Mark Pritchard MP: Does Britain need a Missile Defence Shield?
Defence experts claim that Iran may have the
technical capability to develop a long-range Inter-Continental Ballistic
Missile by 2010. North Korea has already developed its Taepo Dong -2
Ballistic Missile which is within striking distance of Japan, South Korea, and
US bases in Asia. However, it is Pyongyang’s development
of a ballistic missile with a 6,700 km range that concerns Western intelligence
agencies most. This missile would put the United States’ western
It is within this fragile security context that the United States is continuing with the deployment of its Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMDS). Co-ordinated by The Missile Defence Agency (MDA) in the Pentagon the primary purpose of the BMDS, is to “to protect the United States, its deployed forces, allies and friends”. However, Pentagon watchers confirm the primary focus of the multi-billion dollar programme is to defend the United States from incoming ballistic missile attack and to ensure American dominance in what Pentagon chiefs call “the missile defence battlespace”. The MDA has already successfully tested and deployed both defensive and offensive weapon systems - providing the United States with counter-missile superiority.
The missile defence shield is provided through a series of fixed site sensors and interceptors at highly fortified locations in Alaska and California. Mobile sensors and interceptors are deployed aboard Aegis destroyers and cruisers. Airborne-launched systems, using highly advanced laser weapons, remain on permanent standby fixed to specially modified Boeing 747 aircraft. Pentagon officials claim the BMDS system is now so well advanced that the US military can successfully detect and destroy multiple ballistic missile launches - simultaneously.
So what of Britain’s missile defence? Those
opposed to any form of UK-based missile defence shield argue that no ICBM
threat exists and that neither North Korea nor Iran have developed missiles
within striking range of
Britain now needs to decide whether
it wants to sign up. The US Administration is currently looking for a European site which will
serve as the ‘third site’ for the Shield’s fixed site interceptors. Pentagon
officials have confirmed that
The question should not be: are we a target? rather, how can
Britain defend itself given we are already a target?
The Ministry of Defence’s lack of ‘strategic urgency’ on developing
measures to combat missile threatis in stark contrast to the actions of both
the Japanese and South Korean governments. Both countries have recently
purchased ship-based American PAC3 interceptor missiles, which are providing a
missile shield from rogue and/or targeted missiles from
Britain is now in the ludicrous position of knowing when we are coming under attack but not being capable of doing anything about it.
We are able to alert the Americans if they are coming under attack at the same time, but it is only our American cousins who are currently capable of foiling such an attack – an attack on their own shores.
Is it not time for the government to answer why Britain is accepting all
the risks of what is, to date, an ‘American Shield’, but is still not in
receipt of any obvious ‘protective benefits’ for the United Kingdom? Indeed,
unless Britain becomes an equal partner
with equal protection
If Britain did become an equal
partner, then the cost of deploying and storing interceptor missiles should be
paid for by the Americans. This would be an acceptable quid pro quo for
the American radar sensors at Fylingdales? The Pentagon should choose
Only a few years ago the successful development of a workable Ballistic
Missile Defence Shield which could successfully detect, track, and intercept
enemy missiles was dismissed by military chiefs, on both sides of the