Trident on Trial



“This is the story of global
citizenship in action,a story
of people’s power and the
right of individuals to
prevent their state from
committing very great wrongs.
This book is about the women
and men who are taking
responsibility to prevent
mass murder. It is about
people’s disarmament. I hope
it will inspire youto join us.”



“This fine book should be read by everyone, especially those who have the slightest doubt that the world will one day be rid of nuclear weapons. From Mothers Against The Bomb (USA 1950s), to the Greenham Women, to the World Court Project and now the brilliant Ploughshares movement, those who have campaigned literally to save our lives are the true heroes of my lifetime. Angie Zelter’s informative and powerful book is a manual and inspiration for the most important of all human struggles.”JOHN PILGER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR

“Reading this book will help you play your part in keeping human life human.”THE VERY REV DR ANDREW MacLELLAN, MODERATOR OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND 2000/2001

“I’m now totally convinced that Trident is theologically and morally indefensible” REV NORMAN SHANKS, LEADER, IONA COMMUNITY

“the reader is forced to think about the survival of the planet, the legality of weapons of mass destruction – I suspect that 100 years from now, the themes raised in this book will continue to provide sustenance for the legal imagination” PROFESSOR ROGER S CLARK, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, NJ



On a beautiful summer’s evening in 1999, three women – Ellen Moxley, Ulla Roder, and Angie Zelter – boarded a barge moored on a Scottish loch and threw some computer equipment overboard. Sheriff Margaret Gimblett acquitted ’The Trident Three’ on the basis that they were acting as global citizens preventing nuclear crime.

This led to what is thought to be the world’s first High Court examination of the legality of an individual state’s deployment of nuclear weapons’

– Is Trident inherently unlawful and immoral? – When can a state use or threaten to use nuclear weapons? – Should international law take precedence over a sovereign government’s? – Can a government be held accountable for ownership of weapons of mass destruction? – When is a citizen justified in acting against what she reasonably believes to be Government crime? – In whose name does the UK government deploy 144 nuclear warheads, each around 10 times the power of that dropped on Hiroshima killing some 150,000 people?

The High Court failed to answer any of these questions.

Trident Ploughshares continues to challenge the legitimacy of UK Nuclear Forces. In 1996 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons. The ICJ is also known as the World Court and is the judicial arm of the United Nations used for adjudicating disputes between nations. The Advisory Opinion stated that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of International law applicable in armed conflict. This ruling was to affect Angie Zelter’s life profoundly.

It was the beginning of Trident Ploughshares, the civil-resistance campaign of People’s Disarmament. This is Angie’s personal account of the campaign. It also includes profiles of and contributions by some of the people and groups who have pledged to prevent nuclear crime in peaceful and practical ways. Without such public pressure governments will not abide by the Advisory Opinion nor implement their international agreements to abolish nuclear weapons.


“…the shock troops of the sane in the war against insanity.” KURT VONNEGUT

“the true heroes of my lifetime.” JOHN PILGER

“Homo Sapiens appeared on earth in the last flick of an evolutionary eye, and in the very recent past has modified the world in ways that may give the species a prize for rapid extinction. It is, surely, within our power to demonstrate that the particular forms that higher intelligence took will not prove to be a lethal mutation.

Elimination of nuclear weapons from the earth is a fundamental step in this direction. The nonviolent activists who are dedicating themselves to realizing this goal by the end of this terrible century deserve our sincerest thanks and strongest support.” NOAM CHOMSKY, MESSAGE OF SUPPORT FOR TRIDENT PLOUGHSHARES

“Trident Ploughshares carries such deep authority. It presents a naked moral challenge.” ALASTAIR McINTOSH, AUTHOR OF Healing Nationhood

“Angie Zelter’s campaigning courage and commitment to justice reflect a spirit of defiance that has echoed in Britain through countless generations.” CONOR GEARTY, PROFESSOR OF HUMAN RIGHTS LAW, KINGS COLLEGE, LONDON

Extended Quotes…

“Protest has always been central to the Scots constitution. In the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, the community told the king that sovereign power comes from bottom-up and they’d depose him if he forgot it. Today the Scottish people roundly reject defence by threatened genocide. Trident is held not in our names. Given Britain’s supposedly spiritual constitution and given international law Trident is the treason. That is why Trident Ploughshares carries such deep authority. It presents a naked moral challenge. It names, unmasks and engages the Powers. It calls the nation from fear and hate to learn to love.”ALASTAIR McINTOSH, AUTHOR OF Healing Nationhood

“crimes against International Law are committed by men, not by abstract entities.” THE NUREMBERG TRIBUNAL

“murder does not cease to be murder merely because the victims are multiplied ten millionfold.” SIR HARTLEY SHAWCROSS, UK PROSECUTOR, NUREMBERG

“nuclear weapons are the enemy of humanity, biological time bombs whose effects transcend time and space, poisoning the earth and its inhabitants for generations to come.” GENERAL LEE BUTLER, COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE UNITED STATES STRATEGIC COMMAND

“if humanity and the dictates of the public conscience demand the prohibition of such weapons for some states, it must demand the same prohibition for all states.” GARETH EVANS QC, AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

“It’s not as simple as good and bad, right and wrong, moral and immoral. It’s how to recognise the humanity in all of us, our hope in the future, our desire for a better world.” JANE TALLENTS, LOCAL HEROES AFFINITY GROUP


To order Trident on Trial: ISBN 1 84282 004 4

Send a cheque for £12.00 (£8.99 plus postage) to:


Jean Oliver
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