Australian Groups Oppose US Missile Plan

Two Australian organizations Friday urged both the federal government and the Labor opposition to reject the US National Missile Defence (NMD) scheme.

Fearing a new cold war and a resumption of the global nuclear arms race, the Australian Peace Committee called on both the government and the Labor Party to speak out against the plan during a briefing Friday from a senior U.S. official.

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Earth (FOE) group urged the government not to allow joint U.S.-Australian facilities to be used to assist the missile scheme.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs James Kelly, will brief Australian parliamentarians on the plan in Melbourne.

Australian Peace Committee spokeswoman Irene Gale said the NMD would trash the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and would open the way for a resumption in the nuclear arms race.

FOE spokesman John Hallam said Australia would be lobbied to allow the joint facility in Australia's Pine Gap to cooperate with NMD.

Hallam said his group welcomed Labor's commitment to opposing NMD but wanted the government to also put the United States on notice that Australia would not have anything to do with the ill- considered scheme.

People's Daily Online ---