US Missile Defence Test A Mistake Say Peace Groups

December 1, 2001

US Missile Defence Test A Mistake Say Peace Groups
Friends Of The Earth
Australian Peace Committee
Australian Anti-Bases Campaign
Trade Union Green Caucus
Campaign For International Cooperation And Disarmament (Cicd)
People For Nuclear Disarmament (Pnd) W.A.

Peace and environment groups in Australia are saying that in the light of the September 11 attacks, the missile defence test scheduled by the US for late Saturday US time, is a big mistake. Missile Defence and nuclear weapons would have made no difference whatsoever to the attacks of September 11th, which were achieved by people armed with stanley knives and the willingness to die.

US investment in costly and exotic missile defence technologies does not address the major world problem that the US and Russia have stocks of nuclear weapons sufficiently large to end civilization. The elimination of nuclear weapons by the US and Russia remains a top priority, and Saturdays missile defence test will not help progress in that direction at all.

According to the groups:

"All the missile defence systems in the world and all the nuclear weapons in the world would not have protected the US against the attacks on the WTC. And all the Missile Defence systems in the world will not protect the US against the possibility of suitcase mini-nuclear weapons smuggled into the US by terrorists."

"The upcoming US missile defence test shows that the US is still attached to a costly, destabilizing, and unreliable system that will do nothing to make the world any safer and that will set back the cause of arms control and the elimination of nuclear weapons."

"One would have thought that Sept. 11 would act as a wake - up call to focus the US on what is really needed to make the world a safer place. Missile Defence will have the opposite effect. The best defence for the US is to redirect the money and resources wasted on NMD to real social needs both in the US and the world, thereby eliminating the breeding ground for terrorism. The US should abandon its missile defence scheme and focus on ways to negotiate with Russia to achieve the total and unequivocal elimination of nuclear arsenals."

For more information contact:

John Hallam
Ph: (02) 9567 7533

Jacob Grech
Mob: 0402-246-491

Jo Vallentine
Ph: (08) 9272 4252

Update: Saturday December 1

Pentagon Postpones Missile Test
By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - High winds and low clouds delayed Saturday for at least 24 hours a planned test of a prototype missile shield strongly opposed by Russia, China and many other countries, the Pentagon said.

Poor weather at Vandenberg Air Force Base, site of the planned launch of the target missile, forced the postponement until between 9 p.m. EST Sunday and 1 a.m. on Monday, '"contingent upon improvement of weather conditions,'" a statement said.

The launch of a dummy warhead on a prototype Minuteman 2 booster rocket had been scheduled to take place between 9 p.m. EST on Saturday and 1 a.m. on Sunday.

"The test was postponed because of high winds and low cloud cover" at
Vandenberg, on the central California coast, said Air Force Lt. Col. Rick
Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization.

Going into the test, the U.S. military had succeeded twice and failed twice
in attempts to shoot down a dummy warhead fired from Vandenberg with an interceptor launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The Bush administration's goal is to build a multi-layered shield to protect against feared ballistic missiles from nations such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.

Even though the dummy warhead carries sophisticated instruments to signal its location, safety dictates that no launch may take place without clear skies for visual tracking of booster rockets, Lehner said.

About 20 minutes after the target was to be launched from Vandenberg, an
interceptor carrying a so-called "kill vehicle" would be fired from the
Marshalls, about 4,800 miles (7,700 km) away.

If everything went according to plan, the kill vehicle would destroy the
target by slamming into it 144 miles above the Pacific after they close on
each other at a combined speed of about 15,000 miles per hour.

The anti-missile program put Washington at odds with Russia and China, which said it would lead to a new arms race.

ABM Treaty

The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between the United States and the old Soviet Union barred both countries from building a national missile defense to curb their efforts to overwhelm any such shield.

While the test postponed on Saturday night would not violate the ABM treaty, the White House has vowed to move beyond that pact if Moscow and Washington cannot reach agreement on updating it.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Ballistic Missile
Defense Organization, told reporters on Friday that he was "pretty
confident we fixed everything" in the two failed intercept tries.

"But this is rocket science, so there is some chance that we missed
something. That's why we're testing," Kadish said.

Despite agreeing to new and deep cuts in offensive nuclear missiles by both countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush failed to agree on the anti-missile program at a summit meeting in Texas earlier this month.

But they said discussions would continue on missile defense and the ABM
pact.