GREENPEACE SAILS TO HEART OF STAR WARS TESTING PROGRAM AS THE USA PREPARES ANOTHER MISSILE TEST
London, February 13, 2001 - The international anti-nuclear and environmental organisation Greenpeace announced today that the SV Rainbow Warrior, has set sail from Auckland, New Zealand for the Pacific Star Wars test site to protest at the next scheduled test of the system and to call on U.S. President George W Bush to scrap the programme.
The SV Rainbow Warrior is sailing to the US Army Missile Testing Range at Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands where the launch site is located for the so called "kill vehicle" - a missile intended to intercept a simulated enemy missile fired from the Vandenberg US Air Force Base in California. The next test of the Star Wars system is scheduled for sometime between March and June. The SV Rainbow Warrior will arrive in the Marshall Islands mid-March. Two of the three previous tests have failed and questions have been raised over the one that the US military claims did succeed.
The decision to send the Rainbow Warrior to the Star Wars test site comes at a critical point in deciding the future of the Star Wars system. Lead by U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, an urgent review of the programme is underway and is expected to report to the President in late March. It also comes at a time when the Bush administration is engaged in a diplomatic offensive to persuade European allies to accept US Star Wars plans. Their most recent attempt was at a security conference in Munich two weeks ago where the German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, warned, that “missile defence must not come at the expense of arms control”. Other US allies have also expressed major concern such as the French President, Jacque Chirac, who recently warned that US Star Wars plans could not "fail to relaunch the arms race in the world".
"Star Wars will not protect the American people or its allies. In fact it will destroy all current and future nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements. The only beneficiaries of Star Wars will be the defence contractors," said Greenpeace Disarmament Campaigner, William Peden.
"Just as Greenpeace campaigned against nuclear testing in the Pacific, Greenpeace is campaigning against the testing of the Star Wars system; a system which threatens to ignite a new nuclear arms race and greatly increase the risk of nuclear war," Peden continued.
When the SV Rainbow Warrior arrives in the Marshall Islands Greenpeace is seeking meetings with Marshallese leaders; the Kwajalein Missile Range commander and to hold open days to discuss with the people of the Marshall Islands the Greenpeace campaign to stop the Star Wars programme and the threat it poses to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
"We are sailing the Rainbow Warrior to the heart of the Star Wars testing programme to call for the immediate cessation of US Star Wars plans because of the real and present threat they pose to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, something that Greenpeace has worked to achieve since it began thirty years ago," continued Peden.
"The Rainbow Warrior has a long history in our campaign to stop nuclear testing and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Its predecessor was blown up by the French in July 1985 as it was preparing to sail to the French nuclear testing nuclear test site in the Pacific." noted Peden.
For further information contact: Jon Walter, Greenpeace International Media Officer (Amsterdam) +31205249547 William Peden, Greenpeace International Disarmament Campaigner (Washington) +1 202 285 9130 Peter Morris onboard the Rainbow Warrior +31629001131
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