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FINAL PRESS RELEASE: Anti-nuclear lock-on action closes HMNB Clyde South Gate: five arrests, police blocking legal observers and photographers

FINAL PRESS RELEASE 09.20 2th of February:

Anti-nuclear lock-on action closes HMNB Clyde South Gate: five arrests, police blocking legal observers and photographers

Starting at 06.30 AM today 5 anti-nuclear activists blocked the morning traffic at the south gate of HMNB Clyde in Faslane. The activists locked-on to one another using arm tubes and formed a blockade on the road leading to the gates. The MoD police cutting team arrived at the scene at 07:00 AM, while MoD officers blocked legal observers’ access from the activists. The morning traffic was directed to the North Gate of the naval base. At 07.30 AM, at the time of the first arrest, the tailback of the traffic stretched from the North Gate beyond Shandon, a distance of over two miles.

By 09.20 AM all 5 anti-nuclear activists were arrested and transported from the scene. The South Gate, one of two main staff entrances to the base, was closed for approximately two and a half hours. The action was conducted by activists from the nearby Faslane Peace Camp.

“The struggle against nuclear weapons has been going on for decades, both in UK and internationally. Due to arms-control treaties and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. alone has reduced its stockpile of nuclear weapons from 31,000 to about 4,800 during the last few decades. Judging by tones of political leaders, Downing Street staff included, it instead seems we are facing the danger of heading towards a new arms race. We all should be working for a nuclear-free world instead of developing new nuclear technology. Renewing Trident would be a step in the very wrong direction”, says activist Molly Garfield, participating the action.

The action is a second protest to take place within a short time. Both sparked by the revelation of the Royal Navy misfiring of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile from the HMS Vengeance last June and questions surrounding the cover-up of the test results. Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly dodged the questions concerning her actions around the Trident issue. Instead, Mrs. May has stated “I think we should defend our country, I think we should play our role in NATO with an independent nuclear deterrent”, when pressed on her knowledge of the failed test.

“It is baffling how the Conservatives are not being held to account over their blatant disregard for transparency and public interest. While there’s a conceivable argument surrounding national security, the fact that this information was held from elected representatives immediately prior to a crucial vote can’t be tolerated and certainly shouldn’t be ignored”, Roxy Newton, another activist, stated.

With their action, the activists also expressed their solidarity to the five anti-Trident protesters who barred the entrance to Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire on June 2016. The activists from the Christian group Put Down the Sword/Trident Ploughshares were found guilty of wilful obstruction and were sentenced to a conditional discharge of six months. Trident mounted nuclear warheads are assembled in Burghfield.

“This is one struggle. On times when individuals taking their stand and expressing their political opinions can face getting ridiculed or patronised or told repeatedly how protests of any nature are futile, it is vitally important to refuse to go passive”, Newton emphasises.

The Faslane Peace Camp is a permanent protest camp dedicated to campaigning and protesting against nuclear weapons since 1982. The camp, located next to the HMNB Clyde, is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year.

For interviews and more photos contact:
faslanepeacecamp@protonmail.com
07376 188216

Photos for free use, photo credentials: Faslane Peace Camp archives:


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ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE 06:30 AM 2th of February 

This morning at 06.30 AM, 5 anti-nuclear activists once again blocked the morning traffic at the south gate of HMNB Clyde in Faslane. The activists have locked-on to one another using arm tubes and formed a blockade on the road leading to the gates, closing down the busy morning traffic. Action was conducted by activists from the nearby Faslane Peace Camp. At the time of writing, the activists are still locked on and there have been no arrests. The MOD police at the scene have restricted the access of legal observers.

The action was a second protest to take place within a short time. Both sparked by the revelation of the Royal Navy misfiring of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile from the HMS Vengeance last June and questions surrounding the cover-up of the test results. Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly dodged the questions concerning her actions around the Trident issue. Instead, Mrs. May has stated “I think we should defend our country, I think we should play our role in NATO with an independent nuclear deterrent”, when pressed on her knowledge of the failed test. Activist Roxy Newton stated “It is baffling how the Conservatives are not being held to account over their blatant disregard for transparency and public interest. While there’s a conceivable argument surrounding national security, the fact that this information was held from elected representatives immediately prior to a crucial vote can’t be tolerated and certainly shouldn’t be ignored”

“The struggle against nuclear weapons has been going on for decades, both in UK and internationally. Due to arms-control treaties and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. alone has reduced its stockpile of nuclear weapons from 31,000 to about 4,800 during the last few decades. Judging by tones of political leaders, Downing Street staff included, it instead seems we are facing the danger of heading towards a new arms race. We all should be working for a nuclear-free world instead of developing new nuclear technology. Renewing Trident would be a step in the very wrong direction”, says activist Molly Garfield, participating the action.

Admiral Lord West, who led the Navy from 2002-2009 and later served as a security minister recently criticized the Trident misfiring to BBC. West described the decision not to admit the failed test was “extraordinary”, pointing how a firing goes wrong, you should that it’s gone wrong unless you think there’s something that means so fundamentally wrong that the whole system is no longer viable”.

With their action, the activists also expressed their solidarity to the five anti-Trident protesters who barred the entrance to Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire on June 2016. The activists from the Christian group Put Down the Sword/Trident Ploughshares were found guilty of wilful obstruction and were sentenced to a conditional discharge of six months. Trident mounted nuclear warheads are assembled in Burghfield.

“This is one struggle. On times when individuals taking their stand and expressing their political opinions can face getting ridiculed or patronised or told repeatedly how protests of any nature are futile, it is vitally important to refuse to go passive”, says XXX, another activist.

The Faslane Peace Camp is a permanent protest camp dedicated to campaigning and protesting against nuclear weapons since 1982. The camp, located next to the HMNB Clyde, is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year.

For interviews and photos contact:
faslanepeacecamp@protonmail.com
07376 188216

While waiting to get to bin the bomb, we also cleaned up something else

Nothing big this time. Just a little case of littering; some people out there just are slightly ill-mannered.

Today, in the midst of a regular lunch hour and daily doings at the Peace Camp, some uninvited guests from the MoD police marched in to the camp. Some of the campers approached them in an according manner, asking what the heck was this bright idea of a visit about this time.

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They presented their business. They had, they said, seen an anonymous person on a bike tossing a plastic bag over the Peace Camp fence, with a needle and other artifacts hinting at substance abuse. They had not only decided to stop to pick it up, but also pop in to ask politely if anyone at the camp would happen to be using heroin or having other doings going on with the mentioned bag.

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Goes unmentioned that having such a bag tossed in is disturbing enough as it is: and such questions made many feel even more uncomfortable. After being told to leave the premises the MoD police in fact left, taking their peculiar questions with them.

Peace Campers do like their yards neat and nice. But since the existence of public bins is not clear to all those using public spaces and roads, one does sometimes see a bit too many candy wrappers and splintered bottles on roadsides.

Warheads and nuclear subs are big enough of a garbage problem in our neighborhood. Thus, Peace Campers decided to grab some garbage bags and head out for a little volunteer community work. We weren’t able to bin Trident this time, but at least there’s little less excuses for uninvited visits on the nearby roadsides now!

PS. Like anybody else who has dogs, we do not appreciate having sharp objects of any sort tossed around.

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PRESS RELEASE: Anti-nuclear activist form a sit-in blockade at HMNB Clyde: Off Trident – You can’t cover up a nuclear disaster!

UPDATE: 07.45 AM
The two remaining anti-nuclear activists have now been removed from the road leading to the south gate of HMNB Clyde and arrested by the MoD police. As far as we know, all three arrested activists are being taken to Clydebank and expected to be released later.

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Anti-nuclear activists interrupt the routines of HMNB Clyde: off Trident – you can’t cover up a nuclear disaster!

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This morning at 06.45 AM, four anti-nuclear activists blocked the ongoing morning traffic at the south gate of HMBB Clyde in Faslane. Action was recorded by activists from the nearby Faslane Peace Camp, a protest site dedicated to campaigning against nuclear weapons since 1982. The protesters interrupted the morning routines by walking into the line of traffic and pulling a banderol over the road.

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Three activists formed a sit-in blockade, shutting the entry and soon causing a traffic jam of estimated 300 cars. The undercover MoD police car and a regular police vehicle arrived to the scene soon. The protesters are being cleared from the road. Three arrests are to be expected.

The action is in response to the revelation of the Royal Navy misfiring of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile from the HMS Vengeance last June. Several sources reported that the missile, rather than heading towards Africa as intended, veered towards the Florida coast. There was also a discrepancy in the awareness of the event among elected officials who weeks later, voted in favour of renewing the missile defence system. It also emerged that Prime Minister Theresa May was briefed about the test and its results and did not inform MP’s.

Besides the political issue, there is also a technical issue as the Trident missile is identical for both the US and UK. In turn, most of the tests are carried out by the US Navy.

“How can UK’s nuclear destiny be claimed to be in safe hands when the country is surrendering its power structure to the Chinese, allowing the Americans to build these haphazard missiles and freely sharing vital secrets to a President whose views and opinions are as vague and inconsistent as they are bizarre and provocative”, says the activist Nick Timer, participating the action.

As a result of the parliamentary vote last July, the decision was made to spend £40 billion to renew Trident. According to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the figures could well be in excess of £200bn.

“With austerity hitting the majority of UK citizens, it causes immense concern that such sums of money continue to be ploughed into this bloated, ineffectual and unpopular white elephant. Indeed, we have to ask how effective a deterrent Trident is when the world’s superpowers can’t be assured that any retaliatory strike would even reach its intended target. Instead of heading towards a new arms race we need to simply find a way to scrap the nukes: and getting rid of Trident would set a good precedent“, says another activist Molly Garfield.

The Faslane Peace Camp is a permanent protest camp dedicated on campaigning and protesting against nuclear weapons. The camp, located next to the HMNB Clyde, is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year.

Contact:
faslanepeacecamp@protonmail.com
07376 188216

 

E-Cigarettes are more Dangerous than Nuclear Weapons

This week’s Parliamentary debate on Trident safety was preceded by a Peace Camp trespass on Tuesday night to highlight the total lack of security at dangerous sites immediately adjacent to the submarine base at Faslane.

At least one person climbed over a gate and had the unchallenged run of the fuel oil depot next door to HM Naval Base Clyde for around ten hours. A rainbow peace flag was flown from the top of the highest building in this area for the duration, but the trespass wasn’t detected until a participant wandered down to the main road and complained to a security guard at the refuelling jetties.

During the night, a Royal Navy tanke‌r cabin parked at a filling station was responsibly damaged to highlight the possibility of more dangerous sabotage. Staff attending to this were certainly concerned for the integrity of other vehicles and equipment at the facility, and were overheard referring to the possibility of ‘total disaster’ if they had been tampered with. In the event nothing else was touched, because come on.

Wednesday morning’s arrestee lost their boots and trousers to a forensic investigation into the matter. Meanwhile they’ve been charged with a breach of the peace which won’t stick; police claimed to have been required to ascend to an unsafe height, but never asked for cooperation before climbing up to meet the trespasser. Perhaps aware that it’s unlikely to go further, the Procurator Fiscal has since summoned up an historical charge instead, making
this person the only one we know of facing prosecution for April’s Big Blockade. O well.

This effort was intended to display the potential for great harm to come from actual bad guys being able to access such sites. The fuel depot and jetties are close to the main gate and sub pen of Faslane respectively, and any kind of fire or explosion in these areas would be hugely hazardous for the safety of the nuclear site. It’s exactly these kind of vulnerabilities which terrorists would identify and exploit.

The possibility of terrorist sabotage or infiltration was one of the concerns raised by William McNeilly in his recent report. The MoD’s response to this in advance of Thursday’s debate was fascinating. It seems they’re more worried about unauthorised use of electronic cigarettes, despite these being no safety hazard, than they are about any of the other matters identified by McNeilly. He’s currently still in their clutches at Devonport whilst the Ministry tries to convince him that he shouldn’t be worried about these things either.

So, Faslane isn’t secure, submarines aren’t safe, and trying to do something about either gets you locked up. Plus ca change

Faslane security breached again!

Security and safety concerns at Britain’s top nuclear sites were highlighted again as a protester was arrested last night having breached security at the Fuel Oil Depot adjacent to Faslane, home of the UK’s Trident submarines. The trespasser, a resident of the Faslane Peace Camp, was able to enter the facility undetected. The activist is currently in police custody and is expected to be released later today.

In a pre-written statement, the Peace Camper declared: “This action is designed to highlight the sheer vulnerability of the sites to those of malign intentions. Huge volumes of fuel are stored in a poorly-secured depot and fuel jetties, and a fire or explosion would cause chaos at the submarine base next door, for which fire is a major hazard.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky that these sites haven’t been targeted by terrorists who would surely identify and exploit such vulnerability. Rather than protecting us, Trident is a liability.”

The break-in comes ahead of Thursday’s Parliamentary debate on Trident safety following the revelations of poor safety and security practice disclosed by submariner William McNeilly. Among issues highlighted by Mc Neilly were the possibility of infiltration of Faslane by terrorists or hostile states.

Mass Destruction and Our Safety

We don’t usually like using this blog to pass remark without reference to recent actions and activities but feel that Able Seaman McNeilly’s disclosures were exceptional and worthy of comment.

Responsible rebel William McNeilly has now been transferred to the arguably-more-secure confines of the submarine base at Devonport. It still seems likely that he’ll face consequences under military law for challenging the complacency of the Ministry of Defence, which apparently files the health and wellbeing of the entire Submarine Service and the population of the West of Scotland under ‘disposable assets’. The Navy’s activated its public opinion masseurs and wheeled out a few old officers to dismiss McNeilly’s revelations as the rash and unqualified hearsay of an excitable young man. Whilst his account is colourful, even florid in parts, and contrasts severely with the exceptionally level and dry tone of official disclosures, this shouldn’t count against its content. Instead, it’s indicative of the inevitable introspection associated with side-stepping the culture in which he was immersed, a culture of duty and obedience which Milgram and others have shown to be capable of overriding all humane instincts.

We’ve seen further evidence of this culture in the response to our Facebook posts on McNeilly’s detention. A fair shower of Senior Service personnel queued up to attack the whistle-blower and his sympathisers. Apart from puerile slurs, these posts were thematically similar, decrying McNeilly’s actions as a betrayal of the Service and suggesting that he should have knuckled down and tholed the operational conditions on his boat. None of these posts were from submariners. Indeed, one or two brave souls broke ranks to claim similar experience in their time aboard British submarines.

For the benefit of those who are confused, let’s make it clear that there is a huge difference in taking risks with a surface vessel and doing so with a submarine. The implications of an accident for the crew, other shipping, and the general public are worlds apart. If there is a fire, explosion, power, or equipment failure on a surface boat, the crew and nearby shipping may be endangered but it will be possible to summon support and abandon ship if necessary. This is not the case with a submarine on patrol. A submarine which cannot surface cannot evacuate, and the dangers of fire and explosion are far greater when minute-to-minute survival is dependent on a limited air supply and the integrity of the hull. Bearing both a nuclear reactor and multiple nuclear missiles, a Vanguard-class submarine in any kind of difficulty is an enormous liability which could result in a man-made disaster without precedent. The burden of responsibility upon the crew was amply demonstrated during the Cold War, when the crew of Soviet nuclear submarine K-19 sacrificed their lives to prevent a nuclear meltdown in the North Atlantic.

With regard to the specific incidents detailed by McNeilly, disarmament campaigners were immediately able to endorse his account as credible as we’ve heard all this before. Particularly in the period when Trident was introduced, staff within Operation Relentless were forthcoming with concerns regarding its operational safety, and we’ve been privy to unattributable, undocumented reports of incidents and bad practice of a very similar nature to those of McNeilly. What’s unprecedented is for someone with such recent patrol experience to be so forthright and use their name and access to validate what would otherwise be mere anecdotal claims.

The MoD’s been particularly quick to rubbish some of McNeilly’s most fearsome assertions — that alarm consoles were ignored and equipment abused in the missile compartments aboard the submarine on which he served. Unfortunately their own Freedom of Information Act disclosures regarding nuclear weapons road transports describe exactly the same practice; alarms triggered by temperature sensors in the business end of trucks carrying assembled Trident warheads on UK motorways were disregarded, along with the safety of the public across mainland Britain. Additionally, knowing that metal tools are prohibited in the Explosive Handling Jetty at RNAD Coulport which loads warheads onto submarines makes descriptions of missile compartments being used as weight rooms the more troubling.

With regard to security concerns, at least two incidents in the last year or so have seen undisguised Peace Campers exploring Faslane at their leisure — in one case entering the Trident area, in another reaching the foredeck of the Royal Navy’s newest submarine at its berth. The nuclear convoy was also peacefully attacked, and held up for an hour near the shores of Loch Lomond. These actions were designed to disrupt and impede the deployment of nuclear weapons from Faslane and Coulport, but also provide sobering evidence of the vulnerability of Britain’s Bomb. It’s chilling to reflect on how events like this would have panned out if the bases or the transports had been targeted by terrorists careless of their own lives and others’.

Where we part company with William McNeilly is when he describes Britain’s nuclear weapons as an historically-necessary evil. In fact, far from a deterrent against Soviet nuclear attack, the UK’s nuclear arsenal has been a crutch supporting its failing place in the world. Rather than a weapon of last resort, held back to avert the unthinkable, each generation of the Bomb has been in constant use, as a gun is in use when it is pointed at someone’s head. Against the mass of public opinion, which abhors nuclear strike even in retaliation against an enemy’s use of weapons of mass destruction, the British establishment has entrenched its interest with the constant threat of genocide in the longest-running campaign in UK military history. Along the way, they have sunk enormous public resources of finance, skills, and personnel, at great risk of both accidental disaster and the provocation of nuclear war. Meanwhile, the need to be seen to have the will to use this weapon has poisoned any chance of conciliatory diplomacy and a relationship with the rest of the world which moves beyond the exploitation of the colonial era.

McNeilly’s not too interested in geopolitics. What he’s worried about is part of the West of Scotland being obliterated, or his crewmates dying in a radiochemically-toxic accident, for the want of some care and responsibility. His concerns are well worthy of reflection as we approach Parliamentary endorsement of the Trident Successor programme next year. Whether the overseers of Operation Relentless have demonstrated the due care and attention to merit another £100,000,000,000 being thrown at them certainly seems open to question.

The Secret Nuclear Threat

Able Seaman William McNeilly is currently a prisoner of conscience in Royal Navy police custody at a military site in Scotland (probably Faslane, his ‘home’ port as a sailor on HMS Victorious). He’s a political prisoner, jailed by a nuclear-addicted government for trying to stop the West of Scotland disappearing in a cloud of radioactive dust and protect the wellbeing of his crewmates and comrades. You’re encouraged to come through to tell the MoD what you think about this, or call them (some numbers are on our Facebook).

Meanwhile, here’s a copy of McNeilly’s report, ‘The Secret Nuclear Threat’ for your convenience. William McNeilly Secret Nuclear Threat 120515