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Scottish Delegation Refused Access to Aldermaston

A Group of Scottish politicians and religious leaders were denied access to AWE Aldermaston.Their visit was to investigate claims that the site is pro ducing the next generation of nuclear weapons. Nuclear chiefs refused to allow the delegation onto the site, arguing that the protestors should take their case to the Government. They were turned away by the armed Ministry of Defence police who guard the base. Despite the ban the delegation said they wanted to see the proposed site for a new £100 million laser, which could be used within five years to test the effectiveness of nuclear warheads.The delegation, which included former Lord Advocate of Scotland Lord Ronald King Murray and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev Alan McDonald, said it had written to the base requesting a meeting on two occasions, but had been turned down. So instead they read out a list of demands to the Government. The group demanded that the Government should disclose to Parliament the proposals for developments at AWE Aldermaston and said they wanted more of Aldermaston’s resources to be focussed on disarmament and nuclear decommissioning. Nuclear Information Service (NIS) spokeswoman Di McDonald aid: “This was a fact finding mission which reflected the widespread Scottish opposition to nuclear weapons.“But AWE refused our request for the meeting and we are still trying to find out why.” AWE Aldermaston defended its decision to stop the delegation touring the site. Alan Price, spokesman for AWE, said: “The request was declined as the question of investment in AWE, both its purpose and magnitude, is a matter of Government policy. “As such it is outside the remit of AWE plc which manages and operates the AWE sites as a contractor. “In our response to the Scottish delegation we asked them to refer any questions or concerns to the MoD and we directed them to publically available sources of information about the site development plans at AWE.” The Right Rev McDonald said: \"If no decision has been made on whether to replace Trident then why are billions flowing into Aldermaston? \"The Government should listen to the findings of Hans Blix\'s new WMD report which clearly calls for the UK to refrain from developing new weapons, as such a move would encourage a new arms race.\" AWE received planning permission to construct a building to house the new Orion laser last year. The current laser has been in operation for 25 years and the new laser is due to be operational in 2011. The Orion laser will also monitor the stock of Trident nuclear weapons, but the Government has refuted claims that the laser will be used to develop the next generation of nuclear warheads. A decision on whether to replace the ageing Trident nuclear deterrent is due to be taken before the next General Election.