About 60,000 individuals from different religious backgrounds came together on Saturday in London to stage a massive rally against the U.K. government's plans to revive the Trident program. The movement is being dubbed as the largest anti-nuclear campaign in a generation.
Leading the rally are leaders from various religious faiths such as Bishop Thomas McMahon of the Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, Bishop Stephen Cottrell, the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, Mohammed Kozbar of the Muslim Association of Britain and Rev Nagase of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Community.
These religious leaders, followers and supporters came from different parts of the U.K. and the world came together in an effort to stop the government from renewing its nuclear weapons program. In a statement written by the various leaders, they stressed that the use of these weapons of mass destruction threatens humanity. They also noted that government officials should focus on building international cooperation and mutual understanding with other nations to solve other serious issues such as poverty, climate change, and terrorism.
"Nuclear weapons are by their nature indiscriminate in their effect," they said in the statement according to the Independent Catholic News. "Any use of nuclear weapons would have devastating humanitarian consequences, be incompatible with International Humanitarian Law and violate the principle of dignity for every human being that is common to each of our faith traditions."
U.K.'s Trident initiative began in 1980 after the government purchased the submarine-launched Trident I C-4 missile from the U.S. to serve as the replacement for its Polaris system. It was then implemented to act as a deterrent against other nuclear threats, like what happened during the period of the Cold War.
Since the submarines commissioned to carry and launch the Trident missiles have a life expectancy of 25 years, the government has started planning on implementing a new system to replace these Vanguard-class vessels.
According to Defense Minister Philip Dunne, the allocated budget for these replacement submarines is £32 billion, or about $44.6 billion. Despite the anti-nuclear protests and campaigns, the official noted that the U.K. still needs to have a deterrent program given the current and future threats to the country and the world.
"The dangers we're facing are growing in complexity, diversity and scale," he said in a blog post. "We can't predict the threats of next week, let alone what will happen in the 2030s, the 2040s, and the 2050s. Disarming now would be a reckless gamble with our national security that would play into the hands of our enemies."