US company Jacob's Engineering buys into AWE Aldermaston
A third share of AWE ml, the joint venture company contracted to run AWE Aldermaston, has been sold to a US company. Jacobs' Engineering now joins US arms giant Lockheed Martin and UK-based facilities management company SERCO as part of AWE ml.
Despite reports in the press, the sell-off of the share - formerly owned by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd - is no surprise to Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp(aign). Women from the camp have been closely following developments at the nuclear weapons site since 2002 when AWE announced its plans for a massive redevelopment, which - despite government denials - will equip the site to design, test and build a new generation of nuclear warheads.
"Those in the press and in parliament who have declared their surprise at the sell-off have obviously not been paying attention to what's been going on at Aldermaston", said a spokeswoman for Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp. "The sale of BNFL's share was announced in March 2007 when BNFL was sold off by the government, and in March 2008 it was reported in the press that Jacob's Engineering was one of two companies whose bids for BNFL's share remained in contention."
"MPs and the media should instead be expressing outrage that the UK government is going ahead with a programme to build new warheads, with no parliamentary authority, with no support from the British people, and, given the current economic situation, spending billions on new nuclear weapons facilities seems particularly deranged", AWPC said.
Jacobs Engineering is no stranger to Aldermaston. In December 2004 they were awarded a three-year contract to manage the government's £1bn investment programme. This contract was renewed on 4 March 2008.
Meanwhile in December 2005 it was announced that Bob Irvin ex-Operations Director of Jacobs Engineering had joined the board of AWE plc - in which the government still holds a "golden share". In September 2006 Jacobs formed part of the Integrated Project Team established to project manage the £183 million Orion laser facility, now nearing completion.
It's also no surprise that Jacobs is a US company. After all, the current Trident missiles are leased from the US, and made by Lockheed Martin; the warheads are developed in conjunction with US scientists at Los Alamos and other US labs, and the whole exchange programme has been run since 1958 under the UK-US Mutual Defence Agreement (the only agreement in the world that sanctions the exchange of nuclear weapons technologies). Jacobs Engineering are already involved in US nuclear-weapons facilities at Los Alamos, PanTex and Y-12.
Jacobs are also involved in other aspects of the UK's nuclear chain, including in the construction of the Faslane Shiplift; the RD57 Project at Rosyth, and the D154 Project at Devonport including design management for 9 Dock, the new facility for Vanguard Class submarines.
For Jacob's previous involvement at AWE Aldermaston, see AWPC's 2006 Submission to the Defence Select Commitee
A two-page briefing on Jacobs and Aldermaston is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.