UK government under the power of the dark side

The UK intends to offer up advanced radar facilities for US Star Wars project

Feature story - 16 January, 2003
As if bowing to the emperor's use of the force around their necks, the UK government has announced its intention to make British radar facilities available for the US National Missile Defence System or 'Son of Star Wars'.

Greenpeace action against the US Star Wars project.

Showing continued support for the Bush administration's war plan, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told Members of the British Parliament the government is minded to accede to a US request to use UK facilities, including Fylingdales radar station on the North Yorkshire Moors. Fylingdales has advanced radar, which could track missiles launched by rogue states or terrorists in, for example, the Middle East. They would then in theory be shot down as they neared the US coast.

The current US missile defense plan is for a multilayered set of land, sea, air and space based systems that has been estimated to cost anywhere between $60 and $200 billion.

The US government justifies the expense and risks of Star Wars as a defence from missile attack by so-called 'rogue states', usually interpreted to be Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

Any threat from these small nations is eclipsed by the dangers of a new arms race based on missile defense. China has already made indications that the Star Wars programme is of deep concern, and will only spur them to further arms development and research.

The US decision to abandon the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and not to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty are direct violations of US committments to nuclear disarmement under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Erosion of US committments to that treaty could lead to an erosion in committments from non-nuclear weapons states not to pursue nuclear weapons. The new Brazilian President Lula de Silva recently summed up the growing apprehension of non-nuclear states: 'If someone asks me to disarm and keep a slingshot and he comes at me with a cannon, what good does that do? All of us developing countries are left holding a slingshot while they have atomic bombs."

It's always been clear that the Blair government would succumb to the dark forces and let Bush do what he wants, but this is still a disgraceful decision

Even if it worked, Star Wars would only defend against one, pretty unlikely, form of attack. It would be of no use against a suitcase bomb, a test tube of toxins or a hijacked plane. And the cost of NMD, beyond the financial billions, is the undermining of the global arms control system and the danger of a new arms race.