Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 04:06 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 04:06 | SYDNEY

Missile defence in the White Paper


Sam Roggeveen


7 May 2009 15:24

Both The Interpreter and the Sydney Morning Herald have noted a curious piece of wording about ballistic missile defence in the Defence White Paper. Para 9.103 says:

The Government is opposed to the development of a unilateral national missile defence system by any nation because such a system would be at odds with the maintenance of global nuclear deterrence. We would be especially concerned at developments that might undercut the deterrent value of the strategic nuclear forces of the major nuclear powers, and especially the viability of their second strike capabilities.

Hugh White is quoted in the SMH story as saying that '(w)e have not seen other evidence of the Rudd Government pursuing that kind of policy'. But there is a variation on the White Paper passage in the National Platform that the Labor Party took to the last election:

Labor is concerned that as a unilateral response to the problem of ballistic missile proliferation, national missile defence is disproportionate, technically questionable, costly and likely to be counterproductive. It also has the potential to undermine non-proliferation and derail world progress towards nuclear disarmament.

Given the Rudd Government's commitment to global nuclear disarmament (through the International Commission on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament), it's interesting that the White Paper doesn't echo this argument about national missile defence as a threat to progress on disarmament. Instead, the White Paper says missile defence threatens nuclear deterrence, which is the very institution Rudd is committed to abolishing through his Commission.