NATO Missile Defense
Sources report that NATO allies may be close to agreeing to expand missile shields in Europe. On Friday, members will meet at a two-day summit to vote on the issue and to discuss related matters.
Among other things, NATO seeks Russia’s cooperation in expanding missile defense in Europe. Russia strongly disapproved of Bush-era plans to deploy missiles shields to Poland and the Czech Republic. President Barack Obama scrapped those plans and said the new plan would entail shorter-range missiles.
“The Obama administration canceled the original plan in September 2009, proposing instead a reconfigured missile shield that would begin with ship-based interceptors and radars, followed by more advanced land-based interceptors to be deployed in Romania by 2015 and Poland by 2018. This is to be the core U.S. contribution to NATO’s European missile defense system.
“The U.S. has asked Turkey, also a member of NATO, to host some of the radar defenses and to approve the proposal for a Europe-wide defense network. Turkey has hesitated, saying it does not want the system explicitly to target its neighbor, Iran.
“U.S. officials close to pre-summit talks were optimistic that the proposed European missile shield’s remaining obstacles could be overcome. They said Russia seems to be seriously considering NATO’s plan, while Turkey’s concerns could be finessed.”
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is optimistic about Russia’s cooperation. “I think we are witnessing a fresh start in the relationship between NATO and Russia, and maybe I could go further and say a fresh start in the relationship between Russia and the West. I think this is of huge strategic importance.” (Source)
Russia claimed Bush-era missile shield plans were a threat to its national security. It’s difficult to believe Russia would now approve the more widespread missile shield plan NATO proposes. Locations include countries like Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. The purpose of these shields is to defend against Iran, but Turkey said it won’t agree if NATO names Iran as a threat.