Introduction to Briefing Paper
- The US National Missile Defence (NMD) program involves developing a system to intercept in flight a limited number of intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) armed with nuclear, biological, or chemical warheads.
- NMD is not a benign, defensive nuclear umbrella. It is a controversial space battle system which aims to allow the US to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. NMD is concerned mainly with offense -- with using space to establish domination over the world below. NMD is about trying to be invulnerable.
- NMD goes way beyond missile defense. The U.S. military explicitly says it wants to "control" space to protect its economic interests and establish superiority over the world. Vision for 2020, a 1996 report of the U.S. Space Command, opens with: U.S. Space Command -- dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment.... [A century ago] Nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests" by ruling the seas, the report notes. Now it is time to rule space.
- The US claims that NMD is intended to counter threats from "states of concern" (formerly rogue states: North Korea, Iran and Iraq). However, their nuclear arsenals range from minimal to nonexistent. None of them has the rocketry to deliver warheads anywhere remotely close to continental USA. In addition, NMD will be useless against the most likely threat to the USA - a truck, boat or suitcase carrying a nuclear or biological device."
- NMD probably cannot be made to work. Since research began in 1976, attempts to destroy mock warheads have failed more than 70 per cent of the time. During the Gulf War, not one Patriot anti-ballistic missile managed to hit a Scud.
- According to US Defense Secretary, NMD does not have to work. "A system of defence need not be perfect, but the American people must not be left completely defenceless," he said. Allowing for any margin of error in the functioning of a multi-billion dollar system designed to stop a small number of missiles fired by a rogue state renders it pointless. Its rather like applying the "need not be perfect" standard to a condom.
- NMD will destroy the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. The consequence of this will be the collapse of existing arms control and nuclear disarmament treaties. The fragile foundation for progress in nuclear disarmament will come crashing down. We are on the brink of a new, more dangerous nuclear arms race.
- Both Russia and China have repeatedly warned that US plans for National Missile Defense will lead the world into a new nuclear arms race. Both countries have pledged to meet any US Star Wars scheme by building up their nuclear forces. Mr. Sha Zukang, Director-General of arms control in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has said the US missile shield poses an unacceptable threat to China's security. If China builds up its nuclear forces to counter NMD, India and Pakistan are likely to follow suit.
- Pine Gap has been used to collect data on ballistic missile launches for over 30 years. The satellites it controls monitor missile telemetry and the exhaust plumes of missiles. These two pieces of information reveal the type of missile, its range, speed, trajectory and number of warheads - all of which is crucial information if missiles are to be shot down with a NMD system. In May 1992, the then US Defence Secretary Dick Cheney confirmed that the US bases in Australia had a role in the Strategic Defence Initiative ("Star Wars").
- On 16 July last year, the then US Defence Secretary William Cohen said in Australia that Pine Gap had been "very much" involved in NMD since October 1999
- NMD has the potential to trigger a new nuclear arms race in the Asia-Pacific region and seriously undermine global disarmament and non-proliferation agreements. Australia's security will not be advanced by such developments.
- A February 16 Russian Foreign Ministry statement said that even the geographical remoteness of Australia will not save it from the adverse consequences of the undermining of strategic stability and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
- Australia and Japan are the only countries in the world offering the US public support for NMD.
The reality is that greater efforts for nuclear abolition and arms control are the only protection against nuclear holocaust.
The only answer to the nuclear threat is to abolish nuclear weapons.