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1983: Human chain links nuclear sites

VIDEO : Images from the 'Nuclear Valley' protest

Tens of thousands of peace demonstrators have formed a human chain stretching 14 miles (22.5 kilometres) across a southern English county.

They lined a route along what the protesters call "Nuclear Valley" in Berkshire.

The chain started at the American airbase at Greenham Common, passed the Aldermaston nuclear research centre and ended at the ordnance factory in Burghfield.

Actress Julie Christie was one of a number of celebrities who joined in the event organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

CND said a total of 80,000 people took part but a police spokesman put the number at 40,000.

The event was the climax of a week of anti-nuclear activities across England in the run-up to Easter.

After completing the "peace chain" a rally was held near Aldermaston.

'Kremlin's April Fools'

CND's leader, Monsignor Bruce Kent, said he was "delighted" with the turnout.

But Defence Minister Michael Heseltine called the demonstrators "misguided" and "nave".

At one point a plane flew overhead trailing a banner reading "CND - Kremlin's April Fools".

It had been sent up by a group opposed to CND - the Coalition for Peace through Security.

A number of extreme left-wing groups, including Trotskyites, were present at the event but the demonstration passed off peacefully.

The only trouble was at Greenham Common where nearly 200 members of the women's peace camp based outside the airbase scaled the perimeter fence.

However, they were immediately caught by police on the other side and escorted off the premises.

The CND rally was held at about the same time as 15,000 people took part in the first of a series of anti-nuclear marches in West Germany.

They are protesting against the siting of American missiles on West German territory.

In Context
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was at the peak of its popularity and influence during the mid-1980s.

It was founded in 1958 at the height of the Cold War and began to stage annual marches attended by thousands from Trafalgar Square in London to the nuclear research base at Aldermaston in Berkshire.

The organisation went into decline during a thaw in relations between the superpowers in the 1970s.

But it was revitalised in the 1980s as a result of the decision to site American Cruise and Pershing missiles in Britain and several other Western European countries.

In 1998 CND had approximately 40,000 members, down from a high of 100,000.


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