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Peace campaigners blockade atomic weapons centre

Peace campaigners at Aldermaston

Peace campaigners at Aldermaston

Christian peace campaigners joined a demonstration at a gate to the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston, Berkshire this morning, in protest at plans to build a new multi-million pound warhead testing facility at the site.

The planned 'Project Hydrus' is the latest development in an ongoing £1 billion-a-year modernisation programme at the AWE, which includes the Orion laser, an enriched uranium handling facility and three new supercomputers. Campaigners say this will enable the UK to develop a new generation of nuclear warheads, circumventing its obligations under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and undermining its disarmament commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They are also concerned about the health and safety and environmental implications of the new developments, particularly in light of the lack of public disclosure.

Four of the activists chained themselves together and lay down in front of the gate for two hours. Others stood close to them with banners, and sang songs. Many workers trying to enter the base were diverted away by Ministry of Defence police, but traffic on the public highway was unaffected. Following the blockade, three Catholic peace campaigners, Fr Martin Newell, 43, Passionist priest from the London Catholic Worker, Susan Clarkson, 63, of the Oxford Catholic Worker, and Chris Cole, 47, were arrested after they cut through a perimeter fence, knelt and prayed.

In a statement the three said: "We come to the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston to open a new gateway into this tightly guarded factory of death. We come inspired by the message of Jesus to love our enemies, to be peacemakers and to live nonviolently at all times... We believe that AWE Aldermaston and its extensive and expensive new development programme needs to be exposed for what it is: a factory for the creation of weapons of mass destruction which have the power to destroy this beautiful world, given to us by God, our loving creator, to care and tend."


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