Looks like Britain’s getting some shiny new weapons of mass destruction.

The nuclear power plant at Aldermaston in Berkshire has recently been given a bountiful budget increase. Nagasaki mushroom cloud Not just your average inflationary rise: the budget has doubled. A hefty £2 billion of our tax will go to the Aldermaston plant over the next 3 years.

The Government claim the 100% increase in funding is to maintain the existing Trident warheads, and certainly not because they are planning to build new ones.

Yet the Aldermaston plant admits it is also planning to recruit 1,000 extra staff as a result of this budgetary increase. How many nuclear physicists does it take to change a lightbulb? How many to “maintain” existing weapons?

One local newspaper in the Berkshire area notes: “Both AWE and the Ministry of Defence have denied the money means the go-ahead has been given to build a new generation of missiles at the site. … But there is no explanation why 1,000 new jobs are needed if Trident’s successor is not to be built.”

The (uncredited) reporter asked a spokesperson for the Atomic Weapons Establishment for an explanation. And she or he received this response: “People are leaving all the time – it’s ensuring we have the skills base to carry out our mission. We are not building a Trident successor and any decision to do so will be a Government decision. Ministers have made it clear in published statements no decision has yet been made.”

Not many businesses increase their workforce by 25% on the offchance that a few staff might leave. I think we’re getting ourselves armed to the teeth, my friends.

So it’s just as well countries like Iran are developing their own nuclear programmes really. How else are they to counter the mafia-style threats of rogue states like Britain and America?

And, closer to home, the cancer rate in Newbury, West Berkshire (the area where the Aldermaston plant is situated) is 40% above the national average (original study source: Berkshire Health Authority, 1997). So local residents probably won’t be welcoming the news of renewed arms production either.

We are officially in the Axis of Stupid.