Against nuclear weapons, on our way to Trump in Brussels


This video says about itself:

Thousands protest Trump’s Brussels visit

24 May 2017

Thousands of demonstrators holding marches in Brussels, Belgium under the slogan ‘Trump not Welcome‘ held anti-NATO and antiwar signs to protest the US president attending a NATO summit on Thursday. RT’s Anastasia Churkina reports from the protest.

That video is one of various videos on that big demonstration in Brussels. There will be more videos, and photos in my blog posts to come on the Brussels demonstration.

However, before arriving there, we had to travel by bus on that 24 May.

In the bus to the anti-Trump demonstration were people from various parts of the Netherlands, from, eg, the peace movement Oorlog is geen Oplossing (war is not a solution), who have a report and photos on their blog, and the Socialist Party. There was Socialist Party MP Ms Sadet Karabulut, the daughter of Kurdish Turkish immigrant workers. There was a refugee from Somalia, now chairman of the Deventer branch of the Socialist Party. He said this demonstration was important, as wars don’t bring solutions. Eg, in his native Somalia, where the United States armed forces invaded in 1993, proclaiming good intentions; but the results were a chain reaction of bloodbaths in Somalia. He said Bernie Sanders should have won the presidential elections in the USA.

There was a member of the Socialist Party’s young people’s organisation from Zeist town. There was a Socialist Party man from Oldeberkoop village in Friesland province. And two women from Sneek town, also in Friesland. There was someone with a T shirt, saying ‘Stop arming Saudi Arabia‘.

The bus crossed the Lek river bridge. At 12:35, it crossed the Maas river bridge.

We picked up some fellow demonstrators in Den Bosch city. We passed a fountain with dragon sculptures in the city center; and a <a href=”https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/giraffes-on-video/”>giraffe statue, modeled on the way famous local painter Hieronymus Bosch depicted that animal, in a city park.

Then, we arrived at the gate of United States nuclear weapons are there; many times there have been protests against them.

These weapons have always been dangerous. Now that Trump is president, they have become even more dangerous.

Our protest that day involved wool (a bit like similar anti-nuclear weapons protests in Britain).

We made a a woolly colourful ‘spider’s web‘ across the access road to the base, blocking the gate.

Volkel, 24 May 2017

This photo shows the woolly spider’s web, with a sign saying ‘Make peace! No war!’, and banners saying ‘Take these nuclear weapons away’ and ‘War is no solution’.

Volkel spider's web, 24 May 2017

Police was present, but did not arrest anyone.

We also hung the banner saying ‘Take these nuclear weapons away’ and other pro-peace banners on the base’s fences.

A women with a Trump face mask on held a spoof ‘Trump‘ speech.

Our bus rode on. Near Eindhoven city there was graffiti about local football club PSV on viaducts. Near Antwerp in Belgium was graffiti depicting ladybugs on viaducts. And also a big traffic jam.

Finally south of Antwerp, we passed Breendonk, during World War II a nazi concentration camp.

We arrived at Brussel Noord railway station, where the demonstration would start. Stay tuned!

‘Nuclear war would kill everyone’


This film trailer video from the USA says about itself:

Psychotic Air Force general unleashes ingenious foolproof and irrevocable scheme sending bombers to attack Russia. U.S. President works with Soviet premier in a desperate effort to save the world. (Original Title – Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb) © 1963, renewed 1991 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Would the present United States President Trump be as eager as the fictional US president in that old movie to save the world from nuclear annihilation?

By Bryan Dyne and Barry Grey:

“In a nuclear war between the US and Russia, everybody in the world would die”

Nuclear experts speak on the dangers of war between the US and Russia

15 April 2017

Since the April 6 cruise missile strike by the Trump administration against a Syrian airbase, tensions between the United States and the European powers and Russia are at their highest level since the cold war. The rhetoric from the US and its allies has centered on defending the unprovoked attack while Russia has responded by increasing its military support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The most recent escalation of these tensions is the dropping of a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) by the US military in Afghanistan. A MOAB is a 21,600 pound bomb, the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the US military’s arsenal. It had never before been used in combat.

While the official target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex in Nangarhar Province, the real aim was to demonstrate to Iran, Russia, Syria, North Korea, China and any other nation that gets in the way of American imperialism’s global interests that there are no limits to the violence the US military is prepared to unleash on those it considers its enemies.

What is striking about the media coverage of the increasingly acute geopolitical crisis is the lack of discussion–whether it be the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News, MSNBC or CNN–of the consequences of a nuclear exchange. The next step up from a MOAB is a low-yield tactical thermonuclear warhead, a weapon that is at least an order of magnitude more destructive. Yet no one in the corporate media has asked: What would happen if such weapons were used in Syria, Iran or North Korea, let alone Russia or China?

This raises two further questions: How close is the current situation to one in which there is a clash and military escalation between the US and Russia that leads to nuclear war? How many people would die in such a conflict?

To shed light on these question, the World Socialist Web Site spoke separately with two experts on the dangers of nuclear war, Steven Starr and Greg Mello.

Steven Starr

Steven Starr is a senior scientist at Physicians for Social Responsibility and an associate with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His articles on the environmental dangers of nuclear war have appeared in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the publication of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies.

World Socialist Web Site: In your opinion, how real is the danger of a military conflict between the US and Russia over Syria or with China over North Korea?

Steven Starr: I think there is a very significant danger of that happening. The Russians are allied with [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad and have been beating ISIS. They’ve won back Aleppo and it’s made the US media and political establishment hysterical, because that’s not how they wanted the war to end. Trump campaigned for a detente with Russia, for a non-interventionist policy. When [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was in Turkey, he said that Assad could stay. But five days after that, the US launched cruise missiles at Syria.

As a result of the attack of 59 cruise missiles by the US on a Syrian airbase, we’ve basically destroyed relations with Russia. We’ve crossed the Rubicon. Russia has suspended the 2015 aviation safety memorandum that had provided 24/7 communication channels aimed at preventing dangerous encounters between US and Russian aircraft. This will give the Russians in Syria the right to decide whether to shoot or not to shoot at US planes. The Russians already own the Syrian airspace and they have stated that they are going to increase Syrian air defense capacity. What happens when US planes start getting shot down by the Russians?

WSWS: One thing worth contrasting is the completely dishonest and false reporting by the corporate media and the scale of the consequences of the policies being pursued. As bad as it is to pump out propaganda on behalf of the American political establishment, when you are pursuing a policy that will result in the destruction of the planet, it assumes a new dimension.

SS: From my perspective, the international “news” published by the papers of record has mostly become propaganda, especially after the events in Ukraine and Crimea in 2014. While you always expect bias in each country’s news reporting, Western media no longer seems constrained by the need to provide hard evidence to support their arguments and allegations. There has been no investigation about the chemical attack in Syria–Trump launched the missile strike before any investigation could be carried out.

The CIA is deeply involved in this process. There are only six megacorporations that control 90 percent of US and Western media, and they do not publish stories that are contrary to Washington’s official party line. Censorship by omission with no dissent permitted is the defining characteristic of what we hear today. The use of “official sources” without supporting factual evidence creates a false narrative that is used to support US military actions.

As a result, there has been a deafening silence in the media about what the consequences of what a war with Russia might mean. When have you heard mainstream media have any discussion about the consequences of a nuclear war with Russia?

WSWS: What would happen if there was another US attack on Syria, perhaps following another manufactured chemical weapons attack?

SS: The situation could escalate very quickly, especially since relations between the US and Moscow have deteriorated to their worst state in history. One report I’ve read is that there are plans to deploy 150,000 US troops to Syria. Given that there are Russian and Iranian troops in Syria (at the request of the Syrian government), it would be an incredibly stupid decision for the US to send large military forces to Syria. It would be very hard to avoid WWIII.

If the US and Russia get into a direct military conflict, eventually one side or the other will start to lose. They either then admit defeat or they escalate. And when that happens, the possibility of using nuclear weapons becomes higher. Once nukes start going off, escalation to full-scale nuclear war could happen very quickly.

WSWS: How catastrophic would that be?

SS: The US and Russia each have about 1,000 strategic nuclear weapons of at least 100 kilotons, all ready to launch within two to 15 minutes. Since it takes about nine minutes for a missile from a US submarine to hit Moscow, this means that the Russian government could retaliate. And these are only the missiles that are on a hair trigger alert.

The US and Russia have 3,500 deployed and operational strategic nuclear weapons (each with a minimum explosive power of 100,000 tons of TNT) that they can detonate within an hour. They have another 4,600 nuclear weapons in reserve, ready for use. There are about 300 cities in the US and about 200 cities in Russia with populations greater than 100,000 people. Given how many nuclear weapons there are, it’s a large chance that most large cities would be hit.

Probably 30 percent of US and Russian populations would be killed in the first hour. A few weeks after the attack, radioactive fallout would kill another 50 percent or more.

Nuclear winter, one of the long-term environmental consequences of nuclear war, would probably cause most people on the planet to die of starvation within a couple years of a large US-Russian nuclear war. The global stratospheric smoke layer produced by nuclear firestorms would block most sunlight from reaching the surface of earth, producing Ice Age weather conditions that would last for at least 10 years.

Another rarely discussed consequence of nuclear war is high altitude electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. A large nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude (100-200 miles high) will produce an enormous pulse of electrical energy, which will destroy electronic circuits in an area of tens of thousands of square miles below the blast. A single detonation over the US East Coast would destroy the grid and cause every nuclear power plant affected by EMP to melt down. Imagine 60 Fukushimas happening at the same time in the US.

Greg Mello

Greg Mello is the secretary and executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, an organization that has researched the dangers of nuclear war and advocated for disarmament since 1989. His research and analysis have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and Issues in Science and Technology.

WSWS: What role have the Democrats played in the increased tensions between the US and Russia over Syria?

Gregg Mello: Even as recently as 2013, when there was a fake chemical weapon attack in Syria, I don’t think the Democrats were as “on board” with war as they are today. But now, as a result of the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the Russia-baiting and the neo-McCarthyite hyperbole has really ratcheted up, marginalizing even those within the party who express any amount of skepticism about the official story, such as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. And this is someone who went to Syria to find out what was really going on. She found that the majority of people in Syria want the US to stop funding the rebels and are happy with the Assad government’s efforts to oust Al Qaeda and ISIS. But she’s being silenced.

WSWS: Could you speak on some of the corporate interests involved in this?

GM: Fifty-nine cruise missiles cost a lot of money. Each missile used costs, I guess, between $1 and $1.6 million, so the strike as a whole cost between $60 to $100 million. That doesn’t include the cost of the deployment of the ships and the other elements that make up a strike. It’s probably twice as much, if you include those elements. In terms of the missiles, if they are replaced, that’s income for whatever company replaces them.

Companies also get free advertising from such a strike. I saw the clip from MSNBC’s Brian Williams, who praised the missiles using the Leonard Cohen line, “I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.” That’s a priceless advertising clip, especially when the same images and videos of the missiles are on primetime news and across the Internet. I’m sure their stock values, literally and figuratively, went up.

But even this is peanuts compared to the really high dollar amounts that come from continued tensions with Russia and the US government’s need to dominate the world. We’re talking not about millions of dollars, but billions–really, trillions. To maintain the idea that we should be in every part of the world, the US spends on all components of national defense about $1 trillion a year. So it really adds up quickly.

And the US military just got an increase to its base budget that is comparable to Russia’s entire defense budget. In the US, we spend way more money on the military than all of our potential adversaries combined. That’s where the real money is.

We get NATO to buy the latest versions of military equipment, compatible with ours. All of those arms sales plus our own national purchases are worth trillions. That’s what this strike upholds. A military spending pattern on a colossal scale.

This goes along with the geopolitical questions you mentioned.

WSWS: Could you elaborate on the geopolitical questions?

GM: Well, Trump has said that we won’t go into Syria, but there’s no consistent policy on this. Let’s assume there is another strike, will it involve Russia? Will it kill Russians? What will Putin or any other Russian leader feel he needs to do then?

Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton and New York University, noted that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called American and Russian relations “ruined.” And Medvedev is not a hardliner against the West. For him to say that, you can only imagine what the generals and other hardliners are whispering in Putin’s other ear.

If we make another strike, either with a US airplane or a “coalition” airplane, it could easily be shot down by the high end anti-aircraft weapons that Syria and Russia have deployed. This would lead to an outcry from the US political establishment to do more, to double down on our mistake. All in all, it’s difficult to see how an air campaign could have a decisive effect on the war in Syria without creating an extreme risk of escalation between the US and Russia.

Geopolitically, the situation in Syria has gone so far towards Assad remaining in power and the terrorists being pushed out that a serious US attack on Syria would either fail, or else it would really damage Russian interests, humiliate Russia and kill her soldiers along with Assad’s, and therefore tilt the balance toward WWIII.

The idea that the poisonings in Khan Sheikhoun occurred because of chemical weapons or precursors released by a conventional munitions attack on an Al Qaeda weapons warehouse or workshop, which is the report of the Russian government, makes the most sense given everything we know. The notion that Assad or some rogue element in his army dropped chemical weapons on his own people, just when he is winning militarily and politically, is ridiculous.

Now we see that the US does not want the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons involved in an investigation of the attack. Really?

The OPCW is the world’s policeman for chemical weapons, something the US helped create. They got the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for verifying that all of Syria’s chemical weapons had been destroyed. They destroyed them on a US ship. In this case and in every case, the OPCW would carefully study evidence gathered with chain of custody procedures at an accredited laboratory, all of which are essential when matters of war and peace are at stake. It’s the same way you’d collect evidence in a high-profile murder case.

This hasn’t happened for the most recent chemical weapon attack–and the US doesn’t want it to happen. Instead, the US has recently issued a statement of the “facts,” a piece of paper claiming to be from all 17 intelligence agencies, but without letterheads or signatures, which uses weasel words like “we have confidence.” There is no indication what agencies have signed off on this or what actual evidence has been collected. Moreover, an attack like this takes a few weeks to investigate, not a few days.

This all is happening because Syria is one of the more important crossroads between the hydrocarbons of the Middle East and European customers. If you’re going to get oil and natural gas from Qatar to Europe without going through Iran, you have to have pipelines that go through Syria. This is especially important if you don’t want Europe to be dependent on natural gas from Russia, if you want to prevent Germany and Russia and the rest of Asia from further integration economically. The US government does not want Europe dependent on hydrocarbons supplied by Russia or Iran.

So, really, Syria is a proxy war between the US and other regional powers–Iran, allied with Russia–for control over Europe’s gas and oil. In addition, Israel wants control of the Golan Heights in order to drill in that region.

It’s also worth considering that China’s oil production seems to have peaked. The world’s net exports of oil–that is, the oil that can be bought on the international market–are starting to very slowly decline.

Since a barrel of oil will produce more value in countries such as China and India because the workers are paid so much less, China can always outbid the US and Europe for oil. Given a free market, they will. Alongside this problem, the oil-producing countries are using more oil internally as their populations and economies grow, which will inevitably produce a crisis in the availability and affordability of oil. That crisis will be upon us in the 2020s and it implies the potential for great power conflicts over these resources.

You didn’t have this during the Cold War because the US and Russia each had enough resources, as did our allies. But now, the cheap oil is running out and there are no cheap replacements. The potential for conflict, including between nuclear-armed powers, is rising.

WSWS: How many people would die during the first day of such a war?

GM: To a first approximation, in a nuclear war between the US and Russia, everybody in the world would die. Some people in the southern hemisphere might survive, but probably not even them.

Even a couple of nuclear weapons could end the United States as a government and an economy. It wouldn’t take a great deal to destroy the “just in time” supply chains, the financial markets and the Internet. The whole system is very fragile, especially with respect to nuclear weapons. Even in a somewhat limited nuclear war, say a war where only ICBM silos and airfields were targeted, there would be so much fallout from the ICBM fields alone that much of the Midwest would be wiped out, including places like Chicago.

Then there is the problem of the nuclear power plants, which have stored within them and their spent fuel pools and storage areas truly vast amounts of radioactivity. If their electricity supply is interrupted, these plants are quite susceptible to fires and meltdowns, as we saw at Fukushima.

Keep in mind that nuclear war is not one or two Hiroshima-sized bombs. The imagination cannot encompass nuclear war. Nuclear war means nuclear winter. It means the collapse of very fragile electronic, financial, governmental, administrative systems that keep everyone alive. We’d be lucky to reboot in the early 19th century. And if enough weapons are detonated, the collapse of the Earth’s ozone layer would mean that every form of life that has eyes could be blinded. The combined effects of a US-Russian nuclear war would mean that pretty much every terrestrial mammal, and many plants, would become extinct. There would be a dramatic biological thinning.

I think many parts of the US military just don’t get it. I’ve talked to people on the National Security Council and they have the idea that Russia will back down. I begged them, about 18 months ago, to bring in some Cold War era veteran diplomats from the realist school, people like former ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, to try and convince them that Russia won’t just do what we want, that they have their own legitimate interests that we would do well to understand and take into consideration.

WSWS: What are your thoughts on how to deal with the problem of nuclear war?

I would say that the effort to decrease inequality in the world is at the core of dealing with the threat of nuclear war. We have to get the military-industrial-financial complex off people’s backs. If you have so much power concentrated in so few hands, and have such high levels of inequality, the people in power are blinded by their position. They are insulated from society’s problems. So gross inequality–economic and especially political–leads to sort of political stupidity. It could lead to annihilation. The ignorant masses are not the problem. It’s the ignorance and hubris at the top. It always is.

John Pilger’s The Coming War on China, which was shown last year in Britain and recently screened in several Australian and New Zealand cinemas, is about the US military encirclement of China and the danger of a catastrophic war between the two nuclear-armed powers. The feature-length documentary will be broadcast on Australia’s state-funded SBS network on April 16: here.

Hiroshima nuclear bomb survivors tour Britain for a global ban


Hiroshima survivors

Hiroshima bomb survivors tour Britain for a global ban: here.

CIA against British pro-peace women


This video from Britain is called 1980s Greenham Common, Women Protest for Peace, CND, Police.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

The ‘punks and crazies’ of Greenham

Friday 3rd March 2017

SOLOMON HUGHES trawls through recently released secret CIA ‘intelligence’ documents which reveal how the 1980s Greenham Common peace camp terrified the US spooks

WHAT did the CIA think about the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common?

This January the CIA made thousands of formerly secret papers available via its website. Some answer this question.

In short, the CIA knew the Greenham protesters had a big effect but they also thought they were “punks and crazies” who freaked out the intelligence men. The CIA documents are generally “secret” analysis reports rather than records of actual CIA operations.

The ones we’re concerned with here cover the “new cold war” of the 1980s. In 1983 president Ronald Reagan’s US started putting cruise and Pershing nuclear missiles in Europe, aimming them at Russia.

In the documents, the CIA refers these intermediate range nuclear forces as INF, which becomes the codename for cruise and Pershing throughout the documents.

Big peace movements arose across Europe among people who didn’t want the US’s new cold war being fought on European soil. Those living in the “intermediate range” didn’t want it nuked.

As I noted in January, the US government’s spymasters didn’t like the peace movements but they did understand these movements were powerful enough to make profound changes.

In a 1984 paper, the CIA writes: “We believe that increased democratisation of defence policymaking in western European countries will be the peace movement’s lasting legacy. Western European governments can no longer make defence policy primarily on the basis of expert advice.

“They feel compelled to take account of public concern about the escalating arms race and to refute accusations from opposition and peace movement spokesmen that they are subservient to the United States. They have already been putting more emphasis on arms control and less emphasis on defence programmes than Washington would prefer.”

In the end, the arrival of reforming Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov thawed the new cold war that had spurred the 1980s peace movement. A 1987 Gorbachov-Reagan arms treaty pulled both Soviet SS-20 nuclear missiles and US cruise and Pershing rockets out of east and west Europe respectively.

The peace movements were not strong enough to force Western unilateral nuclear disarmament. But the CIA knew they were strong enough to encourage multilateral disarmament and put a little democracy in defence policy.

Along the way, the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common was one of the largest, most dynamic and direct-actiony parts of the movement. The CIA papers show that while they respected the strength of the peace movement, they couldn’t keep their normal analytical sobriety when it came to Greenham. Something about the protest got under their skin.

There are many reports like the undated but early ’80s Daily Summary of Public Postions on INF in Europe, which says that the British press are “stressing the effect of the women’s protest at Greenham Common on public opinion,” showing that nearly half of those polled said: “The women’s protest had led them to reverse their opinion on stationing cruise missiles in the UK.”

Looking back, in 1984, the CIA says: “Greenham Common, where cruise missiles are being deployed, is a major focus of peace activity. A feminist peace group not directly associated with the [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] has maintained a ‘peace camp’ near the base since 1981.

“The women’s determined efforts to obstruct and, at times, penetrate the base have gained substantial publicity for the movement.”

A September 1983 secret report on “radical tactics against INF deployment in Europe” shows CIA anxiety about direct action by Greenham and other activists.

The paper worries about “some antinuclear radicals” using “direct action” — including the Greenham women who “penetrated a fence and reached an SR-71 aircraft,” a “Blackbird” spy plane “which they damaged with paint” and break-ins at Upper Heyford Airbase.

The CIA worried that “these modest successes may encourage militants — especially in the women’s camp, which continues to dominate the Greenham Common scene — to try again.” The CIA worried they would reach nuclear equipment and that “an important aim of the more radical protesters will be to provoke a confrontation with US security personnel.”

The challenge of the more radical Greenham Common protesters made the US intelligence people drop their normally pragmatic, technocratic talk.

Alan W Lukens, a senior US diplomat, wrote a “confidential memo” of “reflections on the mood in Europe” for the State Department in December 1983. He toured Europe and had an “allday session” at the British Foreign Office arranged by the British intelligence liaison office with British Foreign Office “intelligence-gathering” staff like Harry Burke.

Luken’s views reflected briefings by British intelligence staff. Lukens said: “In analysing the peace movement in the UK, these officials thought it had peaked and that only a lunatic fringe would continue to demonstrate.

“Nonetheless, they admitted that even without the punks and the crazies, the UK peace movement had deep roots which no government could ignore. ‘The early Greenham Common rallies, in the eyes of these officials, had discredited the peace movement. There was a lack of seriousness, a ‘rent-a-crowd’ psychology which many British citizens resented.”

Only British intelligence could think the Greenham women lacked “seriousness.” The CIA and their British friends putting Greenham in a “lunatic” category with “punks and crazies” shows that the women drove the CIA and their friends out of sober analysis and into knee-jerk prejudices.

CIA anxiety about Greenham took a very peculiar turn in a November 1986 CIA directorate of intelligence on Colonel Muammar Gadaffi. In April 1986, the US launched a bombing raid on Libya using British air bases.

The CIA papers say Gadaffi tried to break Libyan isolation after the bombing by “courting the left,” among other things, “strengthening groups such as the Greenham Common peace camp in the United Kingdom and the Greens who are putting pressure on European governments who are putting pressure on European governments to restrict or remove US military forces in Western Europe.”

Greenham Common protesters were of course among the very many who opposed US bombing raids on Libya in 1986. The attacks were a deadly and pointless piece of warmongering which led to big protests. But the idea that Gadaffi was behind Greenham Common protests — or indeed the Greens — shows the CIA reverting to its worst instincts, seeing secret enemies behind legitimate protest movements.

In a way, the CIA reports are the best reviews of the Greenham protesters. The CIA recognises the women of Greenham had a major influence but they also drive the “intelligence” people to denouncing them as “punks and crazies.”

British government covered up nuclear weapons failure


This video from England says about itself:

Trident is obsolete and too expensive. We are completely against the weapons of mass destruction

16 March 2016

Momentum at the National Demo in London.

From the Sunday Mirror in Britain:

Failed Trident missile test ‘covered up’ by government before MPs’ decision on nuclear weapons

A Trident II D5 missile may have veered off in the wrong direction off the coast of Florida after it was launched from HMS Vengeance in June last year, according to reports

By Dan Bloom and Courtney Greatrex

23:22, 21 JAN 2017. Updated 08:37, 22 JAN 2017

A failed Trident missile test was allegedly covered up by Downing Street just weeks before MPs were due to vote on its nuclear weapons programme.

A Trident II D5 missile may have veered off in the wrong direction off the coast of Florida after it was launched from HMS Vengeance in June last year, according to reports.

It is believed that the test was intended to be fired 5,600 miles to a sea target off the west coast of Africa.

But the missile suffered an in-flight malfunction after launching out of the water, which is believed to be the reason for it veering off course towards America.

News of the failure prompted a news blackout by Downing Street until this weekend, the Sunday Times reported.

A source told the newspaper: “There was major panic at the highest level of government and the military”.

The House of Commons backed the renewal of the Trident missile system in July 2016 – just a month after the test was covered up.

MPs approved the manufacture of four replacement submarines at an estimated cost of £31bn, with another £10bn for potential overspending.

The decision was slammed by anti-nuclear activists, who said the lifetime cost of the project would be over £100bn and help the deadly weapons proliferate across the world.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has long campaigned against nuclear weapons and Labour was split three ways, with 140 MPs voting for renewing Trident – the official party policy [a leftover from the Tony Blair days] – 47 voting against and 41 abstaining or not turning up.

In all 322 Tory MPs voted for renewing Trident and just one, Crispin Blunt, voted against. Four abstained.

When questioned by the BBC, Mrs [Theresa] May repeatedly refused to say if she knew about the misfire ahead of the vote: here.

The Conservative government’s attempt to cover up the potentially catastrophic failure of a Trident ballistic missile has blown up in its face: here.

British nuclear submarine crew have faced sex, drink and drug allegations. Alleged offences were carried out while serving on nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed subs, including four Vanguards, which carry the Trident missile system: here.