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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007, 15:44 GMT
Academics protest against Trident
Faslane demonstration
Academics and students gathered from the UK, Japan and the US
An international group of academics is staging a protest against weapons of mass destruction at the gates of the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde.

Prime Minister Tony Blair announced plans late last year to upgrade Trident at a cost of up to 20bn.

The move forced one Scottish Executive minister to resign and a BBC survey found a majority of Scottish MPs opposed replacing the missile system.

But community leaders say the jobs from the base are vital to the area.

A delegation of students, from Oxford, Cambridge, Sussex and Edinburgh, have also been camping out at the naval base.

Nuclear weapons are not peaceful and go against international law
Anne-Marie O'Reilly
Oxford graduate

They were joined by the academics on Sunday to protest and stage a blockade.

Anne-Marie O'Reilly, 22, an Oxford graduate, said she hoped the weekend's activities would make the government sit up and take notice.

She said: "It is a really important issue, that we have got nuclear weapons, because by the end of this year the government wants to spend at least another 20bn on them.

"Hopefully our voices will be heard and they will see that nuclear weapons are not peaceful and go against international law."

Papers were presented on civil disobedience, the militarisation of academia and the status of nuclear weapons in national and international law.

Professor Lynn Jamieson, from Edinburgh University, said: "It's a very momentous time at the moment, deciding to try and commit Britain to nuclear weapons until the middle of this century and building a new system, so I feel it's time to be counted in whatever way possible."

TRIDENT MISSILE SYSTEM
Trident
Missile length: 44ft (13m)
Weight: 130,000lb (58,500kg)
Diameter: 74 inches (1.9m)
Range: More than 4,600 miles (7,400km)
Power plant: Three stage solid propellant rocket
Cost: 16.8m ($29.1m) per missile
Source: Federation of American Scientists

The protests come as the Roman Catholic Church re-iterates its opposition to the renewal of Trident.

A pastoral letter to be read out at all Masses in Scotland from Bishop Peter Moran, the Bishop of Aberdeen, warns that violence comes in many forms, including in people's attitudes.

The letter states: "We are all aware of the suicide bombs, the revenge-driven attacks, the indiscriminate slaughter, the wholesale devastation. We can see violence breeding violence.

"Yet people who would never consider such barbarous behaviour, people who long for peace just as we do, are still prepared to threaten death and devastation, out of fear.

"The world's most powerful governments, including our own, seem determined to base our security on having nuclear weapons available."

The letter urges Catholics to contact their MPs and make their views and the views of the Church known.

However, Dumbarton Labour MSP Jackie Baillie insists that Faslane jobs are vital to the area.

She claims that 7,000 people work directly at the base, with another 4,000 jobs dependent on it locally.

Last month Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm resigned from his post after voting with the Scottish National Party in a debate on Trident.


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