15th February 2008
MPs concerned about the UK’s involvement in the US Missile Defence programme have tabled an amendment to the government’s EU (Amendment) Bill and will raise their concerns in a debate on the foreign, security and defence policy of the Lisbon Treaty this Tuesday.
Over 100 MPs have now signed a motion demanding a Parliamentary debate on US Missile Defence but in its recent response to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC)’s Global Security: Russia report , the government stated that it ‘does not see the need for a further full Parliamentary debate’’ following that held five years ago in January 2003.
As the government has refused to engage in debate, a number of MPs have now submitted an amendment to ensure such a debate. There is growing concern across Europe at the US tactic of engaging in bilateral deals with the UK, Poland and Czech Republic, since the system is likely to impact upon the national security of other European states. Even within the three countries, a majority of the population is opposed to the system . Numerous MEPs raised their concerns at a recent debate in the European Parliament.
CND believes that US Missile Defence bases in the UK place us on the frontline in future wars involving the US – the government also stated in its response to the Foreign Affairs Committee report that ‘It is difficult to assess the likelihood’ of Russian strategic missiles being re-targeted if US Missile Defence goes ahead. However on 14th February, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated ‘If it appears, we will be forced to respond appropriately – we will have to retarget part of our systems against those missiles. We will be compelled to aim our missiles at facilities that we consider a threat to our national security.’
Jeremy Corbyn MP, sponsor of the amendment and Chair of Parliamentary CND, said:
‘ The EU Treaty debate gives us a chance to examine the role of US Missile Defence in Europe, which I believe merely exacerbates a new arms race and provokes the risk of intercontinental missiles being used in and over Europe. Future generations of Europeans will not thank us for allowing new weapons systems to be developed at such a dangerous time. ‘
The section of the Lisbon Treaty that the amendment refers to can be found on page C 306/25 of the document. [see note 8] In particular it states:
‘ Within the framework of the principles and objectives of its external action, the Union shall conduct, define and implement a common foreign and security policy, based on the development of mutual political solidarity among Member States, the identification of questions of general interest and the achievement of an ever-increasing degree of convergence of Member States’ actions. ’
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Notes for editors:
1.A YouGov opinion poll in the UK in July 2007 showed 54% believed US Missile Defence would make Europe less safe, while only 24% thought otherwise. A recent SMG/KRC poll in Poland, conducted from 1-3rd February 2008, showed 50% opposed ‘the deployment of the anti-missile shield’ in Poland, whilst 36% supported it and 14% not sure. A CVVM poll in the Czech Republic, conducted from 3-10th December 2007, showed 70% opposed the ‘construction of a US Missile Defence shield base in the Czech Republic’, whilst 23% supported it.
For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859 The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.