When Russia and the U.S. were negotiating to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), it was widely reported that negotiations were stalled over our missile defense plans in Europe. When the two countries reached an agreement last week, missile defense supporters wondered exactly what President Barack Obama gave up in terms of missile defense shields.
Both countries agreed to reduce long-range missiles by 30 percent. The U.S. and Russia will reduce deployed warheads to between 1,550, and limit intercontinental ballistic missiles to 700.
Negotiations were also stalled over linking offensive missile strategy with missile defense. The U.S. reportedly agreed to the link, and Ellen Tauscher, the undersecretary of state for arms control, assured critics that the treaty won’t constrain our missile defense programs.
Some sources are reporting otherwise. According to Bloomberg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said if “the U.S.’s build-up of its missile defense strategic potential in numbers and quality begins to considerably affect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces,” Russia will back out of the treaty.
Lavrov said that although missile defense plans in Romania and Bulgaria aren’t a threat to the former Soviet Union’s security, increasing missile defense development in the region might be seen as a threat.
“Ideally, we should begin to jointly analyze threats and only after we’ve done this can we reach a common understanding of these threats,” he said. “This would enable us to make decisions on what steps we need to take, including what facilities to build and where.”
Russia and the U.S. are scheduled to sign START on April 8.