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Scrap Trident nuclear programme, protesters demand

Shouting “Wrap up Trident” and holding up placards reading “Books Not Bombs” and “Climate not Trident” thousands of campaigners took to the streets of central London on January 24 in a novel protest.

‘Peace scarf’

Organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Action AWE, the marchers wrapped the Ministry of Defence in a two-mile-long pink “peace scarf” knitted by volunteers from all over the world in protest against government plans to spend £100 billion to upgrade the United Kingdom’s Trident nuclear sea-based weapons system based near Glasgow in Scotland.

On January 20th, a parliamentary vote saw an overwhelming endorsement for the upgrade, with only 37 Members of Parliament voting to not renew the Trident programme, and 364 voting for it. However, 250 MPS — including Labour leader Ed Miliband — abstained from voting.

The “Wrap up Trident” demonstration sought to raise awareness over an issue on which there has been little public debate in recent years — the last big anti-Trident protest was in 2007 — to ensure its inclusion in the election agendas of political parties in the May 2015 general elections.

Calling the Trident missile system a “Cold War relic” and an “anachronism in the 21st century,” the CND’s General Secretary Kate Hudson underscored the costs of its upkeep that she said are “spiralling out of control.” “Trident is set to be a huge election issue. People are sick of being told there’s no money for public services while seeing billions squandered on a weapon which provides nothing but the illusion of security and simply encourages the vicious circle of nuclear proliferation worldwide,” Ms .Hudson said.

NHS funding gap

She contrasted the £2 billion funding gap the National Health Service is facing with the £3 billion spent on running the Trident system in the same period. “This is a crisis of priorities and nothing else — and all MPs standing for election should take stock of the public mood or pay the price at the ballot box,” she said.

Rebecca Johnson of Action AWE recalled that Britain was one of 157 nations in Vienna in December 2014 to discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. “Scrapping Trident will increase our security, save our money, and enable the U.K. to join multilateral negotiations on an international nuclear ban treaty,” she said.

The protest comes soon after another grim warning was sounded by the Bulletin of Atomic Science and Security Board, which on January 22 in Washington DC cited unchecked climate change and global nuclear weapons proliferation to move the hands of the historic Doomsday Clock forward by two minutes to stand at three minutes to midnight or “doomsday”, the first such adjustment in three years.

The Board said that “world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” thereby allowing a situation that will “endanger every person on Earth.”

The case for the Trident missile system is based on the argument that a minimum nuclear deterrent is needed to counter what is perceived as the continuing security threat to Britain from hostile states, and non-state actors.

Further, the nuclear defence industry is a major employer. In the recent Scottish referendum, the dismantling of Trident was a key promise of the Scottish National Party and the pro-Independence group. The real fear of job losses if an independent Scotland scrapped Trident worked to the advantage of the “No” campaign.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 2:58:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/scrap-trident-nuclear-programme-protesters-demand/article6821268.ece

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