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ScrapTrident


The Terror of An Attack on a Nuclear Convoy

from Sunday Herald, 11 June 2006 A terrorist attack on a nuclear weapons convoy could cause \"considerable loss of life\" and prevent the UK from f unctioning as a sovereign state, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted. The admission is the first official acknowledgement of the catastrophe that could result from an assault on the trucks that regularly carry Trident warheads through Scotland. The risk is that, either by accident or design, one of the bombs could explode. The detonation of a 100-kiloton Trident warhead would cause a blast eight times more powerful than the one which devastated the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945 and killed at least 100,000 people. Anyone within five kilometres would die instantly. The MoD\'s statement came in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act. It refused to release details of the roads used by nuclear convoys because this \"would provide valuable information to terrorists and could assist in the planning and carrying out of an attack,\" said the MoD\'s Director of Information, David Wray. \"This is an issue of national security given that such an attack has the potential to lead to damage or destruction of a nuclear weapon within the UK,\" he continued. \"The consequences of such an incident are likely to be considerable loss of life and severe disruption both to the British people\'s way of life and to the UK\'s ability to function effectively as a sovereign state.\" According to Dr Frank Barnaby, a nuclear physicist who used to work at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire, this clearly implied a nuclear explosion. It contradicted previous MoD assurances that weapons couldn\'t be set off by terrorists, he said. He added: \"The MoD has always maintained that terrorists couldn\'t override the safety locks. But a sophisticated group would take the bomb to bits and make it go off, killing themselves in the process.\" If a Trident warhead was exploded in central London during a working day it would kill millions of people, he pointed out. \"It would completely devastate a huge area of the city.\" Convoys of nuclear weapons travel by road about six times a year between the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire and the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport on Loch Long, north west of Glasgow. They are driven through 21 local authorities in Scotland. The MoD\'s admission was made in a letter to David Mackenzie, a campaigner with Nukewatch Scotland, a group that monitors the movement of nuclear weapons. Concerns about the safety of convoys had prompted him to file a request to the MoD under the Freedom of Information Act. \"Typically, it is only after being backed into a corner that the MoD has admitted that a terrorist attack on a nuclear weapons convoy has the potential to cause catastrophic loss of life and threaten the stability of the UK,\" Mackenzie said. \"These convoys are criminally dangerous. The answer is not to try to make them safer. The only truly safe, moral and legal answer is to decommission and dismantle our nuclear weapons.\" The MoD, however, reiterated its insistence that a nuclear explosion was impossible because warheads were transported unarmed. \"We do everything possible to prevent a terrorist attack on our nuclear convoys,\" said an MoD spokesman. \"As the Director of Information was trying to make clear, a terrorist attack does not need to cause a nuclear explosion to cause considerable disruption.\" Tomorrow, a delegation of religious and political leaders from Scotland will travel to Aldermaston to protest about plans to replace Trident with new nuclear weapons. Delegates include the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Alan McDonald, the former Lord Advocate, Lord Murray, and a representative of the Scottish Catholic Church, Dr Richard McCready. \"The delegation is going down to say that we donÂ’t want more nuclear weapons in Scotland,\" said John Ainslie, co-ordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. \"If Trident is replaced then there will be nuclear convoys on our roads for decades to come.\" WHAT THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE SAID IN FULL \"Of particular concern is that disclosure by MoD of information identifying the roads which form the convoy route network and details of the abnormal load\'s axle weights would provide valuable information to terrorists and could assist in the planning and carrying out of an attack against a convoy. This is an issue of national security given that such an attack has the potential to lead to damage or destruction of a nuclear weapon within the UK and that the consequences of such an incident are likely to be considerable loss of life and severe disruption both to the British people\'s way of life and to the UK\'s ability to function effectively as a sovereign state.\" David Wray, Director of Information, Ministry of Defence, London 4 May 2006