The Guardian July 12, 2000


No to star wars!

Governments, political parties, peace and other organisations, and many 
individuals have voiced their protests against the Pentagon and the US 
military-industrial complex as an interceptor missile was test fired last 
week. It was part of the US preparations for an updated Star Wars missile 
program, its national missile defence (NMD) system or missile shield.

The firing was the second failure out of three test firings so far, and 
even the one success has been charged with fraud by some of the 
participating scientists.

However, these failures are not likely to deter the war-hawks in the 
Pentagon and the arms manufacturers who anticipate making trillions of 
dollars profit from the hugely expensive technology involved in the Star 
Wars project.

Should the program be given the go-ahead by President Clinton or his 
successor, it will spark a new international arms race and far from making 
the world a safe place, it will revive an acute danger of a big war fought 
with the most destructive weapons ever devised, inevitably leading to the 
massive destruction of all nations.

The governments of Russia and China have strongly denounced the test 
firings by the US authorities and have warned of the consequences. (See 
Star Wars story page 7)

In a statement to The Guardian, CPA President, Dr Hannah Middleton 
said: "We condemn the efforts by the US military-industrial complex to 
introduce another version of Star Wars. It is an offensive, not a defensive 
system because it is intended to allow the US to attack other countries 
with impunity.

"The people of the USA will pay the $60 billion price tag for NMD in less 
services, less jobs, less rights. The people of the world will pay the 
price in billions spent on a new nuclear arms race, in the destruction of 
the international arms control regime, and in a wave of global insecurity 
and instability", Dr Middleton said.

"Australia is complicit in this threat to the future of our planet and its 
peoples because the Howard Government is allowing the US intelligence 
facility at Pine Gap to support the NMD.

"This new version of Star Wars is a weapon of Washington's new world 
order", Dr Middleton said. "It threatens every country that does not 
capitulate to the USA and it will undermine global and regional peace, 
security and stability.

"Like so many others around the world, we believe it must be stopped. Our 
members must and will play their part in the international campaign which 
demands: `No new Stars Wars'", Dr Middleton said.

Brereton statement

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurie Brereton, has called on the 
Howard Government to use next weekend's talks with US Defence Secretary 
William Cohen to urge a suspension of moves toward the deployment of its 
proposed national missile defence system.

"While the failure of the latest $US100 million ballistic missile intercept 
test underlines the widespread doubts about the technical viability of NMD, 
it would be quite mistaken to think this is the end of the issue", Mr 
Brereton said.

"On the contrary, the $US60 billion NMD program is likely to be a key 
strategic policy issue in the US Presidential election campaign and the 
proposed deployment will be the subject of continuing international 
controversy. A decision to push ahead with NMD clearly has the potential to 
derail progress towards disarmament and risks fuelling nuclear 
proliferation.

"Such a deployment is prohibited by the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty 
which has long served as a keystone of nuclear arms control. Russia has 
repeatedly said that it opposes amending the ABM Treaty to allow NMD and 
that it will walk away from key arms control agreements if deployment 
proceeds in violation of the Treaty. China has indicated it will respond to 
NMD deployment by increasing its strategic nuclear missile force.

"The Howard Government has conspicuously declined to make any substantive 
criticism of NMD. Last year's AUSMIN Joint Communique records `Australia 
expressed its understanding of US plans to decide on deployment of a 
limited National Missile Defence to defend against potential threats from 
rogue states'."

The Australian Senate has adopted a resolution urging the US Government not 
to proceed with a national missile defence system.

A wide collective of peace, political and environmental organisations have 
conveyed their opposition.

Representatives of the Greens, Democrats, Carmen Lawrence (ALP), People for 
Nuclear Disarmament, Anti-Bases Coalition, Australian Peace Committee 
(APC), Pax Christi, Friends of the Earth and the Environment Centre of WA 
and the Northern Territory signed a protest.

Their message says that "The current National Missile Defence proposal and 
indeed, any proposal for ballistic missile defence, would be strategically 
destabilising, costly, and would fail to deliver the security it promises 
to the American people, while putting the rest of the world, as well as the 
US, at an increased risk of nuclear exchange."

Listing other protests, a statement by the Australian Peace Committee (SA 
Branch) says that 50 US Nobel prizewinners have written to President 
Clinton asking him not to proceed with the NMD scheme. The United Nations 
Secretary-General, the European Union and the governments of Germany, 
France and Sweden have all spoken out strongly against the proposal.

Irresponsibility

The APC said in a statement: "The US test has been a gargantuan act of 
irresponsibility. It is demonstrating that [the US] will not be deterred by 
the persistent warnings made by almost every nation on earth, including 
some of its own closest allies, that this system is not only a violation of 
the [1972] ABM treaty but that it will set back nuclear arms control gains 
by decades and lead to an increased risk of nuclear war. Moves like this 
potentially endanger the whole planet."

"The Australian Government must express its concern in the very strongest 
terms to US Defence Secretary, William Cohen, when he arrives shortly for 
talks in Sydney."

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