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Wednesday, 15 May 1985
Page: 1985

Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday Senator Sir John Carrick asked me a question about Soviet defensive actions. I have sought and received the following further answer from the Minister for Defence: The United States strategic defence initiative is a Department of Defense long term research program which intends to explore the technology options available for incorporation into a possible system of ballistic missile defence.

The Soviets are conducting similar research programs. These include directed energy weapons developments and improvements to the anti-ballistic missile system. It is also correct that the Soviets are continuing a major upgrading of their ballistic missile defence capabilities around Moscow. I should add, however, that the ABM system around Moscow, including the new Pushkino phased array radar, is within the limits established by the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty.

This Government views with concern any developments that could affect the present system of global deterrence and progress on arms control. While ethical arguments were first put forward to support the SDI concept it could well be argued that progress towards disarmament is even more ethical than a defensive system. Suffice to say that at present we see contradictions and problems inherent in the SDI concept. Australia has made clear that it does not endorse SDI or its Soviet counterpart.