Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sub stirst turbulent reaction in Campo

A British nuclear powered submarine that played a key role during the Iraq war arrived in Gibraltar yesterday and, in a now familiar sequence of events, sparked alarm in Spain.

HMS Turbulent was one of two British submarines - the other being HMS Splendid - which fired numerous Tomahawk missiles at targets in Baghdad during the start of the war in 2003.

The submarine docked just five days after the departure from the Rock of another Trafalgar class submarine, HMS Trenchant, which spent five days in Gibraltar and last week generated ample controversy across the border.

Spanish environmental campaigners and regional politicians were highly critical at the time and called for an end to such visits by nuclear submarines.

But in a re-run of events last week, the arrival of HMS Turbulent yesterday threatened to ignite yet another furore, even though the Spanish government had apparently been informed, through NATO, of the visit.

Spanish environmental group Ecologistas en Acción was swift to criticise the presence of yet another submarine in the bay just days after the row last week. Spokesman Antonio Muñoz told the Europa Press news agency that the Spanish government had again been ridiculed by the UK.

Yesterday evening, the Partido Popular echoed that sentiment. Its regional spokesman, Antonio Sanz, said in a statement that the continued presence of nuclear submarines in Gibraltar had turned the PSOE into “a laughing stock.”

The Junta de Andalucia added its voice to the chorus of opposition and renewed its call for an end to such visits.

And Jose Chamizo, Defensor del Pueblo Andaluz, told Europa Press that HMS Turbulent represented a “permanent defiance” by the UK. He also called for an end to such visits and warned that “society’s patience has a limit.”

Greenpeace, in a statement issued late yesterday evening, tried to broaden the debate and said that Madrid had adopted an “incoherent” position by criticising submarine visits in Gibraltar but allowing nuclear-powered vessels to call at Spanish ports. The global environmental organization called for a ‘definitive’ ban on nuclear-powered vessels.

For its part, the British Ministry of Defence insisted that there was nothing unusual in the latest call. A military spokeswoman in Gibraltar said the submarine was on a routine stop that had been planned for some time. She could not give an exact departure date but said the submarine would be in Gibraltar for “a matter of days.”

HMS Turbulent, like HMS Trenchant, belongs the Royal Navy’s fleet of Trafalgar class submarines, vessels capable of firing a range of missiles including Tomahawks.

Tireless repairs case goes to European Court of Justice

A legal complaint by the European Commission against Britain in relation to the nuclear repairs to HMS Tireless carried out in Gibraltar in 2000, will be heard in the EU Court of Justice on October 13th.

The case relates to the objections presented by Brussels to the manner in which Britain handled the repairs, especially for failure to inform the local population accordingly about the risks of a possible radiological emergency during the works to the defective nuclear vessel.

In February 2004 the European Commission had already sought that the court condemn Britain for “breach of its obligations under a 1989 EU directive,” and not informing the population about the health protection measures to adopt in case of a nuclear emergency in Gibraltar.

Related Article:

04 October 2005 - Gibraltar can handle nuclear submarine repairs

28 September 2005 - Spain declares war on nuclear vessels in Gibraltar - but not in Spain!

27 September 2005 - Nuclear powered submarine HMS Trenchant visits Gibraltar

27 September 2005 - Spanish ecologists protest against docking of British nuclear submarine

Ecologistas en Acción

View Images in our Gibraltar Pictures Gallery


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