Pressure mounts against Trident on anniversary of Hiroshima

By Ian Dunt

Anti-nuclear activists are using the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima to pile pressure on the government over its plans to renew the Trident weapon system.

Speaking before a Scottish CND rally in Glasgow tonight, Scottish National party (SNP) politician Bill Kid said: “It is the duty of all of us here to remember Hiroshima and keep pressure on the UK government to abandon the Trident upgrade and listen to the voices of the people as they call for an end to the UK’s weapons-of-mass-destruction.”

Anger at plans to replace the system was ratcheted up a level after Downing Street was accused of trying to suppress a scathing report on the Ministry of Defence’s procurement process, accusing it of wasting £2.5 billion of public money every year.

The report would provide vital ammunition for those critical of the extent to which the government has provided British troops in Afghanistan with sufficient equipment.

But it is also being seized on as evidence the government can ill-afford to replace Trident which, it is estimated, will cost £100 billion over its lifetime.

SNP Westminster leader and defence spokesperson Angus Robertson said: “Speculation that the UK government is wasting billions of pounds on projects it cannot afford totally reignites the debate on Trident renewal.

“In just a few weeks Gordon Brown is set to sign-off £2 billion worth of design work on these weapons of mass destruction.

“Any way you look at it – on moral, economic or political grounds – renewal of this nuclear system is untenable.”

The SNP has argued that Trident renewal must not be excluded from the strategic defence review and further spending on the project should be ruled out pending the planned assessment of defence needs and the 30-nation nuclear non-proliferation summit scheduled in Washington next March.

This morning, the mayor of Hiroshima made an impassioned appeal to world leaders to do their utmost to rid the world of nuclear weapons, with a strongly worded statement of support for US president Barack Obama’s moves to reduce the world nuclear stockpile.

“Together, we can abolish nuclear weapons. Yes, we can,” Tadatoshi Akiba said.

“We refer to ourselves, the great global majority, as the ‘Obamajority,’ and we call on the rest of the world to join forces with us to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020.”

MOD spokesman said: “The UK would only consider using nuclear weapons in self-defence, including the defence of our NATO allies, and even then only in extreme circumstances.

“We remain fully committed to its goal of a safer world in which there is no place for any nuclear weapons, and continues to work hard internationally to achieve that goal.

“However, the government believes it should take the decisions necessary to ensure our national security, and in the current security environment that includes retention of a minimum nuclear deterrent.”

Hiroshima day is remembered in cities and towns across the world, from Sydney to Mumbai to Washington.

About 70,000 people were vaporized on August 6th 1945, when two B-29 bombers dropped nuclear weapons on Hiroshima.

Another 70,000 – 80,000 died in the days and years afterwards from radiation related injuries.