25 July 2007: for immediate release

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament registered its outrage today at the announcement that RAF Menwith Hill is to be included in the US Missile Defence system with no democratic debate, consultation or accountability.

Defence Secretary Des Browne announced today that alongside the previously agreed use of the Fylingdales radar, the US spy base at Menwith Hill, near Harrogate, will receive satellite data on potential missile launches and feed this into the US Missile Defence system. The necessary antenna has already been installed in what the then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon described as being a development “dealt with entirely separately from missile defence” when the matter was raised by the Defence Select Committee in 2002 . When questioned by David Crausby MP on this matter, Geoff Hoon passed off Mr Crausby’s concerns as “an interesting approach to try and tie in two discrete issues”. It is now clear that these were not separate issues.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “This is an outrageous announcement made with total contempt for democracy and consultation. Where was the chance for MPs, let alone the public to discuss tying in Menwith Hill to the so-called Missile Defence system. It looks like the MoD and the US have deceived Parliament and deceived the British people when previously the Minister dismissed suggestions that developments at Menwith Hill would form part of NMD”.

She continued, “Des Browne is clearly disingenuous when he claims Missile Defence systems ‘are not for offensive use’  – this totally unnecessary system will protect no-one, but threaten all – by giving the US the ability to strike with impunity without any fear of retaliation. Having yet another Missile Defence base in Britain confirms our place on the front line. Were anyone to wish to attack the US, the top priority would be to destroy these defences, sited only a few miles from British towns and cities.”

“Missile Defence is already whipping up tensions in Europe in order supposedly to fight a threat that does not exist – rogue states with intercontinental ballistic missiles. The British Government seems to be fully signed up to this project which is leading to a rise in global tensions and provoking a new arms race. This is exactly why these systems were banned for 30 years until the US unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty (Anti-Balistic Missile Treaty of 1972). This is a provocative step – dangerous both for Britain and the world. ”

The MoD press release also states “Both sites [Fylingdales and Menwith Hill] remain under UK command” yet in the case of Menwith Hill this is far from the truth, most blatantly shown by the US post of ‘Base Commander’ and the huge majority of personnel located there being from the US.