Thatcher's ballistic warning

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The Independent Online
BARONESS Thatcher presented herself as the true heir of Sir Winston Churchill yesterday with a remake of his "Iron Curtain" speech of 50 years ago.

In an address at the same spot - Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri - she derided the idea of a European "defence identity" and called for a new global anti-ballistic missile system in breach of existing arms treaties.

Her apocalyptic tour d'horizon identified the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as "the single most awesome threat of modern times".

Lady Thatcher proposed a new ballistic system - banned under a 1972 US- Soviet treaty - to counter the danger of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons falling into the hands of nations led by "megalomaniacs of proven inhumanity". She claimed: "In some instances, the potential capabilities at the command of these unpredictable figures is [sic] either equal to - or even more destructive than - the Soviet threat to the West in the 1960s."

American estimates suggested that the end of the decade could see more than 20 nations with ballistic missiles, nine with nuclear weapons, 10 with biolgical weapons and up to 30 with chemical weapons.

"Once they are available in the Middle East and North Africa, all the capitals of Europe will be in target range, and on present trends a direct threat to American shores is likely to mature early in the century," she said.

"The West must install effective ballistic defence which would protect us and our armed forces, reduce or even nullify the rogue state's arsenal, and enable us to retaliate," Lady Thatcher urged in her speech.