The majority of the reactions to Washington’s announced intention to break the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed between General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and President Nixon in 1972 have been hostile, except, predictably, NATO and the UK. While Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov praised Washington’s position of consultation with Russia, among other countries, before the NMD system is launched, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson stated that Washington’s decision to create a Nuclear Missile Defence (NMD) system, contrary to the clauses of the 1972 ABM Treaty, were “right” regarding the “new challenges in questions of security”, while Whitehall went further, with a statement by a spokesperson for Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was stated that the United Kingdom shares the preoccupations experienced by the USA and applauds “the determination shown by president Bush in consulting his allies over the future of a Missile Defence system”. Germany was more prudent. The German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, stated that Germany also shared Washington’s worries, namely a nuclear attack by Iran, Iraq, North Korea, or an act of nuclear terrorism by an extremist group. However, he states that “it is necessary that the NMD system is made in a setting which includes the cooperation of China and Russia”. According to press reports, not everyone is as satisfied as Igor Ivanov in Russia. Dimitri Rogozine, head of the Russian Foreign Office Parliamentary Commission, said that “If the USA go ahead with their intentions and abandon the (1972 ABM) Treaty, this will reduce the present security system to nothing”. Peking’s position was equally adamant, an unnamed official source stating that this decision by Washington “will not only restart the arms race and create a new proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but will also threaten peace and security in the world in the 21st century”. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UNO, issued the following statement: What is necessary is to “consolidate and construct the existing disarmament agreements on non-proliferation, especially, so as to avoid a new arms race”. Given that the USA has been trying to create a Nuclear Missile Defence shield since the 1950s, and that it has not yet been implemented, speaks volumes about the validity of such a system. Indeed, President Clinton abandoned the idea after a computer simulation proved that spending billions of dollars on a radar warning and anti-missile system would never be wholly effective. The USA can spend its billions on a satellite scan protection system, install particle beam accelerators in space, radar systems which provide early warning about missile launches elsewhere in the world and anti-missile missiles. Such schemes create international hype, sell newspapers and more importantly, stimulate the internal economy of the USA as arms contracts are handed out to those lobbies which “voted” President Bush and his Vice, “Dick” Cheney into office, apart from greasing the right palms. A flask of anthrax, bought from a rogue scientist somewhere in Central Asia for a million dollars, smuggled over the border from Mexico, and released into any supply system in any major US city, would be enough to create the havoc that the NMD intends to prevent, without missiles. The question here is very simple and nothing new : the President of the United States of America has had his period of grace, his 100 days in office and now it is pay-back time : he has now to return the favours he pulled to be elected. This means handing out lucrative contracts to his backers. Nothing will become of the NMD because it is a non-starter and is only intended to provide “jobs for the boys”.
JOHN ASHTEAD PRAVDA.RU LONDON
An unidentified man wielding a knife attacked civilians in the Church of Notre Dame in the French city of Nice. Three people were killed, several others were hospitalised with injuries.One of the victims was beheaded