'Scrap Trident': British police arrest 47 protesters at Faslane nuclear base
Police estimated that nearly 250 people participated in the demonstration. Around 20 protesters sat or lay down on the ground at the main entrance to the base and covered themselves with banners. They also tied themselves to each other with plastic piping in the protest against the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system. Another eight people locked themselves onto the south gate.
The protesters called for the Trident nuclear weapons program to be scrapped, and for its £100 billion budget money spent instead on social programs. “I am taking action to stop the breach of the peace committed by the UK by owning and refusing to disarm the weapons of mass destruction," Dominic Lindley, a 20-year-old development officer said as quoted by scraptrident.org.
"These weapons are both inhumane, illegal and their use can never be justified. In the next few years the UK has an opportunity to join the vast majority of countries in the world by disarming our pointless nuclear weapons and spend the £100 billion wasted on them on vital services for our communities like the NHS, Education and the Welfare State," Lindley added.
Dozens of police officers surrounded the protesters and formed a line in front of the metal gates. One protester chanted "they say warfare", and the crowd replied with "we say welfare .”
Police used cutting equipment on the plastic piping to separate the protesters from each other before moving them off the road and into police vans.
"It would take a fraction of the cost of the Trident nuclear program to fund free education for all in the UK," Sara Moon, a development officer from Sheffield University said. "At a time when the worst-off in our communities have been stripped of their access to education we have to demand that public money is not wasted on something as unnecessary and devastating as Trident.”
Those arrested ranged in age from 19 to 83, and came from across Scotland, Wales and England. The protest capped off a weekend of 'Scrap Trident' protests and actions, which began on Saturday with a mass demonstration in Glasgow’s George Square. Thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators called for Scotland to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.
The UK’s Trident program encompasses the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them. Trident includes four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, capable of delivering thermonuclear warheads from multiple independent re-entry vehicles.
Trident is the most expensive and the most powerful weapon in the UK’s arsenal. At least one Trident submarine is always on patrol to provide a continuous at-sea deterrent.
The program was announced in July 1980, and patrols began in December 1994. Since 1998, Trident has been the only British nuclear weapon system in service. Its stated purpose is to provide "the minimum effective nuclear deterrent as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threat."
The system is due to go out of service in 2024, but the UK government is contemplating a replacement. A decision on the renewal of the system is expected in 2016.
There is speculation the program could be forced to close if Scotland became independent in 2014. A government report suggested that if Scotland dismantles its nuclear weapons, the construction of the necessary facilities in other parts of the UK could take up to 20 years.