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DATE=7/7/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=VANDENBERG MISSILE PROTEST (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-264173 BYLINE=MIKE O'SULLIVAN DATELINE=LOS ANGELES INTERNET=YES CONTENT= Voiced At: Intro: In California, protesters are trying to stop the scheduled test of a missile defense system Friday evening. The environmental group Greenpeace has stationed a ship offshore, where part of the test missile is expected to splash down. Mike O'Sullivan reports protesters also say they have entered the launch site, a claim that Air Force officials reject as unlikely. Text: A spokesman for Vandenberg Air Force Base says weather conditions look good for the launch of a dummy warhead aboard a Minuteman-two missile. Twenty minutes later, a so-called "kill vehicle" will be launched atop another missile from a remote point in the Marshall Islands. If all goes well, the two will collide high in space. Protester Carole Gregory, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, says the organization is trying to block the test with both on-shore and off-shore protests. /// GREGORY ACT /// We've been a very strong presence at front gate of the Vandenberg Air Force Base, and in addition to that, our campaign ship - the N-V Arctic Sunrise - has entered the hazard zone near Vandenberg Air Force Base. We also have activists on foot who have entered the base itself near the launch pad where the blast-off is scheduled for 7:01 this evening. /// END ACT /// A spokesman for Vandenberg Air Force Base, Major John Cherry, disputes the claim that protesters have breached security, which he says has been intensified for the missile test. /// CHERRY ACT /// It is highly unlikely during our current threat condition that they could be on the base and not be detected. Our security forces are on high- alert, and the base is currently under threat condition Bravo, which is the second of four tiers of increased vigilance for the base. // END ACT /// The Air Force spokesman says the security level may be increased as launch time approaches. The launch must take place in a four-hour window between 7:01 and 11:01 Friday evening. Protesters say the presence offshore of 23 Greenpeace members in a Dutch-registered ice-breaker may also stop the test because a booster from the Vandenberg rocket will fall somewhere in its vicinity, 180- kilometers offshore. Air Force spokesman John Cherry says the presence of the ship could delay the launch, but that is unlikely. /// REST OPT /// /// SECOND CHERRY ACT /// Even if a vessel is in the area, what we call the safety box, it's highly unlikely they're in any danger at all from any falling debris from a nominal (successful) launch. That is something that the space lift commander will take into consideration during the countdown tonight before he makes a final go/no-go decision for launch. /// END ACT /// This is the third of 19 scheduled tests of the National Missile Defense system. The first test, last October, was successful. The second, in January, failed because of a malfunctioning sensor. If the missile from Vandenberg Air Base successfully hits its target, the impact at an altitude of 230 kilometers should completely destroy the test missile and the interceptor. (Signed) NEB/MO/ENE/JBM 07-Jul-2000 14:18 PM EDT (07-Jul-2000 1818 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .