|N U K E W A T C H
picture credits: Tony Jillings
11TH MAY 2007
SUBJECT: NUCLEAR CONVOY ON THE ROAD
TIME: MIDNIGHT – 21.00HRS
DATE: 10TH MAY 2007
NUCLEAR WARHEAD CONVOY ANTICS ON THE A52
At about 5.00 a.m. on Thursday, a nuclear warhead convoy using a new route up the M1 en route from AWE Burghfield to RNAD Coulport in Scotland, took the Junction 25 Exit for Nottingham in search of Chetwynd Barracks. The convoy had already stopped once at MOD Bicester for a ‘comfort break’ – but that was more than 2 hours previously at 2a.m. At this point, possibly through tiredness or confusion, the lead driver turned left towards Derby by mistake and everyone followed – warheads and all. Nukewatcher Tony Gillings (07802 637153) was monitoring the convoy and his report speaks for itself:
“Now the bizarre part:- the convoy left the M1 at J25 which signs on the motorway indicated was closed, but it wasn't. Then they drove up and down the A52 (Derby to Nottingham Road) several times, initially turning left to the west, instead of right to the barracks, which were about 3 miles east of the M1. There were road works at the junction, which may have confused matters, but the drivers gave the appearance of being lost because, as I followed the support convoy on the duel carriageway, we met the load carriers coming the other way!
At the final westerly A52 roundabout the support convoy of a breakdown truck, coach and large mobile emergency unit with its trailer, took an obviously wrong turn into a residential area and stopped for a few minutes, presumably realising their mistake and wondering what to do. They then took about 10 minutes to execute turns with great difficulty, using side streets, so that they could return to the roundabout. They were very flustered with personnel running about – and pretty embarrassed too.”
Eventually the whole convoy made it into Chetwynd Barracks for a well-earned rest before setting off again on the 21hour journey to Scotland amid political controversy north of the border.
Report from Scotland
Activists expressed their anger that the Ministry of Defence had transported nuclear warheads along the Edinburgh Bypass just the day after the new Parliament was sworn in. Citizens Weapons Inspectors from the Nukewatch network tracked the warhead convoy from the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Burghfield (50 miles west of London) to RNAD Coulport (35 miles north-west of Glasgow).
"The new Parliament was only sworn in yesterday — technically they haven't even finished their first meeting yet. When they do start considering business, one thing on their Agenda will be two Bills left over from the previous Parliament both aimed at keeping these Weapons of Mass Destruction off Scottish Roads." Yet today the MoD chose, for the first time in many years, to send a nuclear convoy through Edinburgh. They must have been trying to send a message to the new Parliament – it looks to me like the message is one of arrogance and contempt for the Scottish people."
Adam Conway, Nukewatch Inspectors from Helensburgh.
"This Parliament has a golden opportunity to convert the Scottish people's widespread opposition to nuclear weapons into the practical and concrete removal of Trident from Scotland" said Anna-Linnea Rundberg, also from Helensburgh.
Notes to Editors:
1 – Nukewatch is a UK wide network of Citizens Weapons Inspectors who
track movements of nuclear weapons within the UK. For more info see
2 – Each of the "Load Carrier" trucks in the convoy can carry two fully
armed Trident nuclear warheads. Each Load Carrier therefore contains up
to 8kg of Plutonium. Each warhead is 8 times the power of the bomb
which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
3 – The Government finally admitted last year, in response to FOI
requests, that the warheads could explode if the convoy was involved in
a "pile-up" accident.