Новости из Австралии и Новой Зеландии

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Австралия намерена расширить список террористических организаций
27.05 12:36 | MIGnews.com
Во вторник 27 мая генеральный прокурор Австралии Дэрил Уильямс сообщил представителям прессы, что австралийское правительство готовит проект закона, который позволит объявить ряд исламских радикальных группировок – террористическими организациями.

В частности, в "черный список" правительства Австралии должна попасть шиитская группировка "Хизбалла", действующая на юге Ливана.

До последнего времени в Австралии террористическими считались те организации, которые признаны таковыми ООН. Однако, как подчеркнул Уильямс, в ООН статус "террористической организации" присваивается лишь тем группировкам, которые связаны с "Талибаном" и "Аль-Каидой", что не в полной мере отражает реальную ситуацию.

Новый закон позволит привлекать к суду в Австралии активистов и пособников организаций, перечисленных в обновленном "черном списке". Действующий уголовный кодекс предусматривает наказание террористам – до 25 лет тюремного заключения.


Лучезарный колёс
Aussie government, opposition wrangle over ban on Lebanese Hezbollah

SYDNEY, May 27 (AFP) - Prime Minister John Howard's government and its rivals in parliament wrangled Tuesday over how to outlaw the radical Lebanese Islamic group Hezbollah, which both camps say poses a terrorist threat to Australians.

Under current law, the government can only proscribe groups listed as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council.
Hezbollah, a militant Shiite movement backed by Syria and Iran, is a mainstream political party in Lebanon, with elected members in parliament, and has not be targetted for UN sanctions.

But Canberra wants action against the group since it threatened to kill Australians over the country's role in the recent war on Iraq.

Howard has used the Hezbollah threat to press controversial legislation giving government the power to outlaw groups and arrest their followers even if they have not been deemed terrorist organizations by the United Nations.

The main opposition Labor party, which opposes broadening the government mandate, said Tuesday it would instead submit a bill to specifically outlaw Hezbollah under the existing Australian criminal code.

"Labor will not support sweeping changes to the legislation by giving a government minister the power to unilaterally ban organisations in Australia," party leader Simon Crean said.

"I acknowledge the threat from the Hezbollah terrorist organisation," he said. "If we are going to deal with the issue, deal with it by way of a specific, precise piece of legislation that nominates it."

Attorney-General Daryl Williams countered that the government would pursue its drive for broader overall powers to act against terrorist groups.

An earlier attempt to pass the legislation as part of a broader anti-terrorism bill was defeated in the opposition-controlled Senate.

Williams told public radio the government had informed the opposition of its proposal to resubmit the measure in parliament.

"Now the UN security Council is only interested in terrorist organisations associated with the Taliban or al-Qaeda," he said.

"We need to be pre-armed to deal with a potential terrorist threat. ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) has regularly reported that there are within Australia supporters of external terrorist organisations," he said.

"Hezbollah is an external terrorist organisation."


Лучезарный колёс

14:02 AEST Tue 5 Aug 2003
Tight budget may see F-111s go

Australia's controversial F-111 strike bombers are reaching the end of their life and a review of the Defence Capability Plan later this year may decide they are too expensive to keep.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Robert Hill said the current Defence Capability Plan (DCP) called for the F-111s to remain in service to 2015-2020.

"Unless and until the government changes that plan, that still stands," she told AAP.

"We are doing a review of the DCP. We have said there may need to be some changes in light of changes to the strategic environment.

"That has some months to run before it gets to cabinet. We wouldn't speculate on any suggestions or options that may be coming from defence. But it would be a mistake to reach conclusions either way at this stage."

The Australian newspaper reported the F-111s could be retired as early as 2006 under a defence submission to the DCP review.

Australia ordered 24 F-111s off the drawing board in 1963 but the first did not arrive until June 1973. A further 15 surplus US aircraft were acquired in 1993 to make up losses. Thirty-five remain in service.

No other aircraft on earth matches the F-111 for long range low level strike capability and they form a key part of Australia's order of battle.

But the F-111s are not stealthy by today's standards and they are becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain.

"I am confident that we can, given sufficient funding ... get the aircraft through to the end of the decade," air force chief Air Marshal Angus Houston told a Senate estimates committee in June.

The RAAF's problem is that the service life of the F/A-18 Hornets expires about 2015. But the proposed new Joint Strike Fighter won't be available until around the same time.

An interim solution would be to lease aircraft, as the RAAF did with a squadron of F-4 Phantoms in the early 1970s following delays in arrival of the F-111s.

Dr Alan Stephens, of the RAAF Air Power Studies Centre, said the F-111 was likely to be paid off sooner rather than later.

"It is being done for reasons of money," he said on ABC radio.

"The assessment that there is no external threat to the Australian continent for 15 years is the context for it, tied into the perceived need to support the international war against terrorism.

"There is just not enough money to go round. Something has go to give in the defence budget."

Dr Stephens said the F-111 was the single most important air capability the Australian Defence Force ever possessed.

"For 30 years it has generated a unique deterrent effect in the Australian region," he said.

"The question has to be - can we forgo this deterrent effect at the expense of diverting money towards some kind of other capability."



Лучезарный колёс
Джо Гутник - как это делается в Сиднее

Gutnick seizes schools and changes locks
August 13, 2003 - 1:22PM

Joe Gutnick ... battle over outstanding $5 million.

The gates closed today on two Jewish schools and a synagogue in Sydney following a lengthy court battle over a $5 million loan from mining magnate Joe Gutnick.

Removalists arrived this morning to take away truckloads of goods and furniture from the Yeshiva Boys High School, the Yeshiva Gedola Rabbinical College and an adjoining synagogue in Bondi before the NSW Sheriff changed the locks and handed the keys to Mr Gutnick's lawyers.

The closure was ordered by the NSW Supreme Court after it found Mr Gutnick should take possession of the adjoining properties to cover his loan, which grew with interest to $15 million by August 11.

Yeshiva's spiritual leader Rabbi Pinchus Feldman and his wife Pnina Feldman - Mr Gutnick's sister - fought the repayment claim, arguing under Jewish law the original $5 million bailout was a charitable donation that should not be repaid.

However, Mr Gutnick's lawyers, accompanied by the sherriff, took possession of the schools and the synagogue, leaving around 90 students to be temporarily housed in halls around Bondi.

Yeshiva Properties company secretary Henry Kinstlinger said it was a sad moment for the Jewish community but they would band together and rebuild to get over this hurdle.

He said there had also been talk between the community and Mr Gutnick that the schools and synagogue, which had so far not been sold, would stay in Jewish hands.

"Various members of the community are having private discussions with a lot of people trying to maintain the integrity of the organisation," Mr Kinstlinger said.

"... they are certainly having private conversations with Rabbi Gutnick ... (but) what might eventuate I don't know, there is no surety.

"Fortunately the community is more than bricks and mortar."

Contracts for the sale of Yeshiva's rabbinical dormitory and an administration block, both in Flood St, Bondi, were exchanged on August 4 and were expected to secure $4.5 million.

Mr Kinstlinger said if the current buildings up for sale did not reach the $15 million mark then an application may be made by Mr Gutnick for Yeshiva's Dover Heights campus - which houses a pre-school, primary school and girls high school.

"We have been advised by Joe Gutnick's solicitors that they anticipate a $6 million shortfall in the realisation of the properties ... and they have reserved their right to pursue that," Mr Kinstlinger said of the Dover Heights campus.

An emotional Mrs Feldman left the synagogue after the gates were locked but had no comment for the waiting media.



Лучезарный колёс
Media Release 18/03, 29 August 2003
Defence Science and Technology Organisation

NASA tests Australian insect vision aircraft

Embargoed until Monday 1 September 2003

Australian researchers will travel to the United States this week to demonstrate an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) featuring information processing technology drawn from insects and that may be included in future Martian aerial probes.




Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Евреям Австралии угрожают терактами
07.09 06:42 | MIGnews.com
Правительство Австралии предупреждает, что еврейская община страны может стать целью для террористов. Такую информацию австралийские спецслужбы получили после ареста в Пакистане одного из авторов терактов 11 сентября Халеда Шейх Мохаммеда.

Еврейская община Австралии насчитывает около 100 тысяч человек. Президент Еврейской организации страны Стефен Ротман считает, что полученная спецслужбами информация абсолютно однозначна: речь идет о террористических организациях на территории Австралии, которые пока никак себя не проявили, но могут это сделать в любой момент.

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Австралийским шпионам выдадут… оружие
12.10 06:57 | MIGnews.com
Австралийские агенты, принимающие участие в операциях, проводимых за пределами страны, отныне получают право иметь при себе, а в случае необходимости, и пользоваться личным огнестрельным оружием.

Такова вкратце суть нового законопроекта, который будет представлен парламенту на этой неделе, заявил сегодня министр иностранных дел Австралии Александр Даунер.

Это также значит, что агенты Австралийской службы секретной разведки (АССР) отныне имеют право защищать свою жизнь, а также присоединяться к операциям военных и полиции в качестве "боевой единицы", отметил Даунер в своем выступлении по телеканалу Channel Nine.

Сама инициатива нового закона предлежала разведчикам, которые после 11 сентября 2001 года, вступив в войну с террористами, постоянно подвергают себя смертельной опасности.

Вместе с тем, Даунер отмел предположения, что австралийских шпионов превращают в этаких "джеймс бондов", подчеркнув, что они просто получают возможность использовать оружие в целях личной защиты.


Лучезарный колёс
Australia launches commando recruitment drive
By Michael Perry

SYDNEY, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Australia launched a public recruitment drive for more than 300 elite commando and special forces troops on Monday to further bolster its defence and help meet commitments to the U.S.-led war on terror.

The break with tradition of only recruiting elite soldiers from within defence ranks was necessary to fill 334 extra commando places announced by the government earlier in the year, Special Operations Commander, Major-General Duncan Lewis, said.

Australia has about 2,000 special forces troops, which were deployed in the early stages of the U.S.-led offensives in Afghanistan and Iraq, winning high praise from U.S. commanders for their ability to operate undetected behind enemy lines.

"We are after young men, fit, bright...who can commit to a cause, because the cause we are asking them to commit to is a serious one. It is the security of this country," Lewis told reporters at Sydney's Garden Island naval base.

To launch the recruitment drive, commandos, usually reluctant to be photographed or filmed, parachuted into Sydney Harbour, rappelled from Black Hawk helicopters and clambered ashore onto a rocky point, all before television news cameras.

Lewis said recruits, aged 19 to 30, would undergo accelerated training, with those successful taking around 18 months to reach the elite level where they may see military action.

Those recruited from the public will undergo seven weeks basic army training, 12 weeks infantry training and eight weeks accelerated training merely to reach the stage where they will be tested to see if they are ready for Special Forces training.

The Special Forces Barrier test involves a four-hour march with 28 kg (62 pound) pack and weapon, a 3.2 km (2 miles) run with pack and weapon, a 400 metre (430 yards) swim in 18 minutes in combat uniform, a 10-hour endurance navigation test and theory tests on weapons and mechanics.

If recruits pass the entry test they will face six months training, involving parachuting, rappelling and patrolling, before selection as a commando or possibly into the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) based in Perth.

An advertisement announcing the recruitment drive warned: "The failure rate throughout the entire selection process is high". If successful, recruits can expect a special forces wage of A$64,000 (US$44,140) a year.

Lewis said he expected the bulk of commandos and special forces would still be recruited from the army, navy and air force. "This direct recruitment from the community will only gather one quarter to one third of our needs," he said.

The commando and special forces public recruitment drive, similar to elite troop recruitment drives in the United States, will last for an initial three year trial. ($1 = A$1.45)

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
В Австралии найден нелегальный склад оружия
26.10 23:17 | MIGnews.com
Более 133.000 патронов, 29 единиц огнестрельного оружия и самурайский меч – такой арсенал обнаружила полиция на одной из ферм в австралийском штате Новый Южный Уэльс.

Раскрыть нелегальный склад оружия удалось в ходе трехдневной операции, проводимой в 50 км от городка Гриффит.

Отмечается, что кроме огнестрельного оружия на той же ферме был найден большой запас запчастей к нему, детонаторы для взрывных устройств, дымовые шашки и холодное оружие.

За каждый найденный предмет 40-летнему владельцу фермы предъявлено обвинение в незаконном владении нелицензированным и незарегистрированным оружием.

Задержанный был пока выпущен под залог, суд назначен на 26 ноября. Имя владельца опасного склада не называется.

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Австралийские солдаты – наркоманы
06.11 09:31 | MIGnews.com
Проверка на одной из австралийских военных баз показала, что половина из проходящих там службу солдат (47 из 97) употребляли наркотики.

Ознакомившись с такими результатами, командование приняло решение проводить внеплановые тесты военнослужащих и на других базах, чтобы установить масштабы явления и пресечь его.

По словам представителя Армии обороны Австралии, командование серьезно обеспокоено распространением наркотиков среди военнослужащих и не намерено терпеть это явление.

Вместе с тем выяснилось, что иногда офицеры смотрят сквозь пальцы на употребление марихуаны своими подчиненными. К примеру, отставной подполковник Деннис Бурк заявил, что подобные вопросы "никогда его не беспокоили".

"Вот я иногда выпиваю. А эти ребята временами выкурят косячок-другой вместо выпивки. Это их личное дело", - объяснил свою позицию Бурк.

Правда, не все австралийское командование является такими же либералами, как подполковник Бурк. Армия намерена предпринять решительные меры, чтобы солдаты не оказывались на боевых дежурствах, будучи одурманенными наркотиками.

В то же время армейское руководство обвинило правительство страны в попустительстве наркоманам. Правительство долго не соглашалось разрешить проводить в армии такие же проверки, которые стали правилом в гражданской авиации, горнодобывающей промышленности и в некоторых других сферах.


Лучезарный колёс
Израильские полицейские - наркоманы.

Среди израильских полицейских вырос процент наркоманов
14:14 07 Ноября 2003

На последнем заседании комиссии Кнессета по делам борьбы с наркоманией обсуждался рост наркопреступности в среде израильских полицейских. По сведениям представителя специального подразделения по расследованию действий полиции, функционирующего при министерстве юстиции, за 3 последних года было возбуждено 91 подобное уголовное дело. Однако лишь 20 полицейских были допрошены - остальные дела были спущены на тормозах уже в самом начале.



Лучезарный колёс
Air force informant pleads for protection
05-Nov-2003 12:49 GMT
Financial Times Limited

AN AIR force whistleblower, who is in hiding after having been bashed by a former colleague, pleaded yesterday with the Federal Government to ensure his safety. Nathan Moore, 23, said he had received death threats since making allegations about drug production and missing weapons at Amberley Air Force Base in Queensland. On Wednesday, an airman from the Royal Australian Air Force elite Airfield Defence Guard was fined $150 for assaulting Mr Moore and a further $200 for possessing steroids. Mr Moore is in hiding on the Sunshine Coast after receiving a series of death threats. ''I blew the whistle on illegal activities, and did it out of my loyalty to the defence force,'' Mr Moore said in a statement issued yesterday through the Australian Plaintiff Lawyers Association. ''I have been bashed, threatened, and, as a result, [I am] in hiding for my trouble. ''This ordeal has been terribly difficult for me, my family, and friends.'' Mr Moore said he had received no support from the Federal Government, the RAAF or any of the protection agencies. Plaintiff Lawyers Association president John Gordon demanded urgent protection for Mr Moore. ''Nathan and other whistleblowers in this country need to be safeguarded from violence, threats, and vicious campaigns designed to discredit them. ''Whistleblowers in this country are treated appallingly. ''If we are to encourage people in exposing illegal activity and corruption, it is of the utmost importance that they be afforded proper protection until their allegations can be independently investigated.'' The association said it had arranged for Mr Moore to be represented by a senior legal team if necessary. A defence spokesman said Mr Moore had not been part of the Australian Defence Force whistleblower protection scheme.

Copyright © 2003 The Federal Capital Press of Australia

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Австралийцы хотят отбирать паспорта у террористов
27.11 08:21 | MIGnews.com
Австралийское правительство намеревается провести дополнительные законы, предназначенные облегчить властям борьбу с террором.

Согласно новому законопроекту, у иностранных граждан, подозреваемых в причастности к террористической деятельности, могут быть конфискованы паспорта. Должен быть также увеличен вдвое срок пребывания под стражей не говорящих по-английски задержанных.

Последнюю меру правительство намерено предпринять после дела французского гражданина Вилье Вирджиля Бригитта, подозревавшегося в связях с "Аль-Каидой". Австралийским властям не хватило времени, чтобы допросить его как следует. Сейчас Бригитта допрашивают в Париже.

Согласно существующему законодательству, человека, содержащегося под стражей без предъявления обвинения, можно допрашивать три раза по восемь часов в течении недели. После того, как обвинение предъявлено, допрашивать можно шесть раз в неделю.

Генеральный прокурор Австралии настаивает на рассмотрении законопроекта до того, как парламент уйдет на Рождественские каникулы. Чтобы законопроект был принят, правительству необходима поддержка парламентской оппозиции. Представители оппозиции в принципе выразили согласие поддержать данную инициативу.

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Австралия заботится о своей безопасности
28.11 09:18 | MIGnews.com
В свете возрастающей опасности терактов, правительство Австралии приняло решение об увеличении расходов на обеспечение безопасности своих посольств и дипломатических миссий во всем мире, заявил министр иностранных дел страны Александер Даунер.

Основное внимание в этой связи, будет уделено региону Юго-Восточной Азии и Ближнему Востоку. Как сообщает агентство АР, в течение ближайших 4 лет на нужды безопасности почти ста австралийских дипломатических представительств по всему миру будет выделено 50 миллионов долларов.

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Австралия оскорбила испанских теннисистов
28.11 15:57 | MIGnews.com
Оскобленными оказались их национальные чувства, когда на церемонии открытия финала Кубка Дэвиса музыканты исполнили… совсем не испанский гимн.

Госсекретарь Испании по делам спорта Хуан Антонио Гомес-Ангуло гневно отреагировал на этот промах. Австралийский джазовый трубач вдохновенно исполнил гимн Республиканской Испании - Himno de Riego, названный так в честь революционера XIX века и просуществовавший всего 8 лет, вплоть до победы франкистов в 1939 году.

Эту оплошность испанские зрители на трибунах встретили гневными криками и свистом. Но фарс зашел еще дальше, когда сеньор Гомес-Ангуло "должным образом" проинструктировал испанскую команду, и она не вышла на корт, выдвинув условие: матч не состоится до тех пор, пока оркестр не исполнит Marcha Real, гимн современной Испании.

И все же дело удалось уладить: к настоящему времени официальная церемония завершена, испанский флаг снят с флагштока теннисного корта и игра началась. Однако, сеньор Гомес-Ангуло потребовал, чтобы перед началом завтрашнего поединка – встречи пар – был проведена еще одна церемония с надлежащим музыкальным сопровождением.


Лучезарный колёс
Флаг спускают, а нe снимают. А фраза: все закончилось xорошо, испанский флаг был спущен и игра началась - просто шедевр. Просто интересно, чем они думают?

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
Террорист намеревался взорвать сиднейский ядерный реактор
04.12 01:44 | MIGnews.com
Французский гражданин Вилье Вирджил Бригитт, арестованный в Австралии по подозрению в причастности к террористической деятельности и высланный за тем во Францию, намеревался организовать теракт на ядерном реакторе в пригороде Сиднея.

Об этом сообщил австралийским властям другой подозреваемый, Ибрагим Кейта. По его словам, Бригитт рассказал ему о своих планах в ходе телефонного разговора.

Адвокат Бригитта утверждает, что его подзащитный не планировал терактов на территории Австралии. Напомним, что Бригитт подозревается также в соучастии в убийстве лидера афганского северного альянса Ахмеда Шаха Масуда.

В прошлом следствие установило, что убийцы Масуда имели французские фальшивые паспорта. Подозревают, что именно Бригитт обеспечил их этими документами.


Лучезарный колёс
Australia joins U.S. missile defence system
By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Australia has joined a controversial U.S.-led "Son of Star Wars" defence programme designed to shoot down ballistic missiles, strengthening military ties with its key ally despite a risk of Asian displeasure.

Announcing the decision on Thursday, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the shield system would deter rogue states from acquiring missile technology, but he gave no details of possible costs or how Australia would participate.

"This is a strategic decision to put in place a long-term measure to counter potential threats to Australia's security and its interests from ballistic missile proliferation," Downer told parliament, adding Britain and Japan supported the programme.

While he did not mention North Korea by name, the communist state has a nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missiles capable of hitting U.S.-ally Japan. North Korea is also a major exporter of missiles and technology.

Australia's left-leaning Democrats and Greens parties strongly objected to Australia's involvement in a project with unproven technology, saying it could trigger an arms race.

"It is a mistake to spend billions of dollars developing technology that may never work and will just encourage others to create new weapons," said Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett.

The Bush administration has earmarked $50 billion over five years to build a missile defence with an initial, rudimentary, capability to shoot down incoming warheads by next September.

The multi-layered system is still under development and could include interceptor rockets to smash into a missile soon after take-off, high-powered lasers and ship-based anti-missile rockets.

Critics say it would be years, if not decades, before a reliable shield could be built and cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming decades.

A Japanese newspaper said on Thursday Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi planned to introduce a missile defence system to protect Japan from North Korea, which fired a ballistic missile over Japan in 1998. Koizumi denied any decision had been made but said the issue must be tackled soon.

Some defence experts view Australia as an essential component in the missile defence system. Australia already hosts small but important U.S. security operations, notably the remote Pine Gap base that receives information collected by eavesdropping satellites.


But Canberra's move to join the system -- as well as the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter project to build an advanced fighter-bomber -- could irk Asian neighbours who already accuse Canberra of playing "deputy sheriff" for Washington in the region.

Downer said it would strengthen military ties with the United States that his conservative government has bolstered since coming to power in 1996.

Analysts said joining the programme added "another layer of intimacy" to the U.S./Australia relationship that would not go down well in the region.

"It is dangerous in as much as it seems that when the United States acts, Australia follows by reflex," said foreign policy expert Michael McKinley from the Australian National University.

"It creates a sense that Australia is only reluctantly a part of the region in social and economic terms."

Downer, aware of regional sensitivities, said the government had already briefed some Asian nations of its involvement and would keep its regional partners informed of its participation.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said that under the programme, Australia could include expanded cooperation to detect missiles at launch, acquiring ship or ground-based sensors, and research, but ruled out a ground-based missile defence system.

The U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer, said the programme could have commercial benefits by allowing Australian industry to participate in the development stages.

The original "Star Wars" initiative pioneered by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan never got off the ground and was seen as too costly and too ambitious.
Australia signs on to United States' missile defence program

CANBERRA, 04-12-03 (AP) _ Australia has agreed to participate in a U.S. program to build a defensive missile shield, the government announced Thursday.

"We believe that taking part in the U.S. program will serve our strategic interest, help us defend Australia and allow us to make an important contribution to global and regional security," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement.

Washington hopes to develop a shield against ballistic missiles, arguing "rogue states" like North Korea could soon have missiles to threaten the United States. It wants allies such as Britain and Australia involved in the project, particularly for the use of satellite-tracking stations in their countries.

Canada announced in May that it had entered formal talks with Washington about joining the program. It was not immediately clear what other countries, if any, have committed to playing a role.

Downer told Parliament that "several countries in unstable regions" are developing ballistic missiles that in some cases would have the ability to carry weapons of mass destruction.

Critics said the technology for such shields _ dubbed "Son of Star Wars" _ is complex, unreliable and expensive but worse, the plans could spark a new arms race.

Australia has been one of Washington's staunchest allies over the last several years, pledging troops to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and stating its relationship with the United States is central to its long-term interests.

Downer said the nature of Australia's participation "will depend on many factors, including our own strategic defence needs, regional considerations, industry capabilities and financial considerations."

Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill said Canberra will likely help in research for the multibillion-dollar project and has no plans for a ground-based missile-defence system on Australian soil.

It may incorporate a missile-defence system into three planned air-warfare destroyers for the Australian navy.

"We have given that careful consideration and we think that we can play a part, obviously a small part in terms of the massive overall program," Hill said.

"We think that with the proliferation of long-range missiles and trends towards proliferation of mass-destruction warheads, it is a sensible decision for Australia to take."
Australia to join missile defence shield

04 Dec 2003 (AFP) Australia's conservative government said on Thursday it would participate in the controversial US programme to develop a missile defence shield in a further strengthening of the two countries' military ties.

"We think that with the proliferation of long-range missiles and trends towards proliferation of mass destruction warheads, it is a sensible decision for Australia to take," said Defence Minister Robert Hill in announcing the move.

Only a small part in programme

Hill described the effort to develop a system capable of shooting ballistic missiles out of the sky as a "long" and "massive" programme in which Australia would play only a small part.

The cooperation will primarily involve scientific research, most likely in the area of radar sensors and the Australian-designed over-the-horizon system known as the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN), he said.

"They looked at our capabilities and were impressed with JORN and said that there was within the JORN system capabilities that could assist with missile defence," Hill said.

Washington's "deputy sheriff"

Hill said there were no current plans to host part of a ground-based missile defence system on Australian territory — a move that would rile neighbouring countries already worried at Canberra's perceived role as Washington's "deputy sheriff" in the region.

But a top secret US electronic listening post based at Pine Gap in the central Australian desert could be a link in the global missile shield.

Australia under Prime Minister John Howard has been one of the staunchest foreign allies of US President George W. Bush and was the only country besides Britain to send forces into the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Australia has also joined up with the US project to develop a new generation warplane, the Joint Strike Fighter.

Strong criticism for Bush plan

Bush's plan to develop a general missile defence shield to counter possible attack by rogue states like North Korea led the United States to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty last year and has come under strong criticism at home and abroad.

Washington hopes to begin deploying a limited defence system next year. Opponents say the scheme will be too costly, is technically unfeasible and will be likely to spark a new global arms race.

China has been one of the leading foreign critics of the plan, and Hill said Australia had already informed Beijing and other Asian neighbours of its decision to participate.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament the proliferation of long-range missiles could be a future threat to Australia's interests, but stressed that the US-led programme was a defensive move.

"I want to make this perfectly clear — missile defence systems are purely defensive. This is not an offensive system," he said.

"It seeks to protect the territory and forces of the United States and its allies from ballistic missile attack and it will help deter rogue states from acquiring ballistic missile technology," he said.

Growing concern over North Korea

US Ambassador Tom Schieffer hailed Australia's decision and placed it in the context of growing concern over North Korea's missile programme.

"I think it a very important, very strategic thing that the Australians have done today," he said on Sky Television.

"This recent series of crises and meetings that have occurred as a result of the North Koreans just brought home to everybody that missile technology really is a defensive system that can be of benefit against rogue states," he said.
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