(photo: nuclear weapons convoy, credit: Nukewatch)
What do you expect to see on British roads? Cars? Yes. Potholes? Yes. Vans with ‘please clean me’ written in the dirt on their backdoor? Inevitably. Ice cream vans? In summer, yes. Nuclear weapons? Probably not.
It might come as a surprise – I have to admit, it did to me when I started my job with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons UK (ICAN-UK) – but nuclear weapons are routinely transported on British roads. These weapons of mass destruction frequently make trips from their base in Scotland to the refurbishment plant in Berkshire. When they do they pass by homes, workplaces, schools, and hospitals in the biggest cities in the UK outside of London: Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Preston, Leeds, Manchester, and Glasgow to name but a few.
A single nuclear sub carries enough power to kill more than 10 million people.
But as well as being an unthinkable threat, these convoys present a clear opportunity. Too often nuclear weapons are treated as being ‘out of sight, out of mind’; as something that we supposedly need but would never use.
In the same way that fracking has rudely brought the climate change debate right into the lives of Middle England, so these nuclear convoys give a very visual reminder of Britain’s continuing possession of nuclear weapons, the danger they pose to the public here in Britain, and to people the world over.
That’s why ICAN-UK, supported by a coalition of groups, have launched a campaign aimed at raising public awareness of these convoys. And this campaign could not have come at a better time. Right now over 130 countries of the United Nations are working on a treaty that will ban nuclear weapons.
That’s right, a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Such a legal treaty, following in the footsteps of the ones already covering chemical and biological weapons, is a real possibility. The UK government has decided to take the moral low-ground and is boycotting these talks. But, with every day that passes and every debate at the UN, our government is being left further behind. That feeling of isolation coupled with a vocal campaign from British communities calling for the scrapping of Trident could force to change its position.
Please therefore do whatever you can to get involved in our ‘Nukes of Hazard’ campaign. Visit our new website to sign our petition and find out how to contact your local MP. And, if you can, come along to one our public meetings taking place in Birmingham, Newcastle, and Preston – meetings that we will use to light the touchpaper and start the process of building new community campaigns to carry the anti-Trident message.
Join us and we’ll make sure that power is invested in people and compassion, not in the destruction of humanity.