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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Six arrests in nuclear break-in
The activists at AWE Burghfield, near Reading
The activists broke into the nuclear weapons site to distribute leaflets
Six peace activists have been arrested at one of Britain's key sites for the production of nuclear warheads.

The protesters, from Norwich, Leeds, Leicester and London, cut their way into the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Burghfield, west Berkshire.

They say they were prompted by photos allegedly showing rank and file US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) police confirmed five women and one man breached the perimeter fence.

An alarm was set off and all six were arrested within a few minutes, an MoD police spokesman said.

'Illegal order'

A spokesman for the activists, Dr Rupert Read, a senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia, watched as they entered the site at 1145 BST on Tuesday.

He told BBC News Online: "They cut a hole into the outer perimeter fence so they could distribute leaflets to the base personnel to make them aware of the Geneva Convention - that if they know they have been given an illegal order, they do not have to carry it out."

A statement from the activists said they had been prompted to take action after recent photographs in the media allegedly showed rank and file US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.

The six people arrested were a 47-year-old history teacher, a 19-year-old house wife, a 43-year-old single parent, a 30-year-old violin teacher, a 27-year-old sustainable policy adviser and a 25-year-old university researcher.

The AWE is a private contractor of the MoD.

The Burghfield base is one of Britain's two main nuclear weapons plants, the other being at nearby Aldermaston.

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