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Raytheon in "Star Wars" deal

One of the dubious fruits of the peace process has been the increasing militarisation of the Irish economy.  Nowhere has this sparked more controversy than Derry, where missile manufacturer Raytheon located two years ago.  Welcomed with open arms by David Trimble and John Hume, and showered with millions in sate grants, it's arrival was hailed as major boost to the local economy.  The fact that Raytheon  was a major weapons manufacturer was not mentioned.  When it was raised by human rights campaigners, assurances were made by local politicians that the Derry plant would only be involved in civil projects such as air traffic control.  This omitted the fact that one of the main reasons Raytheon located there was the guarantee of a MOD contract.  Only a few months ago, Sinn Fein Lord Mayor, Cathal Crumley toured the plant and announced that he was satisfied no military production was being carried out there. Such pronouncements either demonstrate the complete ignorance of these  politicians or their unashamed deceitfulness.

Whatever the case, Raytheon's latest project will be more difficult to ignore or explain  away.  For the company is in line to land a $60bn contract to supply critical elements of US President George Bush's proposed missile defence programme.  Dubbed the 'Son of Star Wars', this programme risks igniting a new nuclear arms race.   Raytheon's contribution to the defence shield, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), is supposed to intercept incoming missiles.  Of course this system is not likely to work.  Preliminary tests have already proved to a complete failure.  This is because the missile defence shield is primarily about giving billions of public money to the defence industry, not stopping 'rogue' missiles landing on the US.  Defence companies, Raytheon among them, were big donors to Bush's presidential campaign fund.  Now they are getting their pay back.

In the US fifty Nobel peace prize winners have signed a petition against the project, which they claim breaches international arms control agreements. Asked for a statement from Derry's own Nobel Laureate, John Hume, an SDLP spokesperson said he " was not aware of any connection between the US project and Raytheon in Derry" and did not wish to comment.  Raytheon spokesperson Jackie Berger was not so coy.  He told the Boston Globe that - "we may do defence work (at the Derry plant). In all likelihood we will. We are, after all a defence company."



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