Hazardous cargo flights 'diverted to Mildenhall'

Hazardous material bound for Israel is believed to have been landed at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, after flights were diverted from Prestwick airport in Scotland in the wake of planned protests.

Hazardous material bound for Israel is believed to have been landed at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, after flights were diverted from Prestwick airport in Scotland in the wake of planned protests.

A member of staff at RAF Mildenhall told the Press Association that one plane operated by US cargo firm Atlas Air was on the runway - but they could not say what was inside it.

Atlas Air is being used for two hazardous material flights from Texas to Tel Aviv, and planes were due to fly into Prestwick over the weekend - but they were diverted to a military base elsewhere in the UK, according to a source at Preswtick.

An official operations spokesman at RAF Mildenhall, which has one of the biggest runways in Europe, later refused to confirm or deny the hazardous material flights had been diverted from Prestwick to Mildenhall.

It is not sure exactly what is on board the planes, but their dangerous contents needed a special exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority, which was approved.

Two chartered A310 Airbuses carrying bunker-busting bombs for Israel previously stopped over for refuelling at Preswtick, apparently without following proper procedure.

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It led to calls for US planes to be banned from using the UK as a staging post for arms transport during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon - although the government has made clear it was the breach in protocol rather than the fact of the flights that was at issue.

US president George Bush apologised to Tony Blair over the previous use of Prestwick to refuel planes carrying bombs to Israel.

Tony Blair defended allowing the use of Prestwick for US aircraft ferrying bombs to Israel.

Speaking on an official visit to San Francisco he told Sky News last night: "What happens at Prestwick airport is not going to determine whether we get a ceasefire in the Lebanon."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said the flights this weekend were "adding insult to injury".

"What price the president's apology now? Who can tell if some of this equipment may be used to continue Israel's disproportionate attacks on Lebanon?

Glasgow Stop the War Coalition were due to protest at Prestwick today.

Scottish Parliament member John Scott told BBC Radio Scotland he was worried that Prestwick, a civilian airport, could become a terrorist target as a result of it allowing dangerous materials to pass through to Israel.