US missile system may lead to 'doomsday scenario' : LUSENET : unwc : One Thread

Defence chief: US missile system may lead to 'doomsday scenario'

By Kim Sengupta

16 February 2001

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie, warned yesterday of a "doomsday scenario" if America presses ahead with its controversial national missile defence system (NMD).

In his last day as the head of Britain's armed forces, General Guthrie said there was a real danger not only of Russia turning to bellicose nationalism, but also of a rift opening between Ameraica and its traditional allies in Europe over the "Son of Star Wars" project. But General Guthrie said that although the NMD system was "bloody expensive and extremely difficult to use" it was inevitable because America was determined to have it.

"What really worries me, and it would be terrible, is a doomsday scenario," the general said. "If the Russians become more nationalistic and the Europeans and the Americans take a different view [on missile defence] then there would be a wedge between us.

"It is extremely important that the Americans talk to the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese. They have got to have a dialogue ... I don't know whether we [in Britain] are under the umbrella, whether the Europeans will be, whether the Russians will be."

General Guthrie's views will be embarrassing to the Tories. William Hague has said that a Tory government would back the Bush administration over NMD and attacked Tony Blair for his "wait and see" approach.

General Guthrie's comments highlight the growing concern about NMD among senior ranks of the military in Britain and Western Europe. It also comes on the day it was revealed that Russia had formally warned the British embassy in Moscow that its strike aircraft will be conducting long range missions to the British coastline. In a display of military "muscle flexing" not seen since the days of the Cold War, Russian jets triggered air alerts from Norway to Japan. Their action has been interpreted as an indication of Moscow's anger over NMD, which it maintains is in contravention of the 1972 AntiBallistic Missile Treaty.

-- Ken Engupta (, March 06, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ