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Weapons Inspectors Find Weapons of Mass Destruction 20 miles from Cambridge

12 December 2002

At 11.30am this morning, a delegation of 8 weapons inspectors from CamSAW entered RAF Lakenheath, to confirm reports of weapons of mass destruction being held there in contravention of international law. US Air force military personnel at the base failed to cooperate, but inspectors managed to enter the base, where they saw armed planes taking off less than 100m from them, and installations which are apparently used to store nuclear weapons. They hung a banner inside the base to mark the base as a WMD site, and left unimpeded. Our inspectors are near the base at the moment, and can be contacted on 07789 260207.

RAF Lakenheath, just 20 miles from Cambridge, is home to the 48th Fighter Wing, which was used to bomb Iraq during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991, and in subsequent bombing raids on Iraq including those in 1998. The base's website confirms that "NATO and U.S. leaders have asserted that if America is needed in this region, the 48th Fighter Wing will be called out first".

Lakenheath is also the largest tactical nuclear bombing base in Europe. The USA is the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons, and both the USA and the UK have threatened to use them again if war in Iraq escalates.

CamSAW supporter Mike Lewis, hearing the news of the inspection, said: "Lakenheath demonstrates the massive hypocrisy at the heart of a "preventative" war on Iraq. The UK and US governments have yet to confirm evidence of Iraq's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and have no evidence of Iraq's intention to use them. In contrast, the presence of weapons of mass destruction at Lakenheath, including nuclear weapons held in contravention of international law, meets the UN standards of evidence - and our governments' stated intention of war, specifically advocating the use of the weapons and planes at Lakenheath, certainly meets the requirement of intention."

Another CamSAW supporter, Josh Robinson, said: "I think it's disgusting that the USA are allowed to be in possession of these illegal weapons, but the thought that our government is letting them keep them on British soil is simply perverse. Our inspectors, being able to gain access to the base, have also demonstrated that these weapons are clearly not kept securely, posing a grave threat to the local population, and to the dangers of nuclear proliferation worldwide."

Notes for editors:

1) RAF Lakenheath, located 20 miles northeast of Cambridge, is two miles from the village of Lakenheath. It is the largest US Air Force-operated base in England, and the most important tactical nuclear bombing base in Europe. It has 33 operational Weapon Storage and Security System (WS3) vaults. Each bunker can hold two B-61 tactical nuclear weapons, with an explosive yield of between 0.4 and 80 kilotons.

2) The 48th Fighter Wing at Lakenheath is the US Air Force in Europe's only F-15 Fighter Wing. It has a long history of use in the Gulf, being the first F-111 fighter unit to deploy in the First Gulf War in 1991, and was involved in bombing in 1998 and since. NATO and U.S. leaders have asserted that if America is needed again in this region, the 48th Fighter Wing will be called out first see

3) There is strong legal evidence that Britain and the USA's nuclear arsenals are illegal. Britain is yet to implement its commitments under the 2000 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension when, with the four other declared Nuclear Weapons State, it gave an "unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals", and committed to taking 13 practical steps to achieve that goal. The government has since refused to make a firm commitment that the Trident nuclear weapons system will not be replaced or refurbished; and has suggested that it would consider a nuclear first strike option against an enemy state or organisation. The USA's July 2002 Nuclear Posture Review contradicts 13 points of the NPT.

4) On 28th September, an unprecedented 400,000 people took to the streets of London to show their belief that bombing Iraq would be an unjustified war of aggression, simply not justified by the scant evidence of Saddam Hussein's imminent capabilities or intentions. Nelson Mandela has condemned US war-mongering, saying "one country wants to bully the world. We must not allow that" (17 September 2002).

5) A report by UK medical organisation MedACT ('Collateral Damage: the health and environmental costs of war on Iraq, 12th November 2002), estimates that the total of possible deaths on all sides during the conflict and the following three months, excluding the possibilities of civil war within Iraq and nuclear attacks, ranges from 48,716 to 261,100.

6) Cambridge Students Against the War (CamSAW) was founded as a response to USA's 'war on terror' and attack on Afghanistan in 2001. With another unjustified war imminent, this coalition of students from Cambridge University, Anglia Polytechnic University and local higher education and sixth form colleges will remain. .

Cambridge Students Against the War (CamSAW) Media Release

Stop killing the people of Iraq     Opposition to nuclear weapons index


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