gate’. The blockade was timed to raise the profile of the issue of Trident replacement in the run-up both to the General Election and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, in New York in May. Opinion polls now consistently show a majority against spending £76bn or more on Trident Replacement .
Spending on new facilities at AWE has increased seventeen-fold over the past decade, from £24m in 2000 to £420m last year. This is in spite of government denials that any decision has been made to go ahead with new warheads, with Ministers stating decisions will not be made until the next Parliament.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said “The Prime Minister says he wants Britain to take a lead on nuclear disarmament. But he cannot do this if he is spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on upgrading the nuclear bomb factory at Aldermaston. As Britain goes to the UN nuclear talks in New York in May, we urge the Prime Minister to see sense as the majority of the British public have and end wasteful spending on weapons of mass destruction and commit genuinely to a nuclear weapons free world.
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The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.
Different groups of campaigners will gather at each of the seven gates to the site: England, Scotland, Wales, cyclists and environmentalists, faith groups, students and women.
Individuals taking part include: Jody Williams, who was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize alongside the organisation she was the chief spokesperson of – the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Mairead Maguire who won the 1976 prize as the co-founder of the ‘Community of Peace People’ in Northern Ireland. Jill Evans MEP (Plaid Cymru), the Anglican Bishops of Reading (The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell) and Bath and Wells (The Rt Revd Peter Price); and the Catholic Bishop of Brentwood (The Rt Revd Thomas McMahon) will also take part.
Spending at AWE on capital programmes has risen from £24m in 2000/1 .