The Guardian April 4, 2001


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.

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