Scottish clergy hold Easter Saturday peace service at nuclear base

Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms (SCANA)  held a Communion Service in the middle of a blockade of the Trident nuclear weapons base at Faslane at 1.15pm on Easter Saturday. Half a dozen ministers of churches from Glasgow, Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland joined with people from all walks of life in this "symbolic blockade" as part of a Europe-wide day of actions calling for the disarmament of Trident and the removal of all nuclear weapons from Europe.

Over a hundred protesters joined the walk which started from the Faslane Peace Camp where protesters have maintained a continuous protest against nuclear weapons for twenty seven years.

The extraordinary service follows the publication two days ago of a letter signed by the leaders of the major churches in Scotland, including Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland  Right Reverend Bill Hewitt  "demanding that the billions of pounds spent on nuclear weapons be used instead to help the nation's most vulnerable citizens." Following the service a festive picnic was held in the “bellmouth” directly in front of  the North Gate of Faslane Naval Base.

One month ahead of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) Review Conference, peace movements in all the European countries with nuclear weapons on their territory (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey and the UK) are sending one message: it is time for nuclear disarmament.

Jane Tallents of Helensburgh said: “A year ago US President Obama put nuclear disarmament on the international political agenda with his speech in Prague. Under the new START agreement announced this week the US and Russia have agreed to cut deployed strategic nuclear weapons. But twenty years after the end of the Cold War, British, French and US nuclear weapons remain in Europe while the US and Russia will retain stockpiles of more than 20,000 nuclear weapons. And they are modernizating their nuclear arsenals as are Britain and France. Forty years ago under the terms of the NPT the nuclear powers promised to disarm in exchange for other countries not obtaining nuclear weapons, but they have not done it. Since then several more countries have acquired nuclear weapons. If the countries which rely on their nuclear weapons for security do not disarm more and more countries will want them too. The only way to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons is for countries that have the bomb, including Britain, to disarm and to abolish nuclear weapons globally.”

Rev David McLachlan, minister of Langside Church of Scotland in Glasgow said: “The churches in Scotland have been absolutely clear that nuclear weapons are immoral. As Christians and Clergy we are called to take a stand against them.  It is unacceptable for the UK and NATO to threaten to use nuclear weapons because they are indiscriminate. If Trident is ever used it will mean the death of millions of innocent people. That’s what deterrence means.”

Brian Larkin, a member of Trident Ploughshares said: "Nuclear weapons know no borders. Friends across Europe today are calling for the all European countries with nuclear weapons to act now to disarm.   European peace movements are calling on the governments meeting at the NPT Review Conference at the UN in May to commit to negotiations leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons and on NATO to renounce the policy of reliance on nuclear weapons for security."

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