CNMI PETITIONS FOR U.S. MILITARY BASE

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By Liberty Dones

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 4) –A petition urging the U.S. government to pursue its military use plan of Tinian as originally planned has been circulating on the island, local officials said.

Tinian Gov. Francisco M. Borja said he fully supports the plan, which is seen to significantly boost the island's economy.

"We have a petition circulating here in support of the permanent military base here. We want the military to do something on Tinian," said Borja.

He said the petition complements a resolution that recently passed the Senate, asking the federal government to revive its military plan in the Northern Marianas.

Tinian senator Joseph Mendiola, in Senate Resolution 14-48, said that setting up a permanent U.S. military base in the CNMI is pursuant to the 1976 Covenant.

The resolution cited that the most important factor in negotiating the Covenant which created the CNMI in political union with the U.S. was the acquisition of Tinian land totaling over 17, 799 acres for U.S. military use.

It cited that in 1971, the U.S. Department of Defense had presented a $114 million project for Tinian.

Under the plan, the Tinian facility would be for B-52 reflex capabilities, a cargo aircraft thru-put capabilities, a logistics complex, a port complex, and the development of a maneuver area.

In 1972, the department reiterated the importance of Tinian in a briefing paper, saying that Tinian land "is a definite and real requirement, whose attainment may very well be possible now, but extremely difficult in the future."

In 1973, U.S. Deputy Representative for Micronesian Status Negotiations James Wilson had stated that "Tinian's military base would be developed in several stages" and that ultimately, it would consist of 2,600 military and civilian personnel, plus at least 300 direct hires from the local community.

The senate resolution also said that U.S. officials had instructed military services to develop programming proposals for Tinian to be included in the construction program for fiscal year 1974.

Further, the resolution cited that the Defense department had approved in Aug. 1973 a programming plan for Tinian base and the air force had allocated $279,000 for planning and surveys.

During World War II, the U.S. military used Tinian to launch its atomic attack against Japan.

Tinian people "have sacrificed economic development in the prime portions of its land in return for the promise of a fully functional U.S. military installation," the resolution said.

A copy of the resolution will be transmitted to President Bush, U.S. Congress, Secretary of State Condelisa Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, and various military officials.

April 4, 2005

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

 

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