`Weapons Inspectors' Storm RAF Air Base; but Protest Group Fail in Mission to Check for Mass Destruction Arms

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), January 21, 2003 | Go to article overview
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`Weapons Inspectors' Storm RAF Air Base; but Protest Group Fail in Mission to Check for Mass Destruction Arms


Byline: Eryl Crump

POLICE surrounded peace protesters yesterday as they entered a North Wales military base.

Six members of Cymdeithas y Cymod, wearing white boiler suits, climbed over a fence at RAF Valley, Anglesey, and began walking towards two Jaguar fighter-bombers.

They were quickly encircled by RAF police, helped by officers from the North Wales force.

The protesters finally climbed back over the fence and dispersed after a 20-minute standoff with police. The protesters said they wanted to carry out an inspection of the base to promote the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction located in Wales. Led by their own self-proclaimed ``Chief Weapons Inspector'' and carrying clipboards and cameras, the group wanted to satisfy themselves there were no weapons of mass destruction stored at Valley. Protester Gwyn Williams said: ``We are very concerned and want to carry out an inspection of the base. A visual inspection of the munitions store will be imperative. We also want to ascertain what proportion of Hawk jet pilots in training at RAF Valley go on to fly aeroplanes that carry nuclear weapons.'' But the group were refused entry and failed to discover whether aircraft using the base were capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction. RAF spokesman Squadron Leader Mark Byrne said: ``I am not allowed to comment on the weapons carried by aircraft from Valley.

``The role of RAF Valley as a training base for fast jet pilots and search and rescue helicopter pilots is well known.'' Cymdeithas y Cymod spokeswoman Anna Jane Evans said citizens' inspection teams were mushrooming around the world in the wake of nuclear testing in the Indian sub continent. ``Although this was the first inspection of this type in Wales, in the past year there have been citizens' inspections at Nato headquarters in Belgium, the Trident submarine base in Scotland and the RAF/USAF base at Fairford in Gloucestershire, the home of the B-2 bomber, the most expensive aircraft ever made,'' she said.

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