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24 Feb, 2009 06:26

U.S. avoids scrutiny at home with nuclear project in the UK – report

The US is secretly developing its own nuclear weapons program in the UK, according to an article published in one of Britain’s leading newspapers.

The report claims that a secret deal between Washington and London allows the U.S. to avoid restrictions at home.

Aldermaston, Britain looks like a typical quaint village in the English countryside, apart from the fact that it is home to the UK's only nuclear factory.

“People have had odd things growing in their gardens and so we just say oh, well, that is the nuclear plant up the road that's causing all that,” says Joyce Gregory, a local resident who has lived just down the road from the facility for over 25 years.

What exactly happens inside of Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment is top secret. But according to evidence obtained by The Guardian newspaper, “very valuable” warhead research for the U.S. is allegedly taking place beyond the doors of the facility.

“The senior U.S. officials have said there has been work, and the UK government have not denied,” argues Matthew Taylor, a reporter for The Guardian. “In fact, they have accepted there is work going on, but they won't tell us what that is because of the official secrets act. So I am convinced there is work on warhead research going on there.”

US President Barack Obama has pledged a “world without nuclear weapons,” but it seems that's going to be quite a challenge, with the Pentagon pulling in an opposite direction.

“From the UK point of view, it suggests that we are in some way subsidizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and this has raised concerns among parliamentarians here. And in the U.S. it suggests that America may be trying to get around restrictions placed on them by Congress by using the facilities in the UK to develop their next generation warheads. This is extremely serious for international relations,” Taylor added.

British opposition MPs have already called for a full parliamentary enquiry into the extent of complicity at Aldermaston.

“We know that the U.S. Congress stopped money for the replacement of warheads for the United States, and of course President Obama has said ”No new nukes,“ but at the same time this thing is going on in Britain,” says Kate Hudson, the Chairwoman of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament organization.

Hudson claims any such collaboration at Aldermaston would represent a major breach of international law. It also undermines Britain's claim to have an independent nuclear weapons program.

“What created the sensation around that particular story was that rather than it being the case of Britain being the junior partner getting [technology] from the Americans, while they assist us with our little whatevers, it turns out that perhaps doing stuff for them, perhaps because the warhead [program] is not being funded over there in the United States,” Hudson said on RT.

The nuclear history between the UK and the U.S. goes back decades.

The famous Greenham Common is the site of a decades-long protest against Britain's nuclear program. The location for the site was apparently no accident – it is just a few steps away from a former British-American airbase. U.S. cruise missiles with nuclear warheads were kept here under American command as part of the world's most extensive nuclear sharing treaty.

In 2004, the bilateral agreement was extended for another 10 years, fuelling protests from campaigners that it breached the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

With huge amounts of money being poured into the Atomic Weapons Establishment in recent years, campaigners want to know if it is helping America. And if so, why is the British taxpayer footing the bill?

Whether there is any joint British-American nuclear warhead research going on behind the barbed wire of Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment remains confidential, but it seems that the time that the truth be revealed has arrived.