|Vol.7, No.20, 17.5.01, p8
PRESIDENT George W. Bush's plan for a missile defence shield is designed to allow the US to take on Iraq and China without fear of nuclear retaliation, according to a leading defence expert.
Dr Stephen Pullinger, executive director at the International Security Information Service, dismisses US claims that the planned NMD shield is intended to protect mainland US against attacks by 'rogue states'.
"The US wants missile defence not because Iraq or North Korea will lob missiles at them. They want to be able to fight Saddam [Hussein] even if he has nuclear missiles so they can intervene in the region," Pullinger told a Brussels conference organised by the Centre for European Security and Defence.
The academic, who advised the UK's House of Commons special committee on missile defence, also argued that the US was not sincere in its claims that North Korea represented a serious threat, saying instead that the administration wants to be able to deal with China. "China is emerging as a threat in the Pacific," he said. "They are just using North Korea as a decoy."
The US has argued that NMD is necessary to protect America and its allies from attacks by countries like Iraq or North Korea which are developing weapons of mass destruction.
Pullinger's comments will increase scepticism in European capitals about the wisdom of Bush's plans. Russia and China have already reacted angrily to the scheme, arguing it would break existing arms control agreements such as the Anti-Ballistic Missiles treaty.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac called on the US to consult with their European allies on their plans at a meeting last week. Chirac said: "Even though, at the moment, we have some reservations, these must be discussed."
France has been one of the strongest European opponents of NMD. Last week senior envoys from the Bush administration met their counterparts in NATO member states as well as Russia, Japan and South Korea to discuss the NMD shield. Reactions ranged from firm opposition to a demand for more information.
Pullinger believes that US could set up a scheme that would not break existing treaties and which the Russian and Chinese could accept provided it was targeted specifically at possible attacks by rogue states.
George W. Bush's plan for a missile defence shield is designed to allow the US to take on Iraq and China without fear of nuclear retaliation, according to a leading defence expert.
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