Faith groups in largest anti-nuclear protest for a decade

 Catholics were among Christian and other religious groups who came together on Monday with people from the peace movement for the biggest anti-nuclear protest at AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) Aldermaston for a decade.

Among the 300 protestors were an estimated 80 Christians. And among the more than 30 people arrested for blocking entrances to the base, at least five were Christian.

Members of Pax Christi and Catholic Workers were part of the attempt to halt work at Britain's nuclear bomb factory on Monday. They were among groups of protesters who blocked entrances to the base by sitting in the road, some locked together, others using superglue. One mainly Christian group blocked the Construction Gate for 5 hours. Elsewhere, a Christian group dressed as angels helped block a gate by super glueing themselves together.

The protests were directed against the government's controversial decision to upgrade the country's nuclear missiles in defiance of the UK commitment to disarm under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The gates of the site, which develops nuclear warheads, were blocked by hundreds of campaigners at the start of UN World Disarmament Week on Monday

Dan Viesnik of the organisers Trident PLoughshares said: "The government does not seem to take notice of anything else other than direct action".

"We are opposed to the development of a new generation of warheads. The new bombs being built here could scupper nuclear disarmament for another 50 years."

Rev Stephen Cottrell, Anglican Bishop of Reading said: "How can we tell others not to possess something we are so keen not only to keep but also to upgrade? While the world needs investment to build a sustainable future we invest in bombs which only bring further instability to an already unstable world. The peace the world longs for can only be found beyond the futility of the arms race and in particular the horrors and waste of nuclear weapons. As the Anglican bishop who serving Berkshire I look forward to the day when Aldermaston leads the world. Not in making bombs but in decommissioning them, and I am happy to offer my support and prayers to all people of good will who want to build a sustainable world without the terror of nuclear arms."

The British government is planning to spend nearly £6 billion on Aldermaston over the next three years, but insists that although the submarine-based Trident missile system is being replaced, no decision has yet been made to develop new nuclear warheads.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), said the protest entitled: 'The Big Blockade' also highlighted the "shocking implications" of last year's floods that caused work to be suspended at the nuclear arms plants.

Alarm systems were knocked out by the flooding and despite being 'within two to three hours' of potentially radioactive water being released into the Berkshire countryside, no site emergency was declared, CND warned.

CND Chair Kate Hudson, said: "The majority of British taxpayers do not want their money sent on Trident replacement and the new generation of nuclear weapons that will be made here at Aldermaston."

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