For immediate use: 16 December 2002

CND urges government to refuse use of British military base

The Government will announce tomorrow (Tuesday 17 December) that the US administration has requested use of RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire for their controversial ‘Son of Star Wars’ missile defence system. The request has been expected by defence officials and campaigners for over a year and follows the visit to the base this month by General Kadish – head of the US Missile Defence Agency. It comes almost a year to the day after George W. Bush announced his intention to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty (a treaty which forbade the development of missile defence systems on the scale that the US wants).

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has made repeated statements in support of missile defence over the past month and the recent MOD publication “Missile Defence – a public discussion paper”, released this week, is again supportive of the principle. The discussion paper was apparently released to fuel the public and parliamentary debate that Geoff Hoon called for only a month ago. However, CND has been informed by the Ministry of Defence that there is no deadline for the public to send in their views and opinions.

CND today called on the government to ensure that they do not make any decision on the base’s use until they have left considerable time for that public debate to take place and, given that the House of Commons closes for the Christmas break tomorrow, not before parliament has a chance to discuss the matter in a full parliamentary debate.

Carol Naughton, the Chair of CND, said:

“We’ve been expecting this news for some time. What a coincidence that it comes when parliament is in recess and everyone is away for Christmas. This whole process has been undemocratic and unaccountable so far and it looks like the US want to keep it that way. Geoff Hoon has called for a full public and parliamentary debate on these issues and we demand that he allows time for that before giving in once again to the USA’s wishes. ”