According to Australian press reports, joint U.S.-Australian intelligence base at Pine Gap undergoes expansion under a bilateral cooperation agreement between the two countries. Established in 1967, the Pine Gap facility was built to monitor Russian missile launches using American military satellites to accomplish the task. Apart from C.I.A. operatives, U.S. Air Force and Army personnel have been stationed at the base. In subsequent years, priorities at Pine Gap gradually shifted towards hi-tech surveillance of a wide range of targets in Asia. In 1998, a team of American code-breakers belonging to an agency known as Naval Security Group Command was allegedly established at Pine Gap with a task of monitoring foreign communications in the region. The base at Pine Gap may soon acquire more significance if the U.S. administration moves towards the implementation of a national missile defence system as its facilities may likely become a part of the new program.

Henry L. Marconi Pravda.Ru Sydney, Australia

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