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US using British atomic weapons factory for its nuclear programme

 
 
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 01:22 am

A report from CND

In an astonishing article published in The Guardian, it has been revealed that the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire is being used by the US military to research its own nuclear warhead programme. In addition, the Ministry of Defence has admitted it is working with the US on the UK’s "existing nuclear warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options that might be available", but the extent of the collaboration has not been made clear.

The article, based on research by Scottish CND, also reveals that the US and UK governments renegotiated their nuclear weapons pact - the so-called Mutual Defence Agreement - in 2004 to include the UK in the development of a new nuclear warhead.

A number of MPs have called for a full parliamentary inquiry into the matter and campaign groups have warned that any such deal would be in breach of international law. This is another example of the lack of transparency about how taxpayers’ money is being spent on nuclear weapons.
http://www.cnduk.org/



US using British factory for its nuclear programme

• Joint warhead research carried out at Aldermaston
• Work breaches nuclear treaty, campaigners warn

* Matthew Taylor and Richard Norton-Taylor
* The Guardian, Monday 9 February 2009
* Article history

The US military has been using Britain's atomic weapons factory to carry out research into its own nuclear warhead programme, according to evidence seen by the Guardian.

US defence officials said that "very valuable" warhead research has taken place at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire as part of an ongoing and secretive deal between the British and American governments.

The Ministry of Defence admitted it is working with the US on the UK's "existing nuclear warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options that might be available" but declined to give any further information.

Last night, opposition MPs called for a full parliamentary inquiry into the extent of the collaboration at Aldermaston and campaign groups warned any such deal was in breach of international law. They added that it also undermined Britain's claim to have an independent nuclear weapons programme and meant British taxpayers were effectively subsidising America's nuclear programme.

The US president, Barack Obama, while on the campaign trail said he wanted to eliminate nuclear weapons and that one of his first actions on taking office would be to "stop the development of new nuclear weapons". But the Pentagon is at odds with the president. The defence secretary, Robert Gates, and other senior officials argue that the US's existing arsenal needs to be upgraded and that would not constitute "new" weapons.

Kate Hudson, of CND, said: "Any work preparing the way for new warheads cuts right across the UK's commitment to disarm, which it signed up to in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. That this work may be contributing to both future US and British warheads is nothing short of scandalous."

Nick Harvey, defence spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said parliament and the country would react with "outrage" at the prospect of British taxpayers funding a new US nuclear weapon.

"All this backroom dealing and smoke and mirrors policy is totally unacceptable, the government must open the Aldermaston accounts to full parliamentary scrutiny," he added.

The extent of US involvement at Aldermaston came to light in an interview with John Harvey, policy and planning director at the US National Nuclear Security Administration, carried out last year by the thinktanks Chatham House and the Centre for Strategic Studies.

Referring to "dual axis hydrodynamic" experiments which, with the help of computer modelling, replicate the conditions inside a warhead at the moment it starts to explode, Harvey said: "There are some capabilities that the UK has that we don't have and that we borrow... that I believe we have been able to exploit that's been very valuable to us."

It is unclear whether the experiments are still being carried out but, in the same interview, Harvey admitted that the US and UK had struck a new deal over the level of cooperation, including work on US plans for a new generation of nuclear warhead known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW). He said: "We have recently, I can't tell you when, taken steps to amend the MDA [Mutual Defence Agreement], not only to extend it but to amend it to allow for a broader extent of cooperation than in the past, and this has to do with the RRW effort."

Campaigners said the comments represent the first direct evidence that the US is using UK facilities to develop its nuclear programme. Lawyers acting on their behalf said the increasing levels of cooperation and the extension the MDA breach the non-proliferation treaty, which states: "Each nuclear weapon state party to the treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices indirectly or indirectly."

The MoD admitted the two countries are working together, "examining both the optimum life of the UK's existing nuclear warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options that might be available to inform decisions on whether and how we may need to refurbish or replace the existing warhead likely to be necessary in the next parliament".

Congress has stopped funding research into RRW but campaigners believe the US military may have used facilities in the UK to get around the restrictions at home.

"Billions of pounds have been poured into the Atomic Weapons Establishment over recent years to build new research facilities," said Hudson. "If these are being used to support US programmes outside Congress's controls on spending, it raises even more serious questions about why the British taxpayer is paying for a so-called 'independent deterrent'."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/09/us-uk-atomic-weapons-nuclear-power
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Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 07:03 pm
Nothing to be concerned about, Holmes. Moriarty was spotted again in South America, anyway.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 07:23 pm
Have I got this right, Endy? The US is using UK facilities to carry out atomic weapons development - which for legal reasons cannot be carried out in the US? Sort of like "out-sourcing" weapons production to the UK?
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 07:29 pm
@msolga,
Please correct me if I've got this wrong.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 08:01 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

Have I got this right, Endy? The US is using UK facilities to carry out atomic weapons development - which for legal reasons cannot be carried out in the US? Sort of like "out-sourcing" weapons production to the UK?


In my mind it might just reflect that the British scientists have much to offer the Americans. Why ask any Brits to move across the pond to do their quality work? Kids are in schools, have friends, houses have mortgages. It is not always a preference to come to the States, in my opinion.

In my opinion, it was the Brits who had real tears when they gathered after 9/11. Perhaps, everyone is not aware what solid allies they are?
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2011 08:00 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
Have I got this right, Endy? The US is using UK facilities to carry out atomic weapons development - which for legal reasons cannot be carried out in the US? Sort of like "out-sourcing" weapons production to the UK?


The article was saying it was illegal for the US to do it in the UK, not that it would have been illegal for the US to do it within the US.

Not likely that it was illegal though. Anti-war types just like to go around pretending that weapons violate imaginary laws.

That said, I never did understand the point of the Reliable Replacement Warhead. Why not just resume production of the W87-1 ?
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2011 08:57 pm
I'm still scratching my head and trying to figure out what the [alleged] problem is here. The UK and the USA are allies and friends. The US finds it more convenient -- for whatever reason -- to conduct some nuclear research in the UK and asks the British government's permission to do so. Permission granted. What's the uproar about then?
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2011 09:02 pm
@oralloy,
oralloy wrote:
Not likely that it was illegal though. Anti-war types just like to go around pretending that weapons violate imaginary laws.


Reluctantly, I have to agree with that. We could discuss, of course, whether it is morally or ethically justified to do this sort of wmd work at all anwhere on earth. But that's an entirely different topic, irrelevant in this instance.
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