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AWE Aldermaston: Building Work Stopped By Peaceful Blockade

Less than a week after the decision by a local Planning Committee not to object to plans for a new super-laser facility at the Atomic Weapons Establis hment (AWE) Aldermaston, campaigners are using their bodies to achieve what the planners have failed to do: to stop work on a new generation of nuclear weapons. Seven people were charged with obstructing the highway. This laser is a key part of the infrastructure being developed at AWE: by simulating the effects at the heart of a thermo-nuclear explosion, the laser enables new nuclear weapons to be developed and tested without using full-scale underground bomb tests. Block the Builders (BtB) is committed to taking non-violent direct action to prevent this work, and members of the campaign are ready to risk arrest to highlight and to stop the developments at AWE Aldermaston. A formal decision is expected within this Parliament on whether to replace the Trident (submarine-based) nuclear weapons system, though evidence from the ORION laser and other building work at Aldermaston indicates that the decision to build a new generation of nuclear weapons may already have been made in principle. At 6:30am on 30th January, campaigners from around the country gathered at the gates of the bomb factory, and groups began to \'lock-on\' to each other in front of the gates, preventing access to the site. Access into AWE is heavily disrupted, with the blockade continuing at both Tadley gate (leading into the West Gate area) and Main Gate. About 50 people are at the blockade. \"A Local Planning Committee is the only forum that has been available to object to the ORION laser, even though this development will send shockwaves around the world,\" said a BtB spokesperson at the site. The Government seems determined to flout international law, undermine international security and bypass democratic debate, by putting this infrastructure in place at Aldermaston and making the formal decision to replace Trident a \'fait accompli\'. Block the Builders is a growing campaign, and we are equally determined to stop them.\" Today\'s blockade comes at a time when the Government is telling Iran not to develop nuclear weapons, and just weeks after Mohammed ElBaradei received the Nobel peace prize and called on Nuclear Weapons States to \"take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament.\" Development of new nuclear weapons further undermines our commitments to disarm, made as part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.