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what about our china gas supply contract

  1. These people are the traitors - putting US interests ahead of Australia's. Buying squillion dollar missile defence systems from the US while the US picks off our resource contracts.


    Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has dismissed Chinese warnings that America's experimental missile defence system could spark a regional arms race.

    The Australian Government concedes the system might not be achievable but maintains it is worth investigating.

    Earlier today Prime Minister John Howard said Australia needs to consider ways to protect itself from a possible missile attack from North Korea.

    Mr Howard admits any involvement in the anti-missile program could be costly, but he has told Southern Cross radio the threat from North Korea is real and that imposes a serious obligation on the government.

    "Our first responsibility is to investigate ways of protecting Australia against dangerous behaviour by North Korea," Mr Howard said.

    China is trying to improve its own long-range nuclear weapons but Chinese embassy spokesman Feng Tie says America's planned missile defence system would trigger a new arms race in Asia.

    "It will have widespread and profound negative influence," he said.

    Mr Downer says North Korea could develop a missile that would reach Australia and America's missile shield is worth investigating.

    "If countries don't develop missiles, then there's no need for a missile defence system," he said.


    Too expensive

    The Federal Opposition says Australia cannot afford to get involved in the United States' anti-missile program.

    But Opposition leader Simon Crean says the missile defence program is not a realistic option for Australia.

    "The annual costs alone of investing in this is $8 billon, that's almost the entirety of our defence budget," he said.

    Mr Crean says Australia should look for a diplomatic solution to the threat from North Korea.

    He also said the government's strategic defence review is an attempt to justify its position on Iraq.

    Mr Crean says the document maintains the approach outlined in the 2000 defence White Paper to defend and protect Australia's coastline.

    But he says the review is also a shallow and contradictory attempt to lock the government in to the "coalition of the willing".

    "What we have here is the attempt to justify the response to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction through a solution that doesn't strengthen us in our region, but supports and justifies the expeditionary type activities unilaterally driven," he said.


    Warning

    China has warned Australia of a new arms race escalating if missile defence systems are developed in the region.

    China and India, along with North Korea, are developing their own long-range missile systems.

    A Chinese embassy spokesman, Feng Tie, says China's in-principle position is one of concern about anti-missile systems.

    "We believe the development of national missile defence and theatre missile defence is bound to undermine the global strategic balance and will lead to a new round of arms race," he said.

    He says the region does not need a new arms race.

    "The international cooperation in a missile defence area should not compromise other countries' security interests, should not lead to the establishment and strengthening of exclusive military or political blocs and of course should not damage the global and the regional stability and security."

    The US ambassador to Australia Tom Schieffer has refused to comment.


    Criticism

    Anti-war groups say Australian development of a missile shield would destabilise the region.

    "It's a very short term solution and very short-sighted approach to problems that we do face in the region right now," Greenpeace campaign director Lena Aahlby said.

    The proposal has been condemned by the Australian anti-US bases coalition.

    Hannah Middleton is the campaign's spokeswoman on missile defence and says it will create further insecurity.

    "China is going to feel threatened by that, as well as other countries," she said.

    "Of course it's going to rack up tension and insecurity and military spending in the region, and it's going to risk us becoming a nuclear target once again."

    An Australian National University international relations expert thinks any missile defence system would an expensive failure.

    Dr Michael McKinley says testing so far has shown dismal results.

    "Even if you allow for the fact that they might improve, what has not been taken sufficiently into account at this stage, is according to all of the specialists, the attacking side has extraordinary advantages," he said.

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