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Tough Talk on Missile Defense

June 18th, 2010

The Obama administration is talking tough on missile defense. Michele Flournoy, under secretary of Defense for Policy, and Ashton Carter, under secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, published a piece in the Wall Street Journal, in which they stress the importance of a strong and effective missile defense program. An excerpt:

“To counter Iran’s ballistic missile program, President Obama announced a phased adaptive approach for European missile defense last September—a move unanimously welcomed by our NATO allies. The first phase begins next year with the deployment of radars and ship-based systems in southern Europe. Romania and Poland have agreed to host land-based defenses for the second and third phases.

“A similar phased adaptive approach is being applied to missile defenses in the Middle East and East Asia. While the details of the deployments and host-country arrangements will differ by region, the common thread is significant improvement in ballistic missile defense capabilities, meant to protect our deployed forces overseas and our allies and partners.”

That’s all well and good, but the Obama administration has downplayed the need for long-range missile defense. Last month, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that Iran may have the capability to hit the U.S. with an intercontinental ballistic missile, with North Korea’s help, as early as 2015. In 2020, the U.S. will have a Europe-based second shot capability to defend against Iran’s ICBM. Consequently, there will be a five-year protection gap against Iran’s ICBM. Our current plan for homeland defense are interceptors in California and Alaska

“We are also making continued progress in improving our ability to defend the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attack,” Flournoy and Carter write. “By the fall, the U.S. will have 30 deployed ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, with eight more missile defense silos near completion.”

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.

Secretary Hillary Clinton on Romanian Missile Defense

June 2nd, 2010

In February, Romania announced its willingness to host U.S. SM-3 missile interceptors as part of President Barack Obama’s new missile defense plan. These missiles will be in place to defend against attacks from Iran, but once again, Russia believes their purpose is offensive.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. broke its promise to keep the Kremlin abreast of its missile defense developments in the region, and NATO representative Dmitri Rogozin asked, “How can we stay calm when alien military infrastructure, U.S. military infrastructure, has come to the Black Sea area?” (Source)

The missile interceptors will be deployed to Romania by 2015.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently held a press conference with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi to mark the 130th anniversary of diplomacy between Romania and the U.S. An excerpt of her remarks (emphasis added):

“The United States and Romania are also allies through NATO, and our shared commitment to the mutual defense of the alliance is unwavering. We are very pleased Romania has agreed to host elements of the phased adaptive approach to missile defense in Europe as we pursue this shared goal. This decision highlights the seriousness with which Romania approaches its role in NATO and its commitment to enhancing global security. Romanian troops have served their country with honor and distinction around the world, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are helping to move those countries toward a future of peace and stability. We mourn and grieve with the people of Romania over the losses that your nation has sustained, Mr. Minister, in this cause, but we thank you for your ongoing, stalwart commitment.”

Dmitry Medvedev on START Negotiations

March 2nd, 2010


Yesterday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country and the U.S. are “close to an agreement” on renewing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and that he hopes negotiations will be wrapped up “in the very near future.” (Source)

Under the treaty, signed by Russia and the U.S. in 1991, both countries agreed to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and delivery vehicles to 1,600. Eleven years later, the Moscow Treaty, a follow-up to START, required warhead reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200. According to Reuters, Medvedev and President Barack Obama have stipulated in present negotiations to a reduction of deployed warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675.

Russia has blamed stalled negotiations on U.S. plans to deploy missile shields to Eastern and Central Europe. Obama dropped Bush-era missile defense agreements in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of what he considers a more pressing concern: Iran’s short- and medium-range missiles. In January, Poland’s defense minister revealed U.S. plans to deploy Patriot missiles to Poland near the Russian border. In response, Russia said it would beef up its Baltic fleet. Last month, Romania agreed to host missile interceptors (Standard Missile 3).

Our intent is to help these countries defend against Iran, but Russia believes otherwise. After Romania announced the agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. broke its promise to keep the Kremlin abreast of its missile defense developments in the region, and Russian NATO representative Dmitri Rogozin asked, “How can we stay calm when alien military infrastructure, U.S. military infrastructure, has come to the Black Sea area?”

We’re not as hopeful as Dmitry Medvedev when it comes to renewing START. Russia will continue stalling in an attempt to pressure the U.S. to scale back or even cancel plans to deploy missile defense shields to Eastern and Central Europe.

Romania to Host U.S. Missile Interceptors

February 9th, 2010

Romania

Last week, Romania agreed to host missile interceptors (Standard Missile 3) as part of the president’s new missile defense plan. These missiles will be in place to defend against attacks from Iran, but once again, Russia believes their purpose is offensive. (UPI)

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. broke its promise to keep the Kremlin abreast of its missile defense developments in the region, and NATO representative Dmitri Rogozin asked, “How can we stay calm when alien military infrastructure, U.S. military infrastructure, has come to the Black Sea area?”

How will our missile defense plans in Romania affect negotiations for the START renewal? “It is impossible to talk seriously about a reduction of nuclear capabilities when a nuclear power is working to deploy defensive systems against nuclear warheads possessed by other countries,” Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

The missile interceptors will be deployed to Romania by 2015. Obviously, these and other developments will impact START negotiations, giving Russia an excuse to stall. Earlier this month, Poland announced that the U.S. will deploy Patriot missiles to Poland near the Russian border. In response, the former Soviet Union announced it would beef up its Baltic fleet. Signed in November, the deal between the U.S. and Poland also sends about 100 U.S. troops to Poland.

(Source for all quotes: UPI)