Peace campaigners gather for week of protest

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of campaigners are gathering for a protest outside Britain's nuclear weapons establishment as possibly the most far-reaching nuclear treaty ever is agreed.

Hundreds of campaigners are gathering for a protest outside Britain's nuclear weapons establishment as possibly the most far-reaching nuclear treaty ever is agreed.

A 60-strong crowd was encamped outside the perimeter fencing at AWE Aldermaston, near Reading in Berkshire, which is responsible for making, maintaining and decommisioning Britain's nuclear arsenal, with hundreds more expected to arrive in the course of the day.

The protesters were gathering on the morning news broke that Britain and the four other major nuclear powers had signed a nuclear non-proliferation treaty which laid the ground for the complete scrapping of their nuclear arsenals.

Part of AWE's work relates to the verification and monitoring of non-proliferation treaties as well as maintaining the country's nuclear deterrent.

The treaty marks the first time that the nuclear powers have accepted they have an obligation to disarm.

On the first night of the protest police made four arrest for alleged criminal damage to fencing. Ulla Roder, 45, from Odense in Denmark, Roger Franklin, 72, from Stroud, Glos, and Joan Meredith, 70, from Alnwick in Northumberland were all released on bail on condition is that they do not go within five miles of the base.

Zoe Weir, 24, from Faslane, Scotland, was arrested under Section 69 of the Criminal Justice Act for failing to respond to a warning of trespass.

Protest organisers, Trident Ploughshares 2000, plan to hold a mass blockade of the base tomorrow claiming the establishment "makes the hardware for mass murder".

The pressure group has called for "responsible citizens to do whatever they can to prevent its criminal operations"

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