A military convoy was spotted carrying up to six nuclear warheads headed along the motorway through Glasgow to an arms depot on Friday.
The convoy was seen only a mile south of Glasgow city centre, heading to Royal Naval Armaments Depot Coulport on Loch Long, according to NukeWatch, an organisation that tracks and monitors the convoys that transport the UK’s Trident nuclear warheads.
The weapons of mass destruction were a ‘reminder of the UK’s contribution to nuclear terror,’ the group said, amid heighting tensions between NATO and Russia – which recently put its own nuclear weapons on high alert.
The route is a common one for UK defense vehicles, where Trident nuclear warheads were also spotted in May 2021, according to Glasgow Live.
The nuclear-armed convoy passed over Erskine Bridge, heading up along the M6 motorway near Kendal, before being spotted on the M74 at Lesmahagow and arriving in Loch Long at approximately 11:30pm on Saturday.
‘I think there were four warhead carriers I believe. Our reckoning is that each of those trucks can carry two but one of the trucks is empty as a spare in case breaks down,’ Nukewatch UK Campaigner Jane Tallents said.
‘So if there’s four we expect there to be six warheads, or up to six warheads anyway.’
NukeWatch said the timing was ‘alarming’ given Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, but added the transportation of nuclear weapons along the route is ‘routine’.
‘There hasn’t been one since October last year which is a bit strange. But there was a bit of a flurry in the end,’ said Tallents. ‘There must be some reasoning in their madness but they’d never enlighten us [as to] what that is.’
Nukewatch said the purpose of the nuclear movement was likely refurbishment, not an attempt to arm the warheads in anticipation of a Russian attack.
‘I don’t think this convoy is of any more concern than the fact that we are always, 24/7, armed and ready to start a nuclear war,’ said Tallents, later adding: ‘All the things that some of us have worried about constantly since the 60s, they come to pass really. People have forgotten about it but they are there.’
The nuclear spotting comes at a time when nuclear missiles in Russia have been put on high alert following Vladimir Putin’s stalled invasion of Ukraine, starting a war analysts fear could bring nuclear-armed NATO powers like the UK to clash with the Kremlin.
Only five days ago, the UK’s Ministry of Defence began advertising for a £40k-a-year chief to oversee threat of nuclear warheads, calling the current geopolitical climate a ‘genuinely exciting time’.
The £40,000-per-year role at the Defence Nuclear Organisation focused on mitigating ‘threats across the nuclear spectrum’.
According to the posting on the Gov.uk website, the DNO oversees ‘all aspects of nuclear business within the MoD’, including submarines, nuclear warheads and ‘day-to-day nuclear policy’.
The Royal Naval Armament Depot Coulport is the site of a nuclear near-miss involving a rare traffic accident in April 1973, according to the Secretary of State for Defence.
Near the Coulport site in April 1973, a Scottish Electricity Board Land Rover reversed into a RAF nuclear weapon load carrier transporting nuclear warheads.
The vehicle contained UGM-27 Polaris missiles, with each missile able to deliver three ET.317 thermonuclear warheads
The crash damaged the load carrier, but the nuclear weapons were reported unharmed.
In another incident at the same site, a Polaris missile fell when it was being lifted during re-alignment in 1977.
On the M8 near Glasgow in August 1983, a RAF nuclear weapons carrier moving two warheads crashed into a private car.
In another near miss, the British submarine HMS Vanguard collided with a French nuclear submarine in 2009, damaging the vessels, but with no radioactivity leaks reported.
There have been seven accidents involving British nuclear weapons in total since 1966. None have yet resulted in radioactive leaks.