Article by the Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP

- Monday, 30th April 2001

 

We are all concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, in addition to the major nuclear powers, several smaller countries now have access to nuclear technology. Some of those countries have irrational and unpredictable leaders at their helm. It is those ?rogue nations? that Ballistic Missile Defence is designed to protect against. For Ballistic Missile Defence to work effectively two existing early warning stations here in the United Kingdom will have to be up-graded. In return, Britain should be ale to secure coverage by the system without cost to the British Taxpayer. There are no plans to station interceptor missiles on our soil.

The Ministry of Defence has let it be known that it supports missile defence. We believe that it is time to make it clear to the United States that Britain would respond positively to a proposal for the upgrade by the United States of Menwith Hill and Fylingdales as part of a United States/NATO ballistic missile defence, should that be necessary.

Existing weapons reduction programmes will still be in place. Indeed, the Americans have offered to share the technology with President Putin of Russia which would provide an opportunity for enhanced co-operation between the two leading nuclear powers.

The ABM Treaty was signed between the United States and the Soviet Union. Since then the Soviet Union has disintegrated, leaving numerous smaller states ? many with nuclear arsenals. Many of them are in economic difficulties. It is their nuclear warheads that could fall into the hands of unscrupulous leaders. Add to that the rocket booster technology that some countries are exporting and the need for an effective Ballistic Missile Defence system becomes more important.

 

 

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