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UK Parliament Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence (2003) [Abbreviated version - Oui]

BASIC welcomes the Committee's further inquiry into missile defence, its call for written submissions and its restatement of the desirability for an informed public and parliamentary debate on this issue. Missile defences became a prominent area of research for BASIC about three years ago, and since then we have been regularly disseminating materials on US developments on the issue to European government officials, the media, and the general public.

BASIC also notes that the Ministry of Defence initiated this latest debate with its publication "Missile Defence: a public discussion paper" on 9 December 2002. The MoD has asked that views and opinions in response to this document be forwarded to the Policy Director.

Recent Developments in Missile Defence

Since the US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, dropped the reference to "national" in what the Clinton administration termed National Missile Defence, the possibility of expanding the missile defense system to protect "friends and allies" has been repeatedly mooted. The use of European radar bases at Thule in Greenland and Fylingdales in Yorkshire has long been a high priority for US missile defence planners. However, with the Bush administration promising to have a system in place by 2004, and the hawks firmly in control of policy formulation, the United States is contemplating a greater level of allied involvement. The path was further smoothed by US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty (in December 2001) and considerable increases in spending on US missile defence research and development in 2002.

Among the range of options being considered is the stationing of interceptors in one or more central European countries, an idea first put forward by House Republican and missile defence advocate Curt Weldon, R--Penn., in February 2001. The Pentagon is also interested in using European ship borne radar technology, particularly that deployed on Britain's upcoming Type-45 Frigates, to detect missile launches. In order to garner allied support for its plans, Washington is also promising greater involvement for European defence contractors in the development of the required technologies.

The issue of missile defence was reintroduced into the public arena on 14 October 2002 with the announcement from the US Missile Defense Agency of a successfully completed flight test of the ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) programme. The press release stated that the Department of Defense "will continue to pursue this testing regime to achieve a layered approach to missile defence."[61] At the same time the US Congress appropriated $7.4 billion for work during fiscal year 2003 on missile defence programmes.

During the summer 2002, representatives of the Bush Administration visited European capitals to promote the concept of missile defence and encourage active support and participation in the project. During the summer 2002, representatives of the Bush Administration visited European capitals to promote the concept of missile defence and encourage active support and participation in the project. John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security put the case bluntly to a Royal United Services Institute conference on 18 November: "It is no longer a question of whether missile defence will be implemented and time is running out for allies to climb on board".

A NATO communique« was released during the Prague Summit on 22 November 2002, which indicated that Member States had agreed to initiate a new NATO Missile Defence feasibility study and conduct further research into the desirability of pursuing missile defence research and development. Collaborative work was already underway as detailed in a July press release from European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) following the signing of a research and co-operative agreement with Boeing [a major missile defence contractor in the US]: "The transatlantic team effort will focus on creating end-to-end products for global ballistic defence.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Aug 19th, 2022 at 09:13:16 AM EST

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