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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 16:25 GMT
Protest at North Yorkshire spy base
RAF Fylingdales protest
Protesters marked the general's Fylingdales visit
A military radar station in North Yorkshire has been targeted by demonstrators who fear it could play a role in a controversial United States missile defence project.

RAF Fylingdales was visited on Wednesday by a senior US general on what was described as a "familiarisation visit".

But Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, who heads the so-called "Son of Star Wars" project, was greeted by dozens of protesters at the base, near Whitby.

The demonstration was organised by the Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Fylingdales Action Network to coincide with the general's visit.

Protesters
The protesters braved terrible weather

The campaigners are worried the early warning station could be central to American plans.

Ankie Hoogvelt, of Yorkshire CND, said: "It's dangerous because it means a return to the nuclear arms race.

"It takes away our civil liberties because it gives the United States full intelligence gathering control over the whole planet and it costs so much money we could wipe out world poverty if we used it for that instead."

But the UK Government said it has not received a formal request from the US military to use Fylingdales and Menwith Hill, near Harrogate, in "Son of Star Wars".

However, last week Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon gave his strongest hint yet that the UK would back president George W. Bush's plans.

Mr Hoon warned that the potential for "rogue" states like Iraq to gain access to weapons of mass destruction strengthens the case for missile defence.

'No need to delay'

Critics claim allowing the use of British bases for US national missile defence might protect the US - but would put the UK at risk.

General Kadish refused to comment on the purpose of his visit, but on Tuesday he gave a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

He said: "We no longer need to experiment, to demonstrate or to prevaricate. We need to get on with this, and I am confident that we will.

"I will make a prediction that some time in the next five years or so, we will have effective defences against a multiple range of threats."


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09 Feb 02 | England
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