UK Faith Leaders Join Activists at Nuclear Arms Protest

Police officers surround protestors at a demonstration in front of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) facility in Aldermaston in Berkshire on Feb. 15, 2010. (Photo: CND)

Anglican and Catholic bishops were present on Monday during a day-long protest against the operation of a nuclear arms factory in South East England.

Anglican Bishops Stephen Cottrell, Mike Hill, and Peter Price along with Catholic Bishop Thomas McMahon were among the throng of nearly 400 campaigners who blockaded the gates of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) facility in Aldermaston in Berkshire this morning in an outcry against government spending on UK's nuclear deterrent system known as Trident.

Protestors remained chained together for nearly eight hours during the demonstration which was described by British police as "peaceful," according to BBC.

While no one was injured during the demonstration, six of the protesters were arrested on charges of trespassing and causing criminal damage to the site.

"This is the biggest blockade of Aldermaston in years and comes at a time when even major political parties are questioning the logic of spending up to £97 billion on useless weapons," activist Brian Larkin said in a statement released by advocacy group Trident Ploughshares. "It demonstrates the depth and breadth of determined civil society opposition to Trident and its planned replacement."

He continued: "Although the government now seems to have delayed the next phase of Trident replacement until after the general election, the ongoing construction of facilities at the AWE for the design, development and manufacture of new nuclear warheads is illegal and immoral and will only lead to further proliferation of nuclear weapons."

 "The time has come for the UK to disarm its nuclear weapons," protestor Sarah Lasenby from Oxford added, noting that she would like to see the UK government's active participation in the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York.

Hosted at the United Nation's headquarters in Manhattan from May 3 to 28, the NPT Review Conference is expected to hold significance, especially following U.S. President Barack Obama's speech last April in Prague, where the president pledged to work towards "a world without nuclear weapons."

"There is violence and injustice in our world that must be confronted. We must confront it not by splitting apart but by standing together as free nations, as free people," Obama said.

"I know that a call to arms can stir the souls of men and women more than a call to lay them down. But that is why the voices for peace and progress must be raised together."

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