Nukewatch Press Release — 20th March 2021
In the week in which the UK published its Integrated Defence Review with a commitment to increase the cap on its warhead numbers by 40%, a nuclear weapon convoy has travelled from Burghfield in Berkshire to Coulport, only 3 weeks after another reached the Loch Long warhead deport.
The UK move has been subject to strong criticism at home and abroad as provocative and dangerous and overtly in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. International critics include the UN Secretary General and the German foreign minister while remarks on Monday by the US Secretary Of State Anthony Blinken1 re the need to reduce nuclear arsenals suggest that the UK Government is acting on its own.
On March 5th a nuclear weapon convoy with four warhead carrier trucks reached Coulport after a two-day journey from Burghfield where the bombs are assembled. Although not armed for nuclear detonation while in transit on public roads the warheads contain high explosive and plutonium. As the Nukewatch monitoring log shows, intervals between Burghfield-Coulport-Burghfield convoy movements are on average around 6 weeks.
David Mackenzie said: “The maverick planned hike is not just numbers – the reality is these are utterly inhumane weapons that pose real and terrible risks to the communities they pass through, and threaten horrific destruction on ordinary human beings elsewhere. Already we have the real risk of a catastrophic incident involving a convoy and we know that contingency planning for such an event is poor to non-existent. This move means that more and more that UK’s public roads and the Scottish destination will be Bomb Alley at a time when public awareness of and anger at the convoy traffic is increasing significantly.“
“As you know very well, there’s an implicit bargain in the Non Proliferation Treaty, to which we’re (a) very proud signatory and that is that countries that don’t have nuclear weapons vow not to acquire them but in turn, countries that do have nuclear weapons vow to make their best efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate their ourselves. We will do our part to be a strong leader in that effort, but it starts with a nuclear posture review that I think will begin in the weeks ahead.”