Greenpeace Activists Block Nuclear Submarine

Feature story - February 23, 2007
Several Greenpeace boats and the Arctic Sunrise have blocked the Trident nuclear submarine at its Scottish base in response to Tony Blair's determination to start building the next generation of nuclear weapons.

 Tony Blair is rushing through a vote in the Brittish parliament next month to build a replacement for Trident - a new generation of nuclear weapons. The outcome of the vote will have severe implications not just for the UK, but also for the rest of the world.

That's why peace campaigners from around the world gathered aboard our flotilla to prevent the HMS Vigilant from leaving the Faslane naval base. There's been mayhem in the Gareloch while our boats tried to get close to the pontoon that protects the Trident submarine. One person managed to get on to the pontoon; he held up a banner reading NO NEW NUKES before being arrested.

Besides renewing Trident, Blair is also in talks with President Bush to allow bases in the UK to be used as part of the Star Wars system, a policy that will  encourage non-nuclear countries to engage in a new international arms race.  

Watch the highlights from today's blockade:

Building new nuclear weapons is against international law, and politically sends a clear message to other countries that they also need them. Not only will it undermine international disarmament treaties, it comes with a massive price tag, diverting funds away from other issues for decades to come.

The government white paper on Trident replacement stated that the new nuclear weapons would cost £15-£20($29-$39) billion to manufacture, but ignored the running costs. We believe total manufacturing, maintenance and operating costs for a new UK nuclear weapons system will be more like £76($149) billion.

Greenpeace campaigner Louise Edge, who is onboard the Arctic Sunrise, said: "We're blockading the base because these nuclear arms submarines pose a threat to the security of the world, by encouraging other countries to go nuclear in the future. Tony Blair is playing a dangerous game by saying to countries like North Korea that nuclear weapons are necessary for national defense, that the UK doesn't care about its international legal obligations, and that nuclear proliferation is the way forward. He is sending a message to the world that might be welcomed in the capitals of North Korea and Iran, but will be widely condemned by people who want to end nuclear proliferation."

Read our weblog with updates from the scene outside Faslane

See photos from the action on Flickr

Or visit our moblog with photos and images sent by mobile phone throughout the day

Opposition is growing around the world at the determination of the U.S. and the UK to undermine global security. The UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohammed El-Baradei, said earlier this week that Britain cannot 'modernize its Trident submarines and then tell everyone else that nuclear weapons are not needed in the future.' He added, 'We need to treat nuclear weapons the way we treat slavery or genocide. There needs to be a taboo over possessing them.'

UPDATE: Twenty military police stormed the ship and smashed their way onto the bridge of the Arctic Sunrise shortly after 5pm following the day-long stand-off. The military police cut the anchor chain and towed the ship into the nuclear base. All onboard were arrested for being in a restricted area, and held in custody before being released this morning. A motion congratulating the Greenpeace action has been lodged by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

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