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James Carafano: START Limits Comprehensive Missile Defense

In a web memo published last month at Heritage, James Carafano responded to Vice President Joe Biden’s Wall Street Journal article in which he asserts that our current missile defense plans are more than adequate. Our missile defense should be comprehensive, and Carafano said START would limit our ability to do that. An excerpt:

From Defending the West to Modest Protection for Europe

“Upon entering office, President Obama slashed the number of land-based interceptors planned to protect the U.S. homeland from North Korean and Iranian ballistic missiles by 44 percent. The cuts included scrapping the ‘third site’ ballistic missile defense plan to defend the United States and U.S. allies against the threat of long- and medium-range ballistic missiles from Iran. These installations were to be completed by 2013. In its stead the White House elected to focus on more limited regional missile defense.

“In conjunction with a plan approved by NATO at the recent Lisbon summit, Obama has sketched out what the Administration hopes will lead to the development of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (a U.S., German, and Italian joint program), and the U.S. Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe.

“Obama dubbed his ‘new’ plan for Europe the Phased Adaptive Approach. The four-phase program is intended to be the cornerstone of NATO’s ballistic missile defense initiative. Under Phase I (which the White House hopes to begin in 2011), U.S. Aegis ships with SM-3 interceptors will deploy to the Mediterranean with sea- and forward-based sensors stationed in southern Europe. In Phases II (2015), III (2018), and IV (2020) more interceptors will be deployed, both on Aegis ships and ground platforms.

“In his effort to cheerlead for New START, Vice President Biden neglected to mention the limitations of this approach. Even if the Obama plan is implemented on schedule and at cost (questionable assumptions), parts of Europe will remain vulnerable to long-range Iranian threats until 2020. The program also makes no specific, sustained investment to exploit the full range of sea-based and SM-3 technology. Furthermore, land-based SM-3 is a dramatically different capability from the current sea-based SM-3. It has yet to be flown. The Missile Defense Agency is already two years behind the deployment plans.”

Read the full web memo at Heritage.

At The Foundry, Owen Graham presents an alternative to START.

“The administration acts as if the choice is between New START or nothing,” Graham writes. “This assumption is fallacious. Some of the treaty’s supporters maintain that criticism of New START stems from partisanship alone and that critics are simply opposed to arms control. Such assumptions are also wrong. The problems with New START are substantive.”

An alternative path to START begins from a position of strength. For example, a START alternative would not be tied to nuclear disarmament. Our response to a rogue state developing a nuclear weapon shouldn’t be nuclear disarmament, considering the treaty “imposes no constraints on these countries.” Read Graham’s full post at The Foundry.

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