Published on Monday, February 9, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
US Using British Atomic Weapons Factory for Its Nuclear Program
• Joint warhead research carried out at Aldermaston • Work breaches nuclear treaty, campaigners warn
by Matthew Taylor and Richard Norton-Taylor
Anti-nuclear campaigners gather at the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) on March 24, 2008 in
The Ministry of Defense admitted it is working with the
Last night, opposition MPs called for a full parliamentary inquiry into the extent of the collaboration at Aldermaston and campaign groups warned any such deal was in breach of international law. They added that it also undermined
Kate Hudson, of CND, said: "Any work preparing the way for new warheads cuts right across the
Nick Harvey, defense spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said parliament and the country would react with "outrage" at the prospect of British taxpayers funding a new
"All this backroom dealing and smoke and mirrors policy is totally unacceptable, the government must open the Aldermaston accounts to full parliamentary scrutiny," he added.
The extent of US involvement at Aldermaston came to light in an interview with John Harvey, policy and planning director at the US National Nuclear Security Administration, carried out last year by the thinktanks Chatham House and the Center for Strategic Studies.
Referring to "dual axis hydrodynamic" experiments which, with the help of computer modeling, replicate the conditions inside a warhead at the moment it starts to explode, Harvey said: "There are some capabilities that the UK has that we don't have and that we borrow... that I believe we have been able to exploit that's been very valuable to us."
It is unclear whether the experiments are still being carried out but, in the same interview, Harvey admitted that the US and UK had struck a new deal over the level of cooperation, including work on US plans for a new generation of nuclear warhead known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW). He said: "We have recently, I can't tell you when, taken steps to amend the MDA [Mutual Defense Agreement], not only to extend it but to amend it to allow for a broader extent of cooperation than in the past, and this has to do with the RRW effort."
Campaigners said the comments represent the first direct evidence that the
The MoD admitted the two countries are working together, "examining both the optimum life of the
Congress has stopped funding research into RRW but campaigners believe the
"Billions of pounds have been poured into the Atomic Weapons Establishment over recent years to build new research facilities," said
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