Downer condemned for missile support
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's support for the Bush administration's controversial National Missile Defence (NMD) program, also known as "Star Wars II", has been strongly criticised by peace organisations and Friends of the Earth. The Senate has passed a resolution asking for a review of any arrangements for the Australia-US joint facilities that might be involved in missile defence. A letter initiated by Democrat Senator Vicki Bourne and signed by 32 parliamentarians, the ACTU and the Uniting Church asks that the joint facilities not to be involved in missile defence. When in Washington recently, Mr Downer claimed that the Missile Defence system would not damage Australia's relations with China and that the system was not aimed at China. He declared that "A missile defence system isn't going to kill anyone, missiles will". While the US's NMD might protect the US from missile attacks, it would not protect China from US missiles. The US spy base at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs is to play a key role in the US program, thus making Australia a prime target for a possible missile attack. A statement issued by Friends of the Earth, the Australian Peace Committee, Anti-bases, and PND WA and NSW says: "Warnings have been sounded about NMD from the beginning and it is astonishing that the [Australian] government sees fit to give its uncritical support to [the] scheme. Australia and Japan are literally the only countries that have expressed any support whatsoever for a scheme that the rest of the world has condemned. "Russia has already announced that it will no longer proceed with nuclear force reductions under START II and that it may withdraw from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It has been clear from the very beginning that the deployment of missile defence by the US could lead to the complete unravelling of current arms limitation treaties." "We call on the government to give the US the same message as the Senate did on March 1 — to say an emphatic `NO' to missile defence", concludes the statement by the peace organisations. Communist Party President and peace campaigner Dr Hannah Middleton told The Guardian that Australia should not be backing this misguided and dangerous scheme in any way. She said that the majority of the Australian people would very likely share this opinion when they understand how the NMD system undermines all plans for disarmament and could result in widespread destruction in Australia in the future.