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Missile Defence is blocking disarmament

On Thursday February 12 an informal meeting took place with German MPs, organised by Uta Zapf, Chair of the Sub commission for Disarmament and Co-President of PNND. Jan Tamáš, head of the non-violent movement against the planned radar installation in the Czech Republic as part of the US missile defence system, informed MPs about the current situation and the campaign against the radar.

Jan Tamáš told the participants how the 2 ½ year campaign included a hunger strike for 21 days last May and had already over 140,000 online signatories opposing the missile defence installation. He explained the positions of the different political parties in the Czech Republic and said that the current government was very unstable. However, a new government under the Social Democrats might not withdraw from the project, if the treaty has been ratified by then, even though they presently oppose the radar.

Uta Zapf, MP, chair of the subcommittee on disarmament, arms control and non proliferation, said that missile defense could block the negotiations between Russia and the US on a new START-Treaty. "The positions on a new START-Treaty of both countries are quite close, but as long as the plans of the US for deployment of MD in Europe are not changed, there will be no consensus on lower numbers of nuclear weapons.". Also she warned of plans to arm nuclear capable ballistic missiles with conventional warheads because of the danger of ambiguity.

Xanthe Hall from IPPNW said that the German Government has never stated a position regarding the missile defence project in the Czech Republic and Poland. “Governments are afraid to speak out on this issue although nobody wants missile defence in Europe”.

Brundhilde Irber, MP from Deggendorf / Freyung-Grafenau in border region of Germany to the Czech republic, said there was a need to discuss the radar in this region.

The participants felt that there was a need for more debate on missile defence at a European level. The non-violent movement against the radar will travel together with the League of the Mayors against the radar from the Czech Republic and Europe for Peace to a public hearing in the European Parliament next Wednesday, February 18 in Brussels. Some 120 people including dozens of Czech mayors will participate and will be supported by public events in several European cities like Berlin, Rom, Madrid, Budapest and Kopenhagen.

"There is very little awareness about the project in the European Parliament," Tamáš said, adding that MEPs were interested in more information about missile defence. He said that the MEPs whom the Czech opponents to the radar had met so far were shocked by the progress in the negotiations with the USA and by the extent that Czech citizens disagreed with the construction of the radar. According to public opinion polls, about two-thirds of Czechs reject the U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic.

Michael Steinbach