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6 Nov, 2008 03:57

British MPs call for debate on U.S. missile shield

A growing number of European politicians are voicing fears over the U.S. deployment of a missile shield all across the continent. More than 50 British MPs have called for a public debate into an issue which many fear could result in a new global arms race

The British government has already given permission for two bases on British territory, but now more than 70 senior Labour Party figures, including over 50 MPs, are questioning the wisdom of the move.

They took action after a new poll showed almost two thirds of people asked about the system said it would make the country less secure.

The latest opinion poll shows an increasing number in Britain oppose the project, with 61% against it compared to 54% last year.

The Americans say they need the bases to protect themselves against so called rogue states, such as Iran and, previously, North Korea. But after the US engaged North Korea it stopped being such a concern for them.

As well as the UK bases, America has also agreed deals for similar sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. 

But the longest serving MP in the House of Commons, Tam Dalyell, says it is an unnecessary scheme.

“I think that the intensions of the Russians are anti-war and I don’t think Russia has any desire to attack Europe or the UK,” Dalyell said.

The statement by Britain's Labour MPs follows a similar notice issued by Labour's equivalent parties in Poland and the Czech Republic, with two thirds of the Czech population strongly opposing the deployment of the radar on their territory.

The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament, Miloslav Vlcek, said:

“When the US Secretary of State was here to sign the deal on the radar, I wanted to inform her about the real state of affairs in the Czech parliament and about the views of the majority of Czech people, that around 70% of our population are against the radar here, but I was not given such an opportunity.”