Monday, 1 September 2014

No to nuclear weapons in Cornwall

My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian addresses the subject of nuclear weapons. It will be as follows:

If Scotland votes for independence on 18th September, the UK Government will be obliged to find a new home for Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet, which is presently located at Faslane on the Clyde.

A report compiled by the Royal United Services Institute states that Plymouth Devonport would be the “obvious choice” for a new base to store the Trident missiles and warheads. It adds that the Fal Estuary in Cornwall could be considered as a base and that this option had been “given most credence to date” because of its “good shelter” and “comparatively isolated location.”

Opposition to the suggestion was predictably widespread. A prominent conservationist said it could cause “vast and lasting environmental damage,” while a Green MEP suggested that it could make Falmouth a “potential target” for terrorists. A Labour councillor meanwhile argued that it would damage the tourism industry, stating that the Fal Estuary was a “completely unsuitable place to be storing nuclear weapons” because it is an “area of outstanding natural beauty.”

It is my view that weapons of mass destruction should not be stored in Cornwall, or Scotland, or anywhere else for that matter – whether an area of outstanding natural beauty or somewhere deemed less salubrious by the powers-that-be.

Put simply, I consider it morally indefensible for the United Kingdom to have such weapons – which surely could never be used by any civilised country.

Each nuclear submarine carries an estimated eight Trident missiles, with up to five warheads on each one. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament states that each warhead has the “explosive power of up to 100 kilotons of conventional high explosive – this is eight times the power of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing an estimated 240,000 people from blast and radiation.”

I recently purchased a report from Scottish CND titled “If Britain fired Trident.” It makes horrific reading.

It states that the “blast alone would kill almost everyone within one kilometre of each target” while thousands and thousands between one and three kilometres from the point of impact would also perish because of heat, fireballs and radiation. It adds that an attack from a single nuclear submarine on a large urban area could result in the deaths of up to 5.4 million men, women and children.

This is unthinkable and it is therefore obscene that past governments have wasted so many billions of pounds on nuclear missiles capable of such devastating destruction.

I also despair that Westminster politicians are considering replacement of the present Trident nuclear missile system, which could cost taxpayers another £100 billion. This is all so wrong – such money would be better invested in public services to make Britain a better place in which to live.

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