Aussies Withdraw Plan to Aid MX Missile Tests
The United States bowed to Australian public opinion today and announced it will conduct tests of its controversial MX missile without using Australian support facilities.
Secretary of State George P. Shultz made the announcement after a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
It was the second jolt this week to the three-way ANZUS alliance composed of Australia, New Zealand and the United States. On Tuesday, Washington angrily called off a joint military exercise after New Zealand, citing its anti-nuclear policies, refused to let the U.S. destroyer Buchanan dock there during maneuvers. (Story on Page 7.)
News reports in Sydney, Australia, said Hawke had decided without advance consultation with U.S. officials to withdraw a four-day-old offer to let U.S. monitoring aircraft use Australian facilities during MX missile tests.
Hawke, appearing with Shultz in the State Department lobby, denied that the MX decision will have any impact on the ANZUS mutual defense treaty.
But Shultz said Hawke had “raised the community concerns in Australia” about his government’s decision to provide refueling and food facilities for U.S. planes monitoring splash-down tests of the MX missile in the Gulf of Tasman, between Australia and New Zealand, in international waters.
“The U.S. side brought out that there are a variety of ways to monitor an MX test and the monitoring effort need not involve the provision of Australian support. A decision has been made by the United States to conduct the MX tests without the use of Australian support arrangements,” Shultz said.
Hawke said that while he expressed Australian concerns about providing support facilities for the MX tests, the Reagan Administration had already made its decision to monitor the test in another fashion.