Britain’s secretive nuclear weapons research organisation gives over £8 million a year in research funding to more than 50 universities, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), a private consortium that runs nuclear bomb plants at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), puts most of the money into five of the UK’s leading universities with which it has formed “strategic alliances”.
They are Imperial College in London, and the universities of Cambridge, Bristol, Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh and Cranfield in Bedfordshire and Wiltshire. The money helps fund research into plasma physics, high performance computing, materials science and hydrodynamics, all of which are important for designing and making nuclear weapons.
The report, which is being launched on 12 February at University College London, claims to be the first to expose the extent of AWE’s links with universities. It is based on responses under freedom of information law from the MoD and universities.
It is being published by two groups campaigning for nuclear disarmament, Nuclear Information Service (NIS) and Medact, which brings together health professionals. They accept that not all of the research will directly help the UK’s nuclear weapons programme, but say that much of it will.