Posted by Abolition, 4th Dec 2006 | Category: Nuclear Weapon News
Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp today condemned the government's White Paper for its commitment to retaining a UK nuclear weapons system, and for its failure to come clean about measures the government has already taken at AWE Aldermaston to build facilities to test, design and build a new generation of nuclear warheads.
"Tony Blair's vague offer to reduce the number of submarines and warheads is just a meaningless gesture towards the government's commitments under international law. Whether there are three or four submarines is irrelevant when the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty demands that nuclear weapons states move in good faith towards nuclear disarmament" said AWPC. "Even one Trident warhead has four times the killing power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima".
While today's White Paper  today outlined plans to replace the current Vanguard submarines which carry the current Trident missile system, it failed to clarify the government's plans for the design, capacity and killing power of the warheads proposed to be used in the new fleet.
In Section 7 of the White Paper, the government states "Decisions on whether and how we may need to refurbish or replace this warhead are likely to be necessary in the next parliament".
Yet this decision has already been made - in the commitment to a new delivery platform has already been made; in the declared intention of producing new missiles will be produced - "in collaboration with the US"; warheads too, will also be produced in conjunction with the US, under was the Trident system, under the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement.
By the next parliament, which could end as late as 2012, the Orion laser will have been commissioned, and - according to documents published by AWE  many of the new facilities planned at AWE, (and which experts agree would only be necessary for the production of a new warhead ),will have been built.
AWPC are calling on the government to come clean on the fact that at AWE Aldermaston, the Ministry of Defence has already stated work on facilities to test, design and build new warheads, in advance of any parliamentary decision in this - or the next parliament.
Although the "debate" is seen as a done deal AWPC, along with many other organizations and politicians, is calling for an open and transparent public debate on the whether nuclear weapons provide us with the security we really need - and for a halt for all building work at AWE Aldermaston until such time that the British people are allowed to tell the government if they really want a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Work on the construction of the new Orion laser has been progressing throughout 2006; AWE have recently purchased the world's most advanced supercomputer; submitted plans for a Â£60million office building to house some of the 1,2000 new staff it is currently recruiting; entered into contracts with hundreds of private companies; and will shortly submit plans for the construction of a new hydrodynamics facility. According to AWE ml - who manage the site for the government - the new developments are expected to be on the scale of Terminal 5 at Heathrow.
AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield, Site Development Context Plan 2005-2015, November 2005
 See for example, John Ainslie, "What Next for Aldermaston?", 2005.