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Howard missile plan would destabilise region

Howard missile plan would destabilise region

New Zealand should be leaving the Howard government in no doubt of this country's abhorrence of any attempt to base US missiles in Australia, Green Party Disarmament spokesperson, Keith Locke said today.

The suggestion of an Australian buy-in to America's "Star Wars" missile system has been raised in an Australian security review which also recommends even closer military ties between Canberra and Washington.

"We shouldn't accept Howard's argument that the missiles are 'defensive'. They simply allow America to conduct a nuclear strike with fewer casualties back home. In any nuclear exchange, Australian-based missiles would be a target.

"As China has warned, the Australian move could provoke a regional arms race. A missile shield would encourage China to produce more nuclear missiles, so that it still had an ability to land one on an 'enemy.'"

Keith Locke said that if Australia buys in to "Star Wars" we would have to downgrade our defence relations.

"Kiwi troops on exercises in Australia may be seen as 'legitimate' targets in any attack associated with the missile defence system.

"Howard's announcement should also provoke a rethink of our participation in the US-run Echelon electronic spying network. While our satellite communications interception station at Waihopai is technically 'civilian', it does provide defence information to Australia and America, and could be a target in any nuclear exchange.

"Our nuclear-free credentials are at stake. New Zealand should be sending a strong protest to Canberra.."

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