A few weeks ago I went to Faslane in Scotland; to HM Naval Base Clyde where the submarines carrying UK nuclear weapons are based.
I went as part of a group from the 15th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns. The people in the group were from five countries. It was the last day of our conference. I shall write a further post about our group’s visit. In this post I thought I’d write simply about my personal reaction to seeing, and standing outside, the base.
That evening I wrote; “Still feeling quiet, and part of me frightened and frozen inside. Went to HM Naval Base Clyde today, where submarines carrying the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons are based. Almost impossible to take in the horror, alongside the beauty.”
Looking through the photos from the day, starting to write this post today, I feel scared again.
We stopped before we got to the base. It was a beautiful, sunny, frosty December morning. We looked out over Gare Loch. It was a stunning view. Wispy clouds hovered over the calm water. I longed to walk in the gentle hills beyond.
And yet in the foreground – unspeakable horror. Created by human beings. The naval base housing the UK’s nuclear weapons. Weapons of mass destruction.
Trying to take it in.
Here are some facts about Trident, the UK’s nuclear weapons system, from CND’s website:
Trident is Britain’s nuclear weapons system. It is made up of four nuclear submarines which can each carry up to eight missiles on board. In turn, each missile can carry up to five nuclear warheads, all around eight times as destructive as the bomb which flattened Hiroshima in 1945. A Trident submarine patrols the seas at all times.
Trying to take it in.
The UK’s nuclear weapons are based here. They are carried on submarines based here. Here, at this naval base in Scotland. In front of me.
It is almost impossible to imagine the horror that would be unleashed if just one of these nuclear weapons were ever used.
We went down to the base. I took this photo standing near South Gate. At first glance it could be a holiday photo. But it’s not. It’s not.
The South Gate looked daunting, but not terrifying. It was thinking about what the base is capable of, that I began to feel very small, scared. That the UK feels it is OK to threaten our fellow human beings with these weapons, feels it is OK to threaten our world with that devastation. That is the horror.
We then went to the North Gate. I needed to be still, and quiet, and stare. Trying to take it in. Not able to take it in.
Impossible to take in. But standing there. Physically seeing it. Being close to it. Shivering from it. Seeing the fence. Seeing it being guarded. A little bit of the reality seeps in.
The National Audit Office forecast that the UK would spend £5.2 billion on its nuclear weapons programme in 2018 / 2019. Conscience: Taxes For Peace Not War campaigns for a change in the law in the UK so that we can opt for the military part of our taxes to go to peaceful purposes instead.
Quotation about Trident nuclear weapons:
From the website of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND): https://cnduk.org/resources/stop-trident-facts/
Photographs from Hiroshima:
By U.S. Navy Public Affairs Resources Website – http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/images/historical/hiroshima.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91928, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshima#/media/File:Hiroshima_aftermath.jpg
UN Photo/Yoshito Matsushige. https://news.un.org/en/story/2018
By US government, Post-Work: User:W.wolny – ibiblio.org a collaboration of the centerforthepublicdomain.org, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=256170 https://en.wikdia.org/wiki/Hiroshima_(book)#/media/File:AtomicEffects-Hiroshima.jpgipe
Photographs from Faslane: Karen Robinson
Figure of £5.2 billion in 2018 / 2019: