For immedeiate release: 6 February 2003

CND today slammed Geoff Hoon’s long expected decision to give the go-ahead to the use of the Fylingdales base in Yorkshire for missile defence, calling it “yet another sell-out to US demands, against the wishes of the people of the UK. The decision,” they continued, “leads the UK, the US and the World down a very dangerous path, with potentially seriously destabilising consequences.”

Geoff Hoon made the announcement just days after the Parliamentary Defence Committee released a report heavily critical of Hoon’s handling of the affair. In the report, which mentions Yorkshire CND’s submission to the committee several times, they said “we deplore the manner in which the public debate on the issue of the upgrade has been handled…” Neither Tony Blair nor Geoff Hoon has given an adequate explanation as to why there is such a rush to answer the US now, rather than allow the public consultation period to take place with sufficient time. CND, like most campaign groups and the defence select committee, felt rushed to create detailed submissions and reports to meet MOD deadlines. This has essentially stifled debate.

Last Friday said that he was “satisfied that we have been able to take fully into account the views of all interested parties in coming to a decision.” He has not taken the views fully in to account, he has interfered with debate and he has made a mockery of democracy.

Whilst Hoon argues that missile system could represent “an invaluable extra insurance against the development of a still uncertain but potentially catastrophic threat to the citizens of this country” he fails to mention that the current plans will do nothing to protect the UK – they are designed only to protect the USA.

CND Chair Carol Naughton said,

“The facts are very different to the dreamy world of Hoon’s position. Missile Defence will make the UK a target. In much the same way that the UK and US will knock out Iraq’s defences with air strikes at the start of an attack on Iraq, so if anyone wants to attack the US they will knock out their defences – Fylingdales and Menwith Hill, integral to missile defence, are two such targets. Such an attack on the UK would increase the chances of a successful attack on the US. Hoon is trying to stay friends with a bully and is risking the UK as a result.”
She continued,

The system will also allow increased aggressive foreign policy from the US, as it feels shielded from the consequences of that aggression, a potential arms race as states try to redress the military imbalance of such aggression, and later, the development of space as a war-fighting medium. For Hoon to look at this whole affair as a simple software upgrade at Fylingdales is at best short-sighted and at worst deceptive. We have taken a dangerous path and it’s up to everyone to stand up and oppose this decision as well as to write to the MOD NOW to oppose any further involvement.”

CND press contacts: Neil Kingsnorth (Yorkshire CND) 01274 730795 or 07818 411823 Carol Naughton 07736 698702