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Alert ! Pacific target for US missiles again

30 June 2000

Kia ora,

the US government is about to conduct another test of its Ballistic Missile Defence system (BMD), aka National Missile Defence system (NMD), this will take place on 7 July. The test involves a target missile, carrying a warhead and a decoy, launched from Vandenberg AFB, California; and the launch of an interceptor missile carrying a model 'kill vehicle' from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean towards the target missile.

The people of the Marshall Islands have been forced to live with the consequences of US and British nuclear weapons tests on their islands since the 1940s; and more recently the people of Kwajalein have had US missiles raining down around them. It is time to put an end to what can only be described as arrogant colonialist abuse. For more information on the BMD and the Pacific, check out the background briefing paper 'Kwajalein Atoll and the new arms race' (Pacific Concerns Resource Centre)

We include below an alert from FoE (Sydney) which includes an A2000 media release; a sample letter and contact details (should you wish to write your own letter) for protesting to various US officials about this test, and the whole BMD programme; and an Australian Senate Motion on the BMD.

If you wish to convey your views about all this to the US diplomatic representative here, the contact details are: Ms Carol Mosley-Braun, US Ambassador, US Embassy, PO Box 1190, Wellington; tel (04) 472 2068; fax (04) 471 2380 or 472 9804.

If you wish to urge the government to convey their opposition to the test to the US ambassador, you could contact: Helen Clark, Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9998, fax 473 3579; Jim Anderton, Deputy Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9011, fax 495 8441; Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, office - tel 471 9370, fax 495 8444; The Cabinet (collectively), office - tel 471 9743, fax 472 6332. All of the above numbers should be prefixed by 04 for those of you outside Wellington.

Ideally you should send a copy of your correspondence to Matt Robson, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, tel (04) 470 6561, fax (04) 495 8462; Keith Locke, Green Party Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, tel 470 6709, fax 472 6003; and a copy of your correspondence and of any replies to PMA for our files.

You could also ask the government to make a statement similar to (although more strongly worded would be good) the Australian Senate Motion included below.

All telephone codes below have been amended so they work from here.

Edited Alert from Friends of the Earth, Sydney.

30 June 2000.

  • 1) Abolition 2000 Press release

For immediate release

Contact: Carah Ong, Coordinator, Abolition 2000 Global Network,

Controversy and Protest Surround Missile Test

The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) announced on 20 June 2000 that it has scheduled the third national missile defense (NMD) intercept flight test for 7 July 2000. This will be the first full system test of the NMD system.

After several test date delays, program officials stated that the 7 July flight test date depends on the readiness of all test elements to meet specific requirements for performance, safety and system integration. The test will include a target missile, carrying a warhead and a decoy, and will be launched from Vandenberg AFB, California. After the target missile lifts off, an interceptor missile carrying a model 'kill vehicle' will launch from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and be directed toward the target, using data collected from the system's radars.

The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) claims that the NMD system is needed to protect the US from incoming Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles that would be launched by 'states of concern' such as North Korea. President Clinton is scheduled to make a decision on deployment later this year. The estimated cost to deploy the system by the year 2005 is $5.6 billion. However, a report released this week by the Welch Panel, an independent team of scientists, outlines the probability of the systems failure.

The deployment of a national missile defense system would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty between Russia and the US. The treaty is viewed as the cornerstone of arms control efforts and amendment or abrogation of the treaty will pose serious threats to international relations. On 22 June 2000, China attacked the proposed US national missile defense (NMD) saying it would turn outer space into a 'battlefield'' and jeopardize global stability. China has also voiced opposition to amending the ABM Treaty. Both Russia and China have called for negotiations to ban the weaponization of outer space, but the US has refused to engage in any such discussions.

Carah Ong, Coordinator of Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons stated, "The relentless pursuit by the US to deploy a national missile defense system that threatens to initiate a new nuclear arms race must be stopped. Rather than developing new technology that undermines international and national security, the US should uphold the commitments it has made in international law to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. As long as the BMDO continues to test this system, we will continue to protest at the front gate of Vandenberg until our voice is heard ... "No new Star wars ! No new arms race ! Keep space for peace !"

  • 2) Sample letter to US government officials.

You can fax Bill Clinton (President) on 00-1-202-456-2461, Madeline Albright (Secretary of State) on 00-1-202-647-6047, and William Cohen (Defence Secretary) on 00-1-703-695-1149.

Dear whoever,

I am writing to urge you not to proceed with proposals for a national ballistic missile defence system. Missile defence schemes respond to a nonexistent or exaggerated threat, are not the solution to real threats, make the rest of the US's security environment less safe, sabotage nuclear disarmament efforts to which the US is legally committed along with the rest of the world, and show contempt for the opinions of US allies and the rest of the world.

At the recent NPT Review Conference, the US together with 187 other countries, signed a final declaration that commits it to an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of its nuclear arsenal. Plans to deploy a missile defence system threaten that vital goal, to which the US is legally committed.

At the very same conference, the UN Secretary General, and representatives of Russia, China, the UK, France, Sweden, the European community, the New Agenda Coalition and the Non- aligned movement have all expressed strongly that they believe the ABM treaty is the cornerstone of global strategic stability. They do not think it should be modified to allow a missile defence system, still less abrogated unilaterally. On your recent European trip, leaders of Europe and Russia have made the same point. America simply cannot ignore the strongly repeated opinion of the whole world, that the ABM treaty should not be modified to permit BMD.


  1. The threat that the national missile defence system is supposed to address, namely that of missile - equipped so- called 'rogue states' is in all likelihood, nonexistent.

  2. A state that really wished to inflict serious damage on the US would probably rather smuggle a nuclear explosive device into a US city by means that are more reliable and more difficult to trace than missiles.

  3. There are serious doubts as to whether this system can work at all, or as to whether any missile defence system can ever work. The problems posed even by relatively simple decoys are probably technically insoluble.

  4. National (and theatre) missile defence schemes are unsustainably costly, and cost estimates are likely to rise without limit.

Instead of pursuing missile defence, it is vital that the US focus on real solutions to global strategic security. The highest priorities have to be the elimination of as many warheads as possible under any START-III agreement with Russia, and the removal of strategic missile forces from high alert status as advocated by the Canberra Commission, subsequent UN resolutions and the final NPT declaration.

In this respect, the commitment of Candidate Bush to deep cuts in warhead numbers and to reductions in alert status are worthy of support. Commitments to costly and dangerous missile defence schemes are worthy only of opposition.

Yours Sincerely,

Signed _____

  • 3) Australian Senate Motion on BMD

Notice of Motion

June 28th 2000

I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:

(1) That the Senate notes:

a) the final declaration of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York, 24 April -19 May 2000, commits the nuclear weapon states to 'the early implementation and entry into force of START-II and conclusion of START-III as soon as possible while preserving and strengthening the Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability and as a basis for further reductions of strategic offensive weapons in accordance with its provisions;

b) that at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, the United Nations Secretary General, the EU, Sweden, Portugal, the UK, and France have all expressed concern at the prospect of the deployment by the US of a National Missile Defence System (NMD), which would require the alteration or abrogation of the ABM treaty, and have stated that the ABM treaty is the cornerstone of strategic stability;

c) the statements made by the heads of Government of France and Germany with respect to the inadvisability of deployment of a National Missile defence system by the United States;

d) the strong statements by the governments of Russia and China, that deployment of a National Missile Defence system as currently proposed would have serious consequences for arms control and arms reduction talks, and could result in the abandonment of START commitments by Russia, with the alarming possibility of a new arms race;

e) increasing doubts about the technical viability of any system of ballistic missile defence, and especially the current NMD proposal surfacing in the United States;

f) the recent declaration, released by the Washington National Cathedral, by a large number of retired senior military personnel and religious leaders, asking that nuclear weapons be eliminated and expressing opposition to NMD.

(2) That the Senate asks the Australian Government:

  1. to make known its position in relation to the United States' proposal to deploy a National Missile Defence System;

  2. to call on the United States not to deploy an NMD system;

  3. to urge the United States and Russia to proceed with the early implementation and entry into force of START-II and conclusion of START III as soon as possible;

  4. to call on the Nuclear Weapons States to outline how they will implement the NPT Final Document requirement that nuclear weapons play a diminishing role in security policies;

  5. to urge the United States and Russia to maintain the integrity of the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Senator Lyn Allison

Kwajalein missile test fails again, PCRC, 10 July 2000

Further alerts on the Marshall Islands

Index page on Star Wars and Weapons in Space


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