Memorandum from Aldermaston Women's Peace
This submission makes brief reference to the
general content of the White Paper, but focuses specifically on
elements of the White Paper relevant to the Atomic Weapons Establishment
(AWE) Aldermaston, and in particular, Chapter 7, warhead replacement.
Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp-aign (AWPC) will
argue that the Defence White Paper fails to reveal the true extent
of the Government's progress on developing a successor system;
that it asks parliament to approve in principle the development
of a new warhead without giving any details about the programme;
while having already made the decision in advance of the debate.
We are submitting this evidence in the tradition
of the Greenham women who contributed to nuclear disarmament,
as enshrined in the 1987 INF Treaty.
We note that the promised consultation of the
future of Trident has not taken place; that this Select Committee
is not part of any official consultation, and that the UK Government
have taken measures to prevent lawful and peaceful protest at
Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp-aign (AWPC) are
calling on the government to come clean on the fact that at AWE
Aldermaston, the Ministry of Defence has already started work
to build facilities to test, design and build new warheads, in
advance of any parliamentary decision.
Although we at AWPC see the debate as a "done
deal", we continue to call for an open and transparent public
debate on whether nuclear weapons provide us with the security
we really need.
AWPC calls for a halt for all building work
at AWE Aldermaston until such time that the British people are
given the opportunity to inform to the government whether they
really want a new generation of nuclear weapons.
3. GENERAL COMMENTS
While AWPC welcomes the publication of the White
Paper in setting out the Government's intentions with regard to
the replacement of Trident, we note that there is no accompanying
process to ensure the promised public debate.
With regard to the forthcoming parliamentary
debate, we note that:
1. The White Paper was published in advance
of the conclusion of the DSC's series of inquiries.
2. Although several options are discussed
in the White Paper, they are not presented as choices; all options
not favoured by the government are dismissed.
3. There is no consideration of the option
not to replace Trident.
4. There is a failure to abide by the letter
and sprit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
AWPC condemn the Government's White Paper for
its commitment to retaining a UK nuclear weapons system and for
its failure to come clean about measures the government has already
taken at AWE Aldermaston to build new facilities to test, design
and build a new generation of nuclear warheads.
In this submission, and in our previous submissions
to this committee, we have shown that the financial commitment
already made at AWE Aldermaston is unrelated to the continued
maintenance of the extant stockpile ("stockpile stewardship"),
but relates to the construction of new facilities. Through references
to AWE ML's public statements and publications, and other documents
already in the public domain, we have demonstrated that a substantial
investment has already been made in facilities, and in the recruitment
of staff, which will allow the development of a new warhead system.
We note that in their previous report, the committee
noted that they were "less convinced that the investment
in the new Orion laser, the supercomputer and hydrodynamics facilities
could not have waited for a decision in principle on the future
of the UK's nuclear deterrent".
We again argue that the Government should inform
parliament and the DSC about the detail of their financial and
contractual commitments already undertaken at AWE Aldermaston,
and that those details should have been included in the White
5. WARHEAD REPLACEMENT
Although the White Paper proposes in section
7 a decision in principle to replace the Trident Warhead after
it gives no detail about the plans for the design, capacity and
killing power of the warheads proposed. The Government is, in
effect, asking Parliament to consent, in both policy and financial
terms, to an unknown.
We submit that although the Government state
that the decision on warhead replacement does not need to be made
until the next parliament, they have advanced plans, as we have
shown in our two previous submissions, and AWE Aldermaston is
already at an advanced prototyping stage. 
In section 7 of the White Paper, the Government
states "Decisions on whether and how we may need to refurbish
or replace this warhead are likely to be necessary in the next
parliament." Given that work had already started at Aldermaston
when the government was stating in its December 2003 White Paper
that "Decisions on whether to replace Trident are not needed
this Parliament but are likely to be required in the next one",
it seems likely that by the next Parliament, work will be at such
an advanced stage that Parliament will merely be required to rubberstamp
a decision made years previously. 
It is clear from the timeline
that the death-span of the current warhead will last until the
2020s, when the new submarines and the life-extended missiles
will be built. Although the Government say they will not have
decided on the warheads until the next Parliament, this decision
has already been made: in the commitment to a new delivery platform;
in the declared intention of producing new missiles "in collaboration
with the US"; the warheads too, will be produced in conjunction
with the US, as was the Trident system, under the 1958 Mutual
Defence Agreement. So, we wonder, where are the details?
6. DECISION MAKING
The decision to replace Trident missiles, and
or the Trident system, was flagged up in the 1998 Strategic Defence
Review. However, in March 2000, shortly before taking their contract
to run AWE, Dr John Rae (Chief Executive, AWE ML) told the AWE
Local Liaison Committee that, "Having decided to make the
UK deterrent smaller MoD expects a lower cost, therefore the funding
from MoD will come down to a level which allows the programme
to be delivered. As a rough guide there will be a 1/3
reduction in staff and funding will be reduced on a similar basis."
would therefore appear that some time between March 2000 and July
2002, the decision to build new warheads was made, and subsequently
confirmed in the publication of AWE Aldermaston's Site Development
Strategy Plan. The
extension AWE ml's contract to 25 years was announced in early
In our two previous submissions, we presented
evidence to inform the committee about the nature and extent of
investment at AWE Aldermaston, arguing that it far exceeded that
required for stewardship of the extant stockpile and indicated
that the Government has already made substantial progress in making
decisions critical to the development of a successor to the present
We suggest that Government's claim that no decision
has been taken on whether to replace the warhead or not to replace
them is not true.
The Site Development Strategy Plan in both July
2002, as updated in and fleshed out more fully in the Site Development
set out plans to construct a range of facilities which are now
recognised by most professionals and experts working in this field
to be unnecessary solely for maintenance of the current system,
but essential for the development of a new weapons system. 
We suggest that the Government have taken a
pragmatic approach to the truth where the decision-making process
is concerned. Where Watergate gave us the non-denial denial, John
Reid, in his previous role as Defence Secretary, has given us
the non-decision decision, as the following illuminating statement
"My hon Friend posits something that envisages
a qualitative and quantifiable watershed between the maintenance
of facilities, whereby they are updated and rendered continually
safe so that our existing nuclear deterrent is made more effective,
and, a new weapon. The world does not work like that [...] I do
not think that the world develops like that. The reality is that
the preparations necessary to maintain a nuclear deterrent in
a safe condition, which is constantly updated to meet new threats
in terms of accuracy and new technology, are an integral part
of what might becomeI do not say will becomeone
possible avenue for one of the many alternatives that we might
have to consider if are going to update, replace or modernise
our nuclear deterrent. That is as honest an answer as I can give
to my hon. Friend. In the real world, there is no such complete
Influences on decision-making
The decision-making process in relation to the
procurement of a new warhead system is subject to external pressures
including the relationship between the UK and USA under the 1958
Mutual Defence Agreement, and significant commercial interests.
In para 7-3, the Government state, that the
"[Trident] warhead was designed and manufactured in the UK
by AWE, although it was decided that it would be more cost effective
to procure certain non-nuclear components of the warhead from
the United States".
What they do not state is that the UK version
of the Trident warhead is based on a US system and was produced
in conjunction with the US, although the White Paper acknowledges
in sections 4-7, that it makes no sense to be operationally independent
from the US, and it would make sense to carry on in the same way.
All UK nuclear weapons have since 1958 been
developed by AWE Aldermaston in conjunction with their colleagues
at US nuclear establishments and, as have we have previously reported,
scientific and other collaboration continues through regular visits
and exchanges. We note in particular, collaboration, in both 2005
and in 2006 on subcritical warhead tests.
The nature of these collaborations has already been presented
to you in detail in previous sessions. 
We note that the White Paper was published one
week before a US Freedom of Information inquiry revealed evidence
of the United States assistance in the development of its nuclear
warheads. According to the recently released document, half of
the tests conducted between 1999 and 2001 at US laboratories were
to assist with Britain's Trident system. Although claims that
the weapons were designed in Britain, the tests conducted used
the American W-76 submarine based warhead. Commenting on this,
a spokesperson for the Federation of American Scientists said,
"This FoI document links the British warhead design directly
with the nukes carried on US ballistic missile boats, despite
the claim by the British government only last week in its white
paper on the future of nuclear deterrence that its own warheads
were designed and manufactured in the UK." 
On 7 January 2007 the New York Times reported
that the US Government was likely to announce its intention to
pursue a new warhead programme the following week. Estimated to
cost up to US$100 billion, Presidential authorisation would be
required in the next one to two years, reportedly, engineering
would begin in 2010 and warheads would be apparently in production
by 2012. A
happy coincidence for the US, were they to wish to take advantage
of the sparkling new facilities at the Orion laser facilitydue
to be commissioned between 2008 and 2012.
Evidence we have previously put before the committee
also suggests that the decisions which have already made have
been fuelled by commercial interests rather than by the national
For example, we remind the committee one of the responsibilities
of a "Lead Systems Engineer" which AWE are advertising
is to "attempt to influence the MoD on warhead options".
Work on the construction of the new Orion laser
has been progressing throughout 2006; AWE have recently purchased
the world's most advanced supercomputer (co-developed by Sandia
National Laboratories in the US); submitted to West Berkshire
District council for consideration on 22 January 2007 plans for
a £60 million office building to house some of the 1,200
new staff it is currently recruiting; entered into contracts with
hundreds of private companies; and will shortly submit plans for
the construction of a new hydrodynamics facility. According to
AWE mlwho manage the site for the governmentthe
new developments are expected to be on the scale of Terminal 5
By the next Parliament, the Orion laser will
have been commissioned, andaccording to documents published
by AWE [2 SCCP] many of the new facilities planned at AWE, (and
which experts agree would only be necessary for the production
of a new warhead, will have been built.
In section 5-11, Costs and Funding, the WP estimates
"£2-3 billion for the possible future refurbishment
or replacement of the warhead".
AWPC does not consider this is an accurate reflection
of the true costs.
It appears that, if a decision has not yet been
made on refurbishment or replacement, this £2-3 billion must
be in addition to the costs estimated in section 5-13, identified
for continuing the "programme of investment in sustaining
capabilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), both to
ensure we can maintain the existing warhead for as long as necessary
and to enable us to develop a replacement warhead if that is required."
Additional funding for Aldermaston was announced
in 2005, as a one-off investment over three years. This
has to date averaged £350 million per annum over the years
2005-06 and 2007-08. However the White Paper states thatrather
than as originally claimedthat there will be further investment,
likely to cost "the equivalent of about 3% of the current
defence budget (compared to about 2.5% today)".
In addition to the above, the current 25 year
contract held by AWE ml until 2025 to run AWE Aldermaston, runs
at £5.3 billion.
So is the estimated £2-3 billion is in
addition to the normal operational costs of running Aldermaston?(which
include maintaining the current warhead stockpile and transporting
the current warheads back and forth from Aldermaston to Coulport
As acknowledged in section 5-14 of the White
Paper, once the warheads are built, further costs will be incurred
to maintain the warheads and presumably continue to transport
them back and forth between Aldermaston and Coulport for refurbishment.
According to reports in the national media,
industry analysts are expecting an investment at AWE of around
£12bn over the next 12 years. However,
the government will not give any figures beyond 2007 until after
the next Comprehensive Spending Review.
"Our decision to maintain the deterrent
is fully compatible with all our international legal obligations."
AWPC considers the designing, testing and building
of new nuclear warheads to be in breach of our international treaty
obligations and sets a very bad example to the rest of the world.
The Government claims that, "Britain continues to set an
example for others to follow in our commitment to work towards
a peaceful, fairer and safer world without nuclear weapons."
This is more than disingenuous, it is a lie.
For legal obligations under the Nuclear Non
Proliferation Treaty (NPT) we refer you to Philippe Sands' recent
for the relationship between the Mutual Defence Agreement and
obligations under the NPT, see Christine Chinkin and Rabinder
We also note that the White Paper continuously refers
to the need to have nuclear weapons "to safeguard our vital
interests". It does not once refer to the need for nuclear
weapons for "self-defence", the only condition under
which the ICJ was divided it its opinion on the legality of the
threat or use of nuclear weapons. A minority of the judges considered
it might possibly be legal to use nuclear weapons in self-defence.
To justify nuclear weapons a climate of fear
has to be created which is damaging in itself and destructive
to our international relations, including on non-nuclear states
and those who the government condemns for apparently wanting to
develop their own.
We also consider that by developing the technology
(the Orion laser) to test a weapon in conditions replicating a
nuclear explosion, the UK government would also be in violation
of the spirit of the CTBT (of which it is a founding signatory).
9. REAL SECURITY
As some of the women who contributed to nuclear
disarmament, as enshrined in the 1987 INF Treaty, through protest
at Greenham Common, we note that the government have been forced
to rake up decades old Cold War arguments to support the proposals
contained in the White Paper.
The Government is asking us to imagine a hypothetical
enemy appearing suddenly at any point in the next 50 years even
though they agree that the scenario they are "insuring"
against is highly improbable. The idea that if we cannot guarantee
that a ridiculously unlikely event may happen we have to take
extraordinarily dangerous and costly measureswhich there
is no likelihood would address the imagined threatis dangerous.
The government can justify almost any amount of political repression
or aggressive military action using the imaginary mythical enemy.
Time has moved on, security threats are completely
different. We therefore suggest that the debate is widened to
include alternative notions of security, based on the experience
and thinking of women in the global southfor whom security
means access to water, to housing, to health, to education and
to be free of violence.
For 22 years we have held a monthly camp outside
the fence at AWE Aldermaston.
We are a witness to their preparations for war
crimes. We watch their contractors coming and goingbuilding
the new facilities.
We watch their nuclear warhead convoys setting
off to transport their deadly loads to Coulport (something which
creates insecurity and environmental hazards on a constant basis
on UK's busiest roads).
We see increased police and military protection
of nuclear weapons, and its impact on the public in the immediate
area surrounding AWE's Aldermaston and Burghfield, Devonport,
Faslane and Coulport as well as every area the warheads are transported
In order to possess and deploy nuclear weapons,
the UK Government has to interfere with the public's freedom of
movement, expression and privacy. In particular, this government,
through the MoD, is actively seeking to deny the right to any
form of peaceful protest at AWE Aldermaston in violation of the
provisions of the Human Rights Act through the proposed introductionoutside
of any parliamentary scrutinyof bylaws which prohibit leafleting,
demonstrations and meetings outside AWE Aldermaston. 
We congratulate the Defence Select Committee
in inviting AWPC to attend the hearing, and in so doing, acknowledge
women's work for peace at all levels, in the UK and internationally.
Britain's possession of nuclear weapons damages
us ethically, spiritually and psychologically. The effects of
possessing nuclear weapons will impact the thinking of both the
threatenedand the aggressorscreating further insecurity
in the world. Given that nuclear weapons are generally considered
to be illegal under international humanitarian law, upgrading
and expanding the facilities at Aldermaston "normalises"
what should be inconceivablea factory for indiscriminate
weapons of mass destruction.
If the PM has to plant a few trees to offset
the environmental damage of his overseas holidays, what can we
expect him to do to offset the environmental impact of developing
the next generation of UK nuclear weapons?
16 January 2007
AWE Aldermaston. It is therefore proposed that the
Secretary of State for Defence will make new byelaws for the above
sites under the powers granted to him by the Military Lands Act
1892". For background to the proposed byelaws, see http://tinyurl.com/yd9f86
1 DSC, Fourth Report, Recc.25, page 42. Back
Ev 91-99: Memorandum from the Aldermaston Women's Peace Campaign,
White Paper Table 7.1. Back
See http://physicsweb.org/jobs/jobdetail/6853 Back
p. 9, Delivering Security in a Changing World, Defence White
Paper December 2003. Back
2006 White Paper Table 7.1, p. 30. Back
See http://www.awe.co.uk/main_site/scientific_and_technical/publications/Strategy_Plans/index.html Back
AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield, Site Development Context Plan
2005-15, November 2005 (public http link removed). Back
See, for example, evidence presented to the fourth DSC by Scottish
CND, Ev 99-Ev 101. Back
John Reid, Defence debate, House of Commons, 18 May 2005. Back
See, for example, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2081514,00.html
on the 2006 Krakatoa test. Back
See for example, submissions to fourth DSC by Dan Plesch (Ev.
105) and Scottish CND (Ev. 99-101). Back
and "US Trident tests cast doubt over UK design claims,"
The Herald, 12 December 2006. Back
NYTimes report, 7 January 2007. See http://tinyurl.com/yz8hzm Back
Ev. 91-99: Memorandum from the Aldermaston Women's Peace Campaign,
John Reid, Written Ministerial Statement in Commons 19 July 2005
(Hansard Volume No. 436, Part No. 36, Column 59WS) Back
See, for example, Daily Mail, 13 December 2006. See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=422489&in_page_id=1770) Back
The United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent: current and future
issues of legality, Philippe Sands, November 2006. See http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/MultimediaFiles/Live/FullReport/8072.pdf Back
"The Maintenance and Possible Replacement of the Trident
Nuclear Missile System". Rabinder Singh QC and Professor
Christine Chinkin (LSE), December 2005. See http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0512/doc06.htm Back
International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996
on the Legality Of The Threat Or Use Of Nuclear Weapons:
"the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat
or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme
circumstance of self- defence," (summary, on matter E). Back
"The Ministry of Defence has determined that replacement/new
byelaws are required to control the following sites: Back