36 scientists including ex-Royal Society head Sir Michael Atiyah and Nobel Prize winner Sir Harold Kroto have called on the Prime Minister to protect core scientific research by cutting development in new nuclear weapons. £2bn a year, over 25% of the government’s total scientific R&D budget, is currently spent by the MoD.

Scientists Call for Axe to Fall on Nuclear Weapons Research

Press Release: Wednesday 13 October 2010.

36 science professors have today written to the Prime Minister calling on
him to protect core scientific research by cutting investment in developing new nuclear weapons.

The scientists, who include ex-Royal Society head, Sir Michael Atiyah and
Nobel Prize winner, Sir Harold Kroto, highlight how £2bn a year, over 25%
of the government’s total scientific research and development budget, is
currently spent by the Ministry of Defence.

Their objections focus on government funding of a multi-billion pound
research programme at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston,
aimed at developing new nuclear warheads. This year this science programme
received an additional £1bn of government funding, and this level of
additional investment is set to continue until 2013.

These funds have enabled Aldermaston to buy 3 new supercomputers in the
last year, the latest reportedly the most powerful in the UK, at
undisclosed cost to the taxpayer. They are also set to fund a
controversial new hydrodynamics facility that will conduct experiments on
materials used to build nuclear warheads – again at undisclosed cost.

These developments are going ahead despite serious questions existing
about the future of the UK’s nuclear weapons programme and a recent pledge
by Obama that the US will not develop new nuclear warheads.

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global
Responsibility who co-ordinated the letter said, “It’s completely
irrational to cut scientific research into medical and environmental
problems whilst pouring billions of pounds of research money into
facilities for designing new nuclear warheads.”

He continued, “The Cold War is over. The major security threats we will
face in the coming years have their roots in problems like climate change
and resource shortages. These are the areas where more of our research
should be focussed, and yet the UK currently devotes 20 times more
research funding to military projects than to renewable energy. If cuts
have to come, it’s clear to us that Aldermaston is where the axe should
fall.”