Christian peace groups to join Aldermaston blockade

Carol singing at Lockheed Martin recently

Carol singing at Lockheed Martin recently

Christian peace groups from all denominations will be joining hundreds of campaigners next Monday, to block access to every gate of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston in Berkshire.

The blockade, initiated by Trident Ploughshares (TP) is supported by Pax Christi, Christian CND and the Catholic Worker movement, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and others.  It aims to halt construction of multi-billion pound facilities for research and development of a new generation of nuclear warheads.

Among those coming to the blockade are the Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, Most Rev Thomas McMahon, Anglican Bishops of Bristol, Most Rev Mike Hill, Reading, Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, and Bath and Wells, Rev Peter Price; Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire (who led the successful campaign for the Convention on Cluster Munitions and worked to end violence in Northern Ireland respectively); and Jill Evans MEP. Medical professionals will be attending.

A sizeable contingent is expected from Europe, among them choirs, women's groups, cyclists, environmentalists and  faith groups. 

Each of the seven gates to the nuclear weapons site will be themed: Scotland, Wales, England,  and  internationals.

Brian Larkin from TP, travelling from Scotland, said: “This is the biggest blockade of Aldermaston in years and comes at a time when even major political parties are questioning the logic of spending up to £97 billion on useless weapons.  It demonstrates the depth and breadth of determined civil society opposition to Trident and its planned replacement.

"Although the government now seems to have delayed the next phase of Trident replacement until after the general election, the ongoing construction of facilities at the AWE for the design, development and manufacture of new nuclear warheads is illegal and immoral and will only lead to further proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Angie Zelter, also from TP, travelling from Wales, added: “In May, world governments will meet to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); but this program of modernisation of UK nuclear weapons violates the treaty and could lead to a disastrous failure of the Review Conference.

"Over forty years ago, when it signed up to the treaty, the UK made a deal to negotiate multilateral nuclear disarmament in exchange for states without nuclear weapons agreeing not to obtain them. Not only have we failed to keep that promise but now we are preparing to build a new generation of nuclear weapons. If the government wants to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons it should get rid of its own nuclear weapons first. We are calling on the UK to abide by its agreement to achieve nuclear disarmament – that means taking Trident off patrol, halting all work and preparations for any new generation of nuclear weapons and using the AWE only for disarmament and verification.”

Sarah Lasenby, also from TP, travelling from Oxford, added: “The time has come for the UK to disarm its nuclear weapons. Instead of building a new generation, the government should go to the upcoming NPT Review Conference in New York and commit to negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams recently said: “To work for a world free from nuclear arms is to work for moral and human dignity.” And “the bomb is an attack on faith, hope and love… the central virtues of Christian existence.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland  has also said: “Disarming now, reversing the decision to replace Trident with a new system, would show Britain to be truly great... Weak people and nations…saddle themselves with the trappings of power and might. But as people of faith we believe that only God should come with power and might.” 

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