Trident Ploughshares, 16. november 2000:
Maytime Disarmer Challenges High Court to Declare Trident Illegal
At the continuing hearing in the High Court in Edinburgh of the Lord
Advocate's Reference, which is reviewing the trial of the Trident
Angie Zelter, in her second submission to the court, has issued a
challenge to the bench to put an end to "uncomfortable fudging" and
their ruling that Trident is illegal.
Angie, surrounded by QCs and Advocates, was one of the three women who
action against the Trident barge Maytime and is now representing
the highest court in the land. Referring to the claim that a Trident
could be justified as the use of reasonable force against an
pointed out that a nuclear response was not at all like hitting a
back on the nose. A more reasonable analogy would be standing prepared
any minute to burn down the bully's home, thus murdering the bully's
and endangering the whole neighbourhood.
In order to demonstrate the imminent danger posed by nuclear
quoted extensively from a speech by General Lee Butler, former
Chief of the US Strategic Command. Butler was convinced that, "We
the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill,
and divine intervention, . ." and he pointed out that the US nuclear
were still on hair-trigger alert. Responding to the claim that
the intervention of ordinary citizens would lead to anarchy she
that, " . far from being anarchic, it is the mark of a civilised
that its members are prepared to assist in the maintenance of good
She poured scorn on the concept that the practice of the nuclear
deploying nuclear weapons weakened the case against them in
law. It that were true, the law could protect no-one from violence.
at length from the ICJ Dissenting Opinion of Judge Weeramantry she
that threat was the very essence of nuclear deterrence. She said that
ability of the court to examine the core questions properly had been
seriously hindered by the failure to allow the evidence that had been
presented at Greenock. That evidence had proved that the women's
been capable of preventing crime.
In conclusion, she asked the court to make a number of statements
to the applicability of humanitarian law to Scotland, to the right of
ordinary citizens to act to uphold the law and the responsibility of
members of the armed forces to obey international law re Trident.
The judges followed her submission attentively and did not interrupt.
she finished people in the public gallery stood up in salute. "She was
brilliant!" said fellow Maytime disarmer Ulla Roder.
Earlier, the Crown attempted to "rubbish" Sheriff Margaret Gimblett's
conduct of the Greenock case and the quality and relevance of the
expert witnesses. QC Duncan Menzies claimed that Professor Francis
and Professor Paul Rogers, expert witnesses at Greenock, had not
any valid evidence to the court, but had relied on hearsay and press
reports for their assertions. He said that Sheriff Gimblett should not
admitted them and should have left the verdict with the jury.
Menzies gave what he claimed was a hypothetical example of the legal
Trident. If a Chinese ship armed with nuclear weapons was sailing
New Zealand with a declared intent to fire, an ally of New Zealand
fire a nuclear weapon at the ship and this could be legal, since no
innocent civilians were involved.
When the QC claimed that the existence of the Non Proliferation Treaty
implied some acceptance of the legality of nuclear weapons Lord
rejoined that the existence of negotiations to de-commission IRA
bore no implication that these weapons were legal.
The hearing is expected to conclude tomorrow with the judgement due in
Angie's submission is on the TP website at tridentploughshares.org