Many Protesters Gather In Central London To Kick Against Spending On Nuclear Weapons [Photos]

Tens of thousands of people gathered in central London on Saturday to protest against the UK government’s plans to renew the country’s costly nuclear weapons program.

The protest was led by opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, alongside politicians, actors, musicians and other public figures.

The protest was dubbed “Stop Trident”.  The Trident Nuclear Deterrent covers the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them in the United Kingdom.

What triggered the protest is the UK government’s—led by David Cameron—plans to renew the country’s Trident nuclear program, which was very active in the 1980s.

 

The plan has already been put forward before parliament, and lawmakers are due to vote on funding later in the year. RT English News reports that the estimated cost of this new nuclear program, is estimated to be around £170 billion.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the cost of four new submarines capable of carrying nuclear warheads will be around £31bn over the next 20 years. £10bn will be reserved as a contingency fund.

The Tory MP Crispin Blunt said figures he obtained last year on the Trident program, are very high. The cost of manufacturing and running Trident until 2060 is more than £167bn, about 6% of the total defence budget.

The protesters first gathered at the Marble Arch, then marched to Trafalgar Square to hear speaker after speaker criticize the government’s plan to renew the country’s nuclear submarine program. Sturgeon denounced Trident as “immoral” and “impractical”, while Mr Corbyn said he believed in a“nuclear-free Britain and a nuclear-free future.”

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Mr Corbyn told the crowd: “If a nuclear war took place, there would be mass destruction on both sides of the conflict. We live in a world where so many things are possible, where peace is possible in so many places. You don’t achieve peace by planning for war … and not respecting … human rights. Today’s demonstration is an expression of many … opinions and views. I’m here because I believe in a nuclear-free Britain and a nuclear-free future.”

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Attendance was massive. According to the Guardian, the march also attracted people from other countries. Protesters from as far away as Australia attended the protest in full solidarity with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), according to the paper. Chair of the CND, Caroline Lucas, described nuclear weaponry as “a cold war relic”, saying “To contemplate using nuclear weapons is both illegal and immoral.”

Protesters demanded that Prime Minister Cameron be kicked out of office for being a warmonger, expressing their support for the Labour opposition leader, Mr Corbyn. Some of the protesters also remembered the Hyde Park rally of 1983, when more than 300,000 people stepped out to tell the then government to stop the nuclear program. The major concern for the protesters was the cost of renewing the Trident program. Many carried placards reading “Books, Not Bombs” or “Cut War, Not Welfare” or the “NHS, Not Trident”. The protesters believe that in a period of austerity, like what is currently happening in the country, ‘useless spending’ on defence is totally unnecessary.

“We’re totally mystified why they could spend so much public money on something that is totally useless,” said Dalley, who was arrested outside the US embassy in the 1970s during an anti-nuclear-missile protest.

“Back then we thought it was the end of the world. Now it just seems so out of date, so redundant,”said Potter, a retired teacher.

Some observers who attended the Saturday march also said the gathering re-ignited the anti-Trident passions of the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

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