24 thoughts on “Stop British Trident nuclear weapons, February 27 demonstration

  1. Monday 22nd
    posted by Morning Star in Features

    By Nick Wright

    BRITAIN’S foreign and defence policy operates like a McDonald’s franchise. The brand and overall strategy is in the hands of the US principals while the operational costs and attendant risks are borne by the franchisee.

    The Golden Arch of this policy is Trident — Britain’s “independent” nuclear deterrent — hugely expensive submarines, the construction of which has tied up our most skilled workers in unproductive labour for decades; and missiles, supplied and controlled from the US.

    The communications and targeting infrastructure is owned and controlled by the US. Set aside the question of which credible enemy this system actually deters from attacking our island (and for what possible purpose)?

    Today, the question raised by the US presidential election is whether or not a British government could deploy — or refuse to deploy — Trident without, say, for argument’s sake, Donald Trump’s say so?

    A certain absence of intellectual precision marks the arguments put forward by Tory ministers and their co-thinkers in the Parliamentary Labour Party that this extraordinarily expensive system is central to our defence.

    Thus far our MPs have been told that “our” Trident missiles are designed and manufactured in the United States by Lockheed Martin and that, apart from those actually on board the submarines, the remaining missiles are stored and maintained at King’s Bay, Georgia.

    Refitting the submarines themselves takes place at Devonport, Plymouth, by DML, a subsidiary majority owned by Halliburton. Thus British taxpayers continue to supplement the $39.5 billion profit Dick Cheney’s firm has already made from the Iraq war.

    We are not simply a cash cow for the US military-industrial complex. Throughout the capitalist West’s cold war confrontation with European socialism, Britain was regarded by Pentagon planners as an unsinkable aircraft carrier.

    Today a better analogy might be that we are an expendable drone. Not only do we lack control over Trident but the “first-strike” capacity of the US nuclear force, which depends on a communications infrastructure in Britain (and British sovereign bases in Cyprus) makes us a target.

    When Britain’s dull-witted Foreign Secretary suggested that far from making it more secure, North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons actually made it a target, he unconsciously made a compelling case for our country’s unilateral nuclear disarmament.

    There may be even more compelling technical reasons for ending this enormously wasteful vanity project.

    As the far-from-dull-witted Emily Thornberry has pointed out, with drones in the air and drones underwater, the sea may not be a very secure hiding place any longer.

    And when every teenager possesses a smartphone with more processing power than when Trident missiles were first conceived it may no longer be possible to future-proof such cumbersome weapons systems.

    There are real risks of conflict as the US pivots east to confront an economically insurgent China but, with the US State Department ramping up tension in Ukraine and Nato advancing to the borders of Russia, Europe is an increasingly dangerous place.

    Channel Four’s Deutschland 83 series casts a revealing light over the contradictions between the way many Europeans saw their interests and the US priorities set by the Pentagon and the State Department.

    We can ignore the idiotic cold war stereotypes which suggest that East Germany’s intelligence operatives were sinister functionaries willing to sacrifice their family or that they needed to be drugged and blackmailed before they would consent to infiltrating the West.

    The mise en scene is of a socialist bloc genuinely worried that the deployment of US missiles close to the borders of European socialism meant a first-strike attack was likely. And that in West Germany the growing realisation was that such a US initiative would result in Germany becoming a nuclear wasteland.

    East Germany’s real-life Stasi spymasters were able to mobilise a large number of people — both GDR and West German citizens — motivated by political principle, an anti-fascist and anti-war ideological tradition and simple fear.

    Arguably one such, Rainer Rupp, who worked on missile deployment in Nato headquarters, helped avert a nuclear war when he was able to transmit to the Stasi Hauptverwaltung Aufklarung the insight that the 1983 Able Archer Nato manoeuvres were not, despite appearances, preparations for a pre-emptive strike.

    Real tensions continue to exist between what are seen as the common interests of Europeans and US policy.

    The US drive to effect regime change in Ukraine through a putsch brought some of these tensions to the surface.

    “Fuck the EU” was the comment caught in a recorded phone conversation between Barack Obama’s neocon Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland when EU functionaries showed hesitation over the US strategy. Even Angela Merkel said this was “totally unacceptable.”

    Of course, it is not only to the US that sovereign control of our foreign and defence policy is in hock.

    Britain’s membership of the EU carries with it obligations under the Lisbon Treaty to participate in the the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.

    Under the mutual defence clause created under the Lisbon Treaty, Britain could be obliged to come to the military aid of our Nato “partner,” Erdogan’s Turkey, if his patronage of his jihadi surrogates in Syria and Iraq resulted in a further escalation of armed clashes with the Russian air force.

    The establishment of new military command centres in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania shows how far the integration of Nato and the EU’s war fighting capacity has gone.

    The EU’s collective subordination to US strategic priorities is demonstrated by the fact that six Nato countries, including Britain, are now committed to the high-speed mobilisation of 25,000 troops on Russia’s borders within a week.

    Disentangling our country from these structures would be an act of genuine popular sovereignty.

    Nick Wright is a member of the Communist Party international commission and blogs at 21centurymanifesto.com This article is based on his report to the CP political committee last week.



  2. Tuesday 23rd February 2016

    posted by Will Stone in Britain

    Thornberry asks military experts to face facts

    EMILY THORNBERRY asked defence experts yesterday to think seriously about whether the hugely expensive Trident nuclear weapons system was fit to face up to the threats of the future.

    The shadow defence secretary highlighted the need for Britain to adapt to “a rapidly changing environment” to keep safe.

    Addressing members of defence and security think tank the Royal United Services Institute, she said Britain’s nuclear weapons strategy must be pragmatic not ideological.

    “We must ask ourselves whether the cost of four new submarines — which is more than an entire year’s defence budget — will prove sufficient value for money in the long term, especially if it has to come at the expense of other crucial investments in our defences,” Ms Thornberry said.

    “Moreover, we also need to consider the scope of the technological advances we are likely to see over the next 20 or 30 years, and we must ask whether, if we are going to commit ourselves to the current platform for the next three decades, we can really be sure that it is future-proof.”

    Ms Thornberry, who has been tasked with leading Labour’s defence review to determine the party’s policy on Trident, pointed out the recent threat from the Islamic State and new technology like social media and cyber-attacks.

    “In the 20th century, we usually thought of threats in terms of hostile governments in foreign countries,” she said.

    “In the 21st, we are more likely to be kept awake at night by the possibility of seemingly random attacks by small groups or individuals, acting on their own initiative and not under the direction of any state or authority.”

    She stressed the importance of “tackling the root causes of violent extremism” instead of simply dealing with its consequences.

    “Unlike traditional state-based threats, terrorism may be largely invisible until it is too late,” she said.

    “It does not respect international borders, it is harder to predict, and it is harder to trace once an attack has occurred.”

    Ms Thornberry invited the 180-year-old defence institute to contribute to Labour’s defence review.



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  6. Friday 4th March 2016

    posted by Paddy McGuffin in Britain

    Minister accused of ‘flouting democracy’ with £642m spend

    MICHAEL FALLON was accused of flouting democracy yesterday after announcing a further £642 million spend on Trident submarines.

    The Defence Secretary told MPs in a written statement that he is pressing ahead with work to replace the four ageing Vanguard-class submarines.Parliament is due to vote on replacing the wasteful weapons system later this year.

    The announcement included investment on “long lead” items for the first of the new boats and funding for facilities at the shipyard in Barrow.

    Other elements of the programme expected to be covered by the announcement include work on the missile compartments which will house the nuclear weapons.

    Mr Fallon is expected to use his appearance at the Scottish Tory conference in Edinburgh today to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s outspoken opposition to Trident replacement.

    CND general secretary Kate Hudson condemned the move as undemocratic and nonsensical.

    “I ask Michael Fallon: ‘What is the point of a parliamentary vote on Trident if the government’s going to spend millions on replacement anyway?’ ” she said.

    “This is completely unacceptable. This is about huge amounts of money being spent on out-of-date technology that will be redundant by the time it is built.

    “There is a growing body of evidence which shows that Trident is vulnerable to cyber warfare and attacks by underwater drones.

    “The government appears to be burying its head in the sand — stuck in a 1980s mind-set that we are a great power fighting in the cold war.”

    Nicola Sturgeon insisted during First Minister’s Questions yesterday that Faslane could continue as a naval base without nuclear weapons.

    Her comments come after the GMB union warned it is “pie in the sky” to believe the current highly paid and skilled jobs can be maintained

    .Last week the union held a special conference on the issue in Newcastle where members vowed to campaign to fight to keep the Trident replacement to protect jobs in the industry.

    But Scotland’s First Minister insisted that the £167 billion spent on renewing Trident could be put towards supporting conventional defence jobs and public services.



  7. Monday 7th March 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    by Our News Desk

    TRIDENT safety fears surfaced yesterday as previously confidential documents revealed that 20 workers were exposed to radiation at the Faslane nuclear base.

    Safety was breached in August 2012 when workers repaired a leaking tank on a Trident nuclear weapons-bearing submarine at the same time that a nearby reactor was undergoing trials.

    The incident only came to light when Office for Nuclear Regulation documents were obtained via a freedom of information request.

    The regulator’s report identified “poor communication” and “a lack of understanding of the magnitude of the hazards present when operating a reactor” as contributing factors.

    “There was a prolonged and repeated failure of the ship’s staff to understand and control the radiological hazard that they were creating,” it said.

    It is just one of four potentially dangerous safety failings documented in the files.

    In December 2013 a worker removing grilles from an external tank inadvertently exposed himself to a small dose of radiation when he stuck his head inside to take a look.

    The Ministry of Defence said no-one was harmed in the incidents and insisted it has “measures put in place to prevent such incidents from occurring again.”

    But SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara said the repeated safety breaches were “alarming,” as the Tories attempt to renew the nuclear submarines.

    “The MoD — once again — stands accused of a very poor approach to radiation safety at the Faslane base,” he said.

    “When it comes to protecting our armed forces personnel, the contractors working at the base, as well as the wider community, nuclear safety must be paramount.”



  8. Thursday 21st
    posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

    THE STUC voted to maintain its anti-Trident position on the last day of congress yesterday, voting down a GMB Scotland bid to change its historic opposition to renewal of the nuclear weapon system.

    Moving the motion in support of a Trident successor programme, GMB delegate Drew Duffy warned that thousands of well-paid highly skilled and unionised jobs were under threat.

    He said that that there was “a danger of wishing away jobs on a point of principle.”

    Mr Duffy condemned the “empty rhetoric of defence diversification” as there had been “no credible or meaningful policy to articulate what it actually means.”
    He warned that there were no clear plans for who would employ these workers and whether pay, terms and conditions would be matched.

    Mr Duffy dismissed claims that the cost of the nuclear weapons system’s renewal had created a shortfall in public spending, arguing that “austerity is responsible for cuts to public services and not Trident.”

    However, Unison delegate Jane Carolan said that while her union was committed to defending its members, it also had a history of fighting for “international peace and solidarity.”

    She pointed out that funding for Trident “competes directly with public spending” and stands “against our priorities as a movement,” branding it an “extravagance that will destroy our public services.”

    FBU delegate Denise Christie attacked GMB’s position of defending jobs at all costs, saying that her own union had campaigned for fire prevention because “lives and public safety are more important than job protectionism.”

    She said there are fewer fires now, while firefighters’ roles have changed and diversified.
    Delegates passed a motion reaffirming the STUC’s opposition to Trident and called on the general council to revisit a proposal to set up a trade union group to work with CND.

    This would incorporate defence workers’ unions so that defence diversification can be properly planned and resourced.

    Responding to the debate, general council member Lynn Henderson said: “Spending billions on nuclear is and always has been incompatible with the aims of the Scottish trade union movement.”



  9. Friday 13th May 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    CND’s statistics ‘prove missile is immoral’

    PLANS to force through Trident replacement faced an angry backlash yesterday after the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament revealed the cost will exceed £200 billion.

    CND calculations based on official statistics, statements in Parliament and previous costs put the price-tag of renewing our lethal array of nuclear weapons at £205bn — without accounting for the Ministry of Defence’s habit of exceeding its budgets.

    Scottish National Party defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara MP said the ever-escalating cost showed the project was “staggering and out of control” even before Parliament has voted on whether to go ahead.

    Britain’s nukes are based on the Clyde and there are no government plans to change this if Parliament decides to renew the programme, even though doing so is opposed by the Scottish government as well as 57 of the country’s 59 MPs.

    Mr O’Hara said the soaring costs showed replacing the “immoral” missiles was “obscene and completely redundant,” vowing that the SNP would resist at every opportunity.

    And Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the “eye-watering” figure was a “colossal waste of resources” and would make Britain less safe.

    “Nuclear missiles have the potential to cause devastation and death on an unimaginable scale, but they do nothing to hinder lone gunmen or extremists.

    “Their very presence — and the transport of nuclear warheads on our roads — presents not only a target for terrorism but a continued risk of accidents linked to human error or technical failure.”

    Labour MP Clive Lewis told the Star he hoped any new information would be considered in the defence policy review being led by shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry.

    “We know there are concerns around cost and accountability,” he said.

    Labour has previously supported renewing Trident but leader Jeremy Corbyn is a veteran campaigner against nuclear weapons and a vice-president of CND.



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