A new improved Trident


One Trident warhead has 8 times the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, which killed over 140, 000 people and caused suffering - including genetic defects - which has continued over the years.  So a current Trident warhead aimed at a city could kill over a million people.  Important to remember these kind of facts when reading about ‘upgrading warheads’.


Do we want them?

At a CND conference in September many of the speakers emphasised that those who didn’t want to see a new – and no doubt more lethal – Trident were actually part of the majority:

59% of the British public oppose replacing Trident when presented with alternative ways of spending the suggested £25 billion (ICM poll, July2006).

81% of the British public want Parliament to vote on the Trident replacement issue (ICM poll, June 2006).


Getting together with friends

Bruce Kent and others at the conference stressed the importance, too, of a campaigning strategy based on a broad coalition of allies including trade unions, charities and faith groups. He gave the example of a public statement made by church leaders in Scotland. Later we heard pledges of support from Louise Richards of War on Want and unions.  Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading, whose diocese includes Aldermaston, came out strongly against a strategy based on nuclear weapons. He pointed out that Jesus said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ but that the rich and powerful tended to view them as troublemakers.


Challenging Assumptions

Labour MP Jon Trickett questioned the way the Government is rushing to make a decision without any proper debate. The public has been told no decision has been made but statements from ministers and activities at Aldermaston tell a different story. Mr Trickett told us that Trident’s lifespan, if that doesn’t sound too ironic, extends to 2024 and replacement would only take 14 years. So there is ample time before 2010, when a decision is actually needed.


For us but not for you?

Of course the fundamental assumption we need to challenge is the idea that nuclear weapons make us safer and that powerful countries need this ‘protection’ while other countries do not. The current attitude to the Iranian nuclear programme has highlighted this, but it is a contradiction which always colours the perceptions of the nuclear weapons states and which contradicts the essence of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


A good idea

Article V1 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states:

‘Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.’ And in 2000 the UK along with the four other declared nuclear weapons states gave ‘an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals’.

Sounds like a good idea. As speakers at the CND Conference pointed out the UK Government needs to start taking the commitment seriously.

Mary Holmes


More resources:

‘No Trident Replacement’, a CND Briefing September 2006 from CND, 020 7700 2393, email: information@cnduk.org

Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp www.aldermaston.net

Block the Builders  www.blockthebuilders.org.uk  a monthly protest at Aldermaston

Visit the Big Trident Debate site www.bigtridentdebate.org.uk to sign the statement calling for a debate and cast your vote on whether or not the UK should replace Trident.


Please ask your MP to sign two new EDMs on Trident replacement:

EDM 2702 introduced by Labour and Lib Dem MPs calls for the government to publish a Green Paper on Trident replacement, outlining all the options including non-replacement. EDM 2703 introduced by Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem MPs calls for a full public debate on Trident replacement and welcomes initiatives which further this goal.