The Guardian February 16, 2000


Keep space for peace

Star Wars, the weapons system developed nearly 20 years ago to with the 
aim of giving the US a nuclear first-strike capability, in particular 
against the Soviet Union, is still with us. Last week when the Clinton 
Administration announced its defence budget of A$457 billion, it included a 
A$600 million increase to Star Wars, now known as Ballistic Missile Defence 
(BMD).

By the end of 2005 funding to this project  a missile defence system 
shielding the US from attack  will increase by A$3 billion.

Estimates put the ultimate cost of the system at A$13-14 billion. Said US 
President Clinton, "We need a system to defend against new missile 
threats."

Tim Wheeler, of the People's Weekly World reported last month:

The failure of the Pentagon's latest test of an anti-ballistic missile 
(ABM) in the Pacific on January 18 touched off calls for termination of the 
Star Wars program that violates at least two treaties and has cost 
taxpayers US$120 billion.

President Clinton recently asked for another US$2.2 billion [prior to the 
budget] on top of the US$10 billion already approved for continued 
development of the so-called BMD.

It is deceptively packaged as a "scaled down" version of the crazed Star 
Wars weapons-in-space system conceived by Edward Teller, "father of the H-
bomb", and embraced by President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s.

The Pentagon was at a loss to explain why their missile, fired from the 
Marshall Islands, failed to strike a mock warhead launched 20 minutes 
earlier from California atop a Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile 
(ICBM).

The ABM was unable to strike the target even though the launch time and 
trajectory of the target were known, hardly simulating an actual war which 
would include decoys and other counter measures to fool an ABM.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear 
Power in Space, told the World, "This failure is no surprise. They 
are really rushing to get a firm decision."

He said that originally 13 tests were planned before President Clinton's 
scheduled decision by June on whether to deploy the BMD.

"Then they cut back to just three tests. They heard the opposition coming. 
They decided to move quickly before the opposition could build."

Gagnon said the military industrial complex presents the BMD as a "purely 
defensive" system aimed at protecting all 50 US states from ballistic 
missiles launched by North Korea, Iran, Iraq or some other "rogue nation".

In fact, Gagnon charged that "this is a foot-in-the-door, a Trojan Horse, 
the start of a new arms race in space".

He cited the US Space Command's publication, Vision for 2020, which 
openly argues that the US must deploy weapons, including nuclear weapons, 
in space to "control and dominate space and the Earth below".

This would cost hundreds of billions, or even trillions, of dollars and 
risks a thermonuclear war.

Clinton signed a law last year which required deployment of the BMD when it 
is proven "feasible".

The law was rammed through in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile 
Treaty which banned a continental anti-missile defence by either the US or 
the Soviet Union.

If the Pentagon forges ahead to "weaponise" outer space it would violate 
the United Nations 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Said Gagnon: "We maintain that 
this missile defence is a weapon of mass destruction and is, therefore, 
banned under the UN treaty."

Global Network is now organising a four-day protest in Washington, on April 
14-17 on the theme "Keep Space for Peace: No BMD, No Star Wars".

The broadly based protest, with many delegations coming from around the 
world, starts with a demonstration on Friday April 14 in front of the 
Treasury Department to protest against the "enormous waste of our tax 
dollars on Star Wars ..."

The demonstrators will then deliver a message to Clinton demanding that he 
halt the program.

On April 15 a day-long conference will be held at American University 
entitled "Star Wars Revisited: An International Conference on Preventing an 
Arms Race in Space".

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is among the 
sponsors.

"The failure of this test is just an example of why we have opposed Star 
Wars from the beginning", WILPF Executive Director Mary Day Kent said.

"The companies that make the missiles are making a great deal of money. 
Star Wars contributes to global destabilisation and jeopardises decades of 
efforts for arms control. It is stupidity to continue it."

Charles Ferguson, a spokesman for the Federation of American Scientists, 
said he believes the real target of the Star Wars system is China. All the 
US presidential candidates favour it. So does Democrat Al Gore.

George W Bush's national security advisor is former Reagan Star Wars 
advocate, Richard Perle, who claims the US-Soviet ABM Treaty is now void 
and the US is free to deploy an ABM system.

Ferguson added: "Will this derail the deep reductions in nuclear weapons 
promised under the START II Treaty? The Russian Duma will probably hold it 
up if the US does not abide by the the ABM Treaty.

"Then all bets would be off. We've built up a network of arms control 
agreements over the decades. If you pull on one strand too hard, the whole 
fabric could come unraveled."

Scott Lynch, a spokesman from Peace Action, another sponsor of Keep Space 
for Peace, said; "The defence corporations want this. They are very ready 
to spend our tax dollars on this while every human need is starved for 
funds."

For information on the "Keep Space for Peace" campaign  

http://www.globenet.freeonline.co.uk

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