Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Feachtas um Dí-armáil Eithneach P.O. Box 6327, Dublin 6, Ireland e-mail: Telephone: 087-236 4312

30th July 2001.

The Editor,
The Irish Times.

Sir, - Your series of articles on National Missile Defence included one from the American Deputy Secretary of Defence, Paul Wolfowitz, but none from opponents, so we hope you will allow us to express some arguments here.

The question is really whether this scheme will genuinely increase the security either of the United States or of the whole world. The actions taken by the American government are not taken in isolation, because there are many countries with the potential to build missiles, and even with the potential to build nuclear weapons. Do the actions of the American government make it more likely, or less likely, that their bad example will be copied by others?

The American project is one which will fill the coffers of a lot of American companies without any guarantee that the system will work at the end of it. It was misleading for Jonathan Eyal in his contribution to write of the “successful” test carried out recently: it was successful only on the basis that the incoming missile had an electronic beacon to alert the destroying missile to its presence.

Mr Eyal presents the argument that, even if all incoming missiles would not be destroyed by the American system, some would be. It is difficult to understand this: if one of these alleged “rogue states” chooses to launch three missiles and only one gets through, the destruction caused will certainly be horrendous. The United States is clearly seeking a security that is not achievable. If a “rogue state” really wanted to attack the United States, a “suitcase bomb” is far easier and cheaper than a missile, and will not be stopped by anti-missile defences.

If the United States really wishes to produce a more peaceful world, the money which will be spent on this system could transform economic and social conditions in the developing countries and help to remove tensions.

When Mr Wolfowitz complains about the threats which the United States faces on all sides, for a moment one would imagine that the United States is the most oppressed country in the world rather than the most powerful. As the most powerful country it has particular responsibilities towards the security climate in which tension has been eased by a number of international treaties. When the United States denounces the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 signed by President Nixon, this will clearly produce a more lawless and more dangerous world, since it will endanger other treaties by which the threat of nuclear war has been reduced. If the United States will not take a lead in adhering to treaties which have helped to keep the peace for many years, why should it expect any other country to do so?

None of the contributors referred to the most proximate reason for Irish concern on this issue: the proposed use of the American bases in England at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales. This creates a danger that they could become nuclear targets. - Yours etc.,
John Goodwillie
Vice-chairperson, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

(tel. 01-454 0194)


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