Disarm the Missiles!
Missile Defense Increases the Risks of Nuclear Deterrence
Natural Scientists 2001 Initiative
[This press bulletin from May 8, 2001 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.natwiss.de/pressemitteilung_nawi_zur_bush_rede.htm.]
Declaration on the Address of US (P)resident George W. Bush, May 1, 2001
In his May 1 address, US President George W. Bush described the planned program for developing and stationing a missile defense as a contribution to overcoming nuclear deterrence and envisioned a reduction of the nuclear weapon arsenal. The Natural Scientists Initiative sees a costly and dangerous armament program in the planned missile defense that increases the risks of nuclear disarmament on earth and in outer space. The only possibility of removing the missile threat is the controlled abolition of nuclear missiles and ballistic missiles.
Bush's speech doesn't offer any new arguments that weigh the costs and risks of missile defense. With his SDI program, former US President Ronald Reagan pretended to make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete" and predicted overcoming deterrence. All serious scientific analyses have shown again and again that erecting a defensive shield against nuclear missiles is technically unrealistic and provokes military counter-measures triggering an arms dynamic undermining international security. With the justification that only defending against weapons is involved, it is assumed that a large number of new weapons systems with offensive capabilities will be developed and the US claim to rule will be expanded on earth and in outer space. The emerging uncertainties and threats create incentives for other states to counteract this dominance. Clear signals of this opposition exist from a revival of Russian superpower politics with new reliance on the nuclear strategy and massive Chinese rearmament plans to arms programs in other states of Asia.
If Europe also commits to an expensive missile defense program, the European arms industry may profit but the conditions for Europe's civil power will clearly worsen.
Selling the arms escalation starting from the missile defense plans of the US as disarmament is absurd. No one opposes a long over-due reduction of the enormous nuclear overkill potentials. However whoever believes the abolition of all nuclear weapons long urged by the peace movement is on Bush's agenda is deceived. The US government is anxious for a new deterrence system in which a protective shield complements the nuclear sword on a lower level. Thus the US capacity for worldwide warfare long restrained by the fear of retaliatory nuclear strikes would be enlarged. This will also be true for the European defense system assuring intervention capacity in the scope of the new Nato strategy.
If disassociating from nuclear deterrence were really its goal, the US should not continue hindering the nuclear disarmament process but serve as its pioneer. A first step would be the long overdue ratification of the nuclear weapon test ban by the US Congress. Additional measures include the drastic reduction of nuclear weapons in the start-process, the prohibition of the production and spread of nuclear weapon-grade materials and the resumption of negotiations in Geneva on elimination of all nuclear weapons. Advancing the international controls and disarmament of ballistic missiles and prohibiting outer space weapons as urged in the Gottingen appeal of November 2000 are especially pressing. An essential prerequisite is observance of the treaty on limiting missile defense systems (ABM treaty of 1972) that for a long time effectively prevented an arms race between offensive and defensive weapons.
Around 40 German organizations belonging to the network "Abolish Nuclear Weapons" founded a nation-wide initiative on March 24, 2001 directed against the missile defense plans of the US government and German participation. The appeal "Disarm the missiles!" is the center of the initiative. The Federal Government is urged "to refuse all participation in a missile defense system and to move the governments of the US and Europe to renunciation". "Instead of encouraging a new arms spiral on earth and in outer space through a costly arms program", political initiatives "leading to the sweeping disarmament of missiles and nuclear weapons" are underscored in the appeal. With a signature campaign for the appeal and other activities of the peace movement, the vital social debate on the dangerous billion-old armament program should be encouraged and rejection of missile defense strengthened.