Star Wars scheme triggers protest in city
By Matthew Taylor
Yorkshire Evening Post

May 5 2001

campaigners from around the world converged on Leeds today to protest against America’s controversial ‘Son of Star Wars’ missile system.

Activists from more than 15 countries attended a conference at the University of Leeds to raise concerns about the scheme which is likely to involve a huge expansion at both Menwith Hill spy base near Harrogate and the Fylingdales radar station on the North York Moors.

The plans were given a cautious welcome by Tony Blair this week, but protesters at a city centre rally in Leeds yesterday said the move would spark a new arms race and make Yorkshire a prime target in any nuclear war.

“This conference was in Washington last year but it is being held in Leeds because Yorkshire is crucial to America’s plans,” said Rachel Julian, from the anti-nuclear movement CND.

“The facilities in this region would need to be upgraded if this goes ahead and that means Yorkshire will be directly affected.”

Campaigners fear the proposed missile system – dubbed Son of Star Wars after plans drawn up by former US president Ronald Reagan – will spark a new nuclear arms race.

“Countries like Russia, China, Pakistan and India will be dragged into an arms race and the security of the whole world will be destabilised,” said Ms Julian.

Among the international protesters was US journalist Professor Karl Grossman who has been investigating the ‘nuclear space race’ for 15 years.

“This programme is called a National Missile Defence System but it is nothing of the sort,” said Mr Grossman, from New York.


“This is the first step in an offensive system designed to provide America with nuclear control over the world from missiles in space.

“This is clearly stated in US military documents and it is important people are aware of the implications of what America is planning – total military domination from space.”

The conference continues tomorrow when delegates will discuss the next step in their campaign.

Ms Julian said: “This is a fight that will go on and Yorkshire is going to be central. We are finding we have a lot of support from the public and with an election coming up this could well turn into a very important issue in the weeks ahead.”

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