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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 19:17 GMT
Son of Star Wars 'threatens stability'
Menwith Hill communication centre, near Harrogate
The US system will depend on British bases
Maverick Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle has accused the government of being "economical with the truth" over its support for the controversial US National Missile Defence plan.


National Missile Defence is one of the biggest, if not the biggest threat, to global stability that we face in contemporary times

Peter Kilfoyle
The former defence minister said the so-called 'Son of Star Wars' system was one of the biggest current threats to global stability.

It was expensive, based on unproven technology and demonstrably not in the UK's interest, Mr Kilfoyle told a debate at Westminster Hall.

In reply, Armed Forces minister Adam Ingram accused Mr Kilfoyle of being "hypercritical" of the US administration.

He said the potential threat of the proliferation of ballistic missiles was widely accepted.

'Slavish support'

The US plan to develop a defensive screen for the whole of the country, with the ability to track and destroy incoming ballistic missiles, depends on the use of early warning systems in Greece and the UK.


Missile Defence can be viewed as a response to existing missile proliferation, not a cause

Adam Ingram, armed forces minister

Mr Kilfoyle criticised the UK government's "slavish support" for the US military, saying Britain's involvement in missile defence would make it a "frontline target" in any doomsday scenario.

"I would ask the Government to do what America does and place our own national interests first," Mr Kilfoyle said.

Russians 'let down'

Mr Kilfoyle, who quit his ministerial post in 2000 to "speak up for his constituents" from the backbenches, has been a persistent thorn in the side of the government on defence issues.

Peter Kilfoyle MP
Kilfoyle: vocal critic of defence policy
He criticised the "unilateralism" of the US administration in pressing ahead with the missile defence plan, warning that the Russians had been left feeling "peeved and let down", while the Chinese were about to quadruple their stock of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"National Missile Defence is one of the biggest, if not the biggest threat, to global stability that we face in contemporary times," he added.

UK at risk

Mr Ingram, for the government, said the threat of ballistic missiles being used against the UK had diminished since the end of the Cold War.

"But we are also conscious that the United Kingdom often deploys its armed forces to areas of the world where ballistic missiles are available to our potential adversaries."

He dismissed the theory that Missile Defence would lead to a new arms race as "conjecture."

"Missile Defence can be viewed as a response to existing missile proliferation, not a cause."

See also:

15 Dec 01 | Media reports
US ABM decision 'Russia's failure'
03 Dec 01 | Americas
US missile shield test postponed
13 Jul 01 | Americas
Q & A: Son of Star Wars
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