The Guardian • Issue #2069


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2069

Hannah Middleton

While the United States is colonising northern Australia, occupying Australian military bases and ports, bringing in nuclear submarines and nuclear-capable B52 planes, establishing resupply and armaments industries in our country, and infiltrating Australian policy and intelligence institutions, the people of the UK are fighting to get rid of US and home grown nukes.

The latest campaign is to prevent US nuclear weapons returning to England.

US Air Force budget documents seen by the Federation of American Scientists outline that a $59 million ‘surety dormitory’ to house 144 military personnel will be built at Lakenheath airbase in Suffolk.

In US military and government speak, “surety” is a term used to refer to keeping nuclear weapons safe, secure, and under control.

Last year it was revealed that the nuclear storage bunkers at Lakenheath would be upgraded to house the B61-12, Washington’s newest guided nuclear bomb, due for deployment to US/NATO bases in Europe this year.

A public opinion poll taken at this time found that 59 per cent are opposed to the deployment of US nuclear weapons in Britain.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has called a national day of action on 23rd September to stop US nukes going to Britain,

CND states: “Over the decades, from Lakenheath to Greenham Common, persistent popular protest has been vital in getting US nuclear weapons removed from Britain. Now we must stop them coming back.”

In March 2021, the UK government controversially announced that it would increase the number of nuclear warheads in its arsenal by over 40 per cent, the first increase since the Cold War. This came on top of the replacement of the UK’s current nuclear weapons system, Trident.

Trident is made up of four nuclear submarines each of which can carry up to eight missiles. Each missile can carry up to five nuclear warheads, each around eight times as destructive as the bomb which flattened Hiroshima in 1945.

CND has calculated that replacing Trident will cost at least £205 billion (over A$400 billion). This is an appalling waste of money. It would be enough to build 120 state of the art hospitals and employ 150,000 new nurses, or build three million affordable homes, install solar panels in every home in the UK, or pay the tuition fees for eight million students.

The UK government continues to invest significantly in the Atomic Weapons Establishment which produces and maintains Britain’s nuclear warheads. It was recently revealed that spending on the facility has doubled from a budgeted £2 billion ($3.9 billion) to almost £4 billion ($7.8 billion) in a single year.

The government decision to increase the nuclear arsenal will only exacerbate the danger of nuclear proliferation, CND says. If countries like the UK insist that they need these weapons for their security, other countries may well come to the same conclusion.

Several arms companies – including a number involved in nuclear weapons production – were members of a UK consortium which won a contract to manufacture 10,000 ventilators during the COVID pandemic.

Workers at the Barrow shipyard, where BAE Systems is building the Dreadnought submarines, were also put to work on producing medical equipment.

These developments confirmed that it is possible to redeploy workers to more socially useful parts of the economy.

In 1996, the International Court of Justice concluded that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.”

CND insists that “the concept of true security in the 21st century should be re-evaluated. Climate change and its repercussions also pose a serious threat to international stability.

“Ensuring our security is no longer centred on military scenarios, but rather on increasingly complex and ever-changing factors, and the government should plan accordingly.”

Scrapping Trident and its replacement remains an urgent priority for CND which wants to see a world without nuclear weapons.

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