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Letter from Jeremy Corbyn and Kate Hudson to Czech Deputies

31.3.2009 - Jeremy Corbyn, Kate Hudson
Below is the email letter sent on Tuesday, 17th of March to all Deputies of the Czech Lower House, by Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Member of Parliament and Chair of Parliamentary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, with regard to the proposed US Missile Defence radar in the Czech Republic.

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Dear colleagues,

We are writing to express our concerns with the proposals to deploy a US Missile Defence radar in the Czech Republic.

The recent statement of 7th February 2009 by US Vice-President Joe Biden, who said that the White House wants to ‘press the reset button’ on US relations with Russia was most welcome. To pursue the deployment of US Missile Defence bases in Europe now would prevent that resetting of relations. Europe must take a lead in improving both US-Russia and Europe-Russia relations, not only in its dealings with Moscow but also in its negotiations with Washington.

We hope there will be continued opposition to Czech involvement in the US Missile Defence system in order to ensure that Russia and the US under the new President Obama are able to pursue improved relations in the coming months. President Bush insisted that the US needed Missile Defence in case terrorists or ‘rogue’ states such as Iran or North Korea ever develop ICBMs able to reach them. This is not a plausible justification for the system. In fact, terrorists could deliver a nuclear weapon more easily, cheaply, and with less likelihood of detection in other ways – in a truck, on board ship, or even part of an aeroplane. States like Iran are unlikely to obtain long-range missile capability for some years.

We believe you are fortunate in comparison to British Parliamentarians in that you will be allowed a vote on your involvement in US Missile Defence. The UK has assumed a significant role in the programme, without parliamentary scrutiny or accountability. The UK now has two military bases supporting the US Missile Defence system, at Fylingdales and Menwith Hill.

Fylingdales is one of five US Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar stations across the world. In 2003 Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister, gave permission for the base to become part of the US Missile Defence programme. There was a House of Commons debate but Members of Parliament were not permitted a vote. Despite major public and political opposition on the grounds of international security and local health concerns, the upgrade process was completed and the base became operational for missile defence in August 2007.

Menwith Hill is run by the US National Security Agency (NSA), operates outside US law and is not accountable in British law. The base was formally assigned to the US Missile Defence system in July 2007 when the government announced it in a written statement on the day before the summer closure of Parliament. The ‘manner and timing’ of the announcement ‘and the resulting lack of Parliamentary debate on the matter’ was criticised when scrutinised by the House of Common’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

We are concerned that UK involvement in the US Missile Defence programme makes us a military target for those engaging in conflict with the US, and we are concerned that the case will be the same with the US missile defence bases proposed for the Czech Republic and Poland.

The US claims that missile defence is necessary to deal with missile threats from Iran are not credible. Russia understands this. We therefore believe an extension of the system to eastern Europe will further harm attempts to improve relations with Russia and will be detrimental to the security interests of the whole of Europe.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Corbyn
Labour Member of Parliament for Islington North (London)
Chair, Parliamentary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Kate Hudson
Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

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