8 March 2007: for immediate release

Geoff Hoon yesterday invited Czech deputy PM for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra to visit the US radar station at Fylingdales in north Yorkshire. The US has proposed that a radar station similar to Fylingdales be built in the Czech Republic as part of the US missile defence system.

The US describes the system as defensive because it has the capacity to shoot down incoming missiles. In reality it would enable the US to attack other countries without fear of retaliation, thus sparking major international concern and provoking a new arms race. Mr Hoon’s invitation to Mr Vondra further clarifies the British government’s implicit support for this offensive military system.

CND believe that the Missile Defence programme will create a new global arms race through US military dominance of space, a view reflected by the majority of British public opinion. A recent poll showed 67% of the British public oppose any involvement in the missile defence programme (note 1). A majority of Czechs oppose hosting the radar site in their country, believing that it will make them a target in any future attacks.

Britain’s complicity in starting a new arms race does not stop with its cooperation with the US missile defence plans. Parliament will vote next week on the government’s plan to replace Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system. If the government’s plans for new nuclear weapons go ahead, IAEA Chief Mohammed El Baradei says Britain then cannot ‘tell everyone else that nuclear weapons are not needed in the future.’

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, extended Geoff Hoon’s invitation to Czech officials to include meeting British campaigners opposed to the missile defence system. She said:

‘CND invites the Czech officials to meet with us in order to present the case against involvement in the US Missile Defence system.  We believe that any involvement in the US plans will lead to a new global arms race, creating a future of global insecurity and conflict. The Missile Defence system will provide the US with first-strike capabilities against any state in the world, without fear of retaliation. The locating of radar stations and interceptor missiles in Europe put the citizens of host countries at risk of attack.’

She continued:  ‘At a time when the British Government is forcing through a vote on Trident replacement, Mr Hoon and his Cabinet colleagues should be listening to the peaceful majority who oppose the replacement of Britain’s nuclear weapons system, rather than promoting an aggressive military agenda.’


Notes to Editor:

1 . For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2 . An ICM poll from June 2006 showed that 81% of the British public believes that any decision on Trident replacement should be made by Parliament, not the Prime Minister alone.
3 . According to a July 2006 ICM poll, 59% of the British public opposes a replacement of Trident when presented with a cost of at least £25 billion.
4 . The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.