Australia to be Nuclear Guinea Pigs Again?

May 11, 2001

Friends of the Earth, Australia has today called on the Government and the ALP to reject the Bush administration's National Missile Defence (NMD) scheme. US State Department Assistant Secretary James Kelly is will meet 'selected front benchers' in Melbourne today as part of US plans to promote the controversial "Star Wars" scheme. Mr. Kelly is also set to brief Opposition leader Kim Beazley this afternoon before meeting with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for talks in Adelaide tomorrow.

The visit comes amid revelations that Australian servicemen were used as 'radiological guinea pigs' during British nuclear weapons testing at Maralinga, South Australia. A new report has used official documents to show that Australian service personnel were used to test the effectiveness of protective clothing against explosions. The British government has previously denied any such action.

"50 years on from nuclear weapon testing in Australia the full impacts are only now emerging" said Bruce Thompson, FoE Nuclear Campaigner.

"The revelations come amid plans by another country's military to again use the centre of Australia as part of its nuclear war plans. This time the threat is from the US but, like Maralinga, it is secretive and unsafe."

The US are seeking Australia's cooperation in the use of the Pine Gap joint facility near Alice Springs. Pine Gap's role of surveillance over the Asia- Pacific is seen as central to the NMD programme.

"National Missile Defence as proposed by the Bush administration contravenes the important Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and is likely to lead to increases in nuclear armaments and in the alert status of nuclear forces in Russia, China, India, and Pakistan" said John Hallam, FoE Nuclear Weapons Campaigner.

"As the dark history of the nuclear weapons age comes further to light it would be reckless of our Government to be part of a new round of nuclear mistakes" concluded Mr Thompson

For further information contact:

Bruce Thompson
Nuclear Campaigner
Mob: 0417 318 368

John Hallam
Weapons Campaigner
Ph: (02) 9517 3903