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July, 10 2000

SUVA, Fiji Islands---The failure of another US missile test at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands highlights the folly of the new arms race in space, according to the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre.

"For fifty years, nuclear testing in the Pacific by the United States, France and Britain polluted our islands and our ocean. Now, these missile tests are desecrating our skies," states Losena Tubanavau Salabula of the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) in Suva, Fiji Islands.

On 8 July, the U.S. military tested its National Missile Defence (NMD) system in the central Pacific. A missile fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California released a mock nuclear warhead over the Pacific Ocean. Another missile launched from Meck Island in Kwajalein Atoll attempted - and failed - to shoot the warhead from the sky. This "Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle" failed to separate from the booster rocket, and the whole device completely missed the incoming target. A similar test in January 2000 also failed. The NMD tests are part of a U.S. effort to develop a new Star Wars system and the U.S. government will soon make a decision on whether to deploy the weapons system.

"Each anti-ballistic missile test at Kwajalein Atoll costs US$100 million dollars. The overall cost of the National Missile Defence system will be US$60 billion - money which could be put to better purposes," Mrs. Salabula stated. "The Marshall Islands government is currently asking the United States to pay extra compensation for Marshall Islanders who were irradiated by 67 U.S. nuclear tests at Bikini and Enewetak atolls between 1946-1958. How can the U.S. government justify this expensive missile testing program, when it refuses to face its responsibility for past nuclear tests? The Nuclear Claims Tribunal in the Marshall Islands has promised compensation to hundreds of Marshallese affected by the U.S. nuclear tests at Bikini and Enewetak. But over one third of those due to receive compensation from the U.S. government have died before full payment can be made."

In 1985, at the height of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, Pacific leaders signed the Rarotonga Treaty for a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.. This treaty expressed Pacific peoples' opposition to nuclear testing and the growing nuclear arms race, best symbolized by President Reagan's Star Wars. "Today, we are again threatened with an arms race in space. The creation of a U.S. National Missile Defence system will breach international arms control treaties, such as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty," states Mrs. Salabula. "The testing of the NMD system at the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) base can only take place because the US authorities are deaf to our call - we want a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific!"

The only path to peace and real security is the abolition of nuclear arms, not the development of new weapons of mass destruction. The Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement calls for an end to missile tests taking place at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

For further information, contact Mrs. Losena Tubanavau-Salabula at the PCRC office in Suva Fiji, by phoning (679) 304-649 or email on 

Pacific Concerns Resource Centre 83 Amy Street, Toorak Private Mail Bag Suva, FIJI ISLANDS

Contact phone: (679) 304-649 Fax: (679) 304-755 Email:  Web: 

PACIFIC CONCERNS RESOURCE CENTRE is the Secretariat of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement. It is registered in the Fiji Islands under the Charitable Trusts Act. PCRC is a Non-Governmental Organisation in General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.

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