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Peter Brookes on START Negotiating Record UPDATES

July 6th, 2010

Peter Brookes

The Heritage Foundation‘s Peter Brookes wrote an op-ed for the Boston Herald about START discussions in the U.S. Senate. Several Heritage experts have suggested that senators request the negotiating record between Russia and the U.S. before ratifying the treaty.

“The Obama administration is urging the Senate to ratify the U.S.-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, but it won’t release the negotiating record for ‘New START’  to senators.

Denying the Senate’s requests raises suspicions about the treaty, which would reduce the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal by 30 percent and cut our missile silos, bombers and submarines by nearly 20 percent…Is there something in the blow-by-blow transcript of the talks with the Russians that the White House doesn’t want senators to see?”

One concern is whether President Barack Obama compromised our country’s security in exchange for Russia agreeing to additional sanctions against Iran. The president and his advisers have said START doesn’t limit our missile defense, but the president’s track record on missile defense doesn’t instill confidence.

“President Barack Obama & Co. have cut budgets of many missile-defense programs and put the kibosh early in their tenure on the Bush-era missile-defense system planned for Poland and the Czech Republic, aimed at Iran’s nuclear/missile programs. (It’s widely believed they deep-sixed the Polish-Czech program as a sop to the Russians in their near-incessant efforts to “reset” relations.)

“Then there’s the treaty preamble that acknowledges ‘the link between strategic offensive and strategic defensive armaments.’ This language, experts say, might limit American missile-defense. And, while the administration says the preamble isn’t part of the treaty, Moscow said on the day of the signing this spring that it will withdraw from the pact if U.S. missile defense is expanded or improved.”

Read the full article at the Boston Herald.

Update: Download a PDF copy of a letter signed by 11 U.S. senators requesting the administration to make certain witnesses available.

Mitt Romney: START Could Be Obama’s Worst Foreign Policy Mistake

July 6th, 2010

Mitt Romney

Former Governor Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post. He was some tough words for the president.

“Given President Obama’s glaring domestic policy missteps, it is understandable that the public has largely been blinded to his foreign policy failings…He castigated Israel at the United Nations but was silent about Hamas having launched 7,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip. His policy of ‘engagement’ with rogue nations has been met with North Korean nuclear tests, missile launches and the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, while Iran has accelerated its nuclear program, funded terrorists and armed Hezbollah with long-range missiles. He acceded to Russia’s No. 1 foreign policy objective, the abandonment of our Europe-based missile defense program, and obtained nothing whatsoever in return.

“Despite all of this, the president’s New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New-START) with Russia could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet. The treaty as submitted to the Senate should not be ratified.”

Like other proponents of strong and comprehensive missile defense, Romney believes START limits our missile strategy, despite the administration’s assurances to the contrary.

“Its preamble links strategic defense with strategic arsenal. It explicitly forbids the United States from converting intercontinental ballistic missile silos into missile defense sites. And Russia has expressly reserved the right to walk away from the treaty if it believes that the United States has significantly increased its missile defense capability.

“Hence, to preserve the treaty’s restrictions on Russia, America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile defense expansion. Moscow’s vehemence over our modest plans in Eastern Europe demonstrate that such permission would be extremely unlikely.”

Why did President Obama caved to an agreement that benefits mostly Russia? Why is the reasoning behind restricting the defense of our homeland?

“The treaty also gives far more to the Russians than to the United States. As drafted, it lets Russia escape the limit on its number of strategic nuclear warheads. Loopholes and lapses — presumably carefully crafted by Moscow — provide a path to entirely avoid the advertised warhead-reduction targets. For example, rail-based ICBMs and launchers are not mentioned. Similarly, multiple nuclear warheads that are mounted on bombers are effectively not counted. Unlike past treaty restrictions, ICBMs are not prohibited from bombers. This means that Russia is free to mount a nearly unlimited number of ICBMs on bombers — including MIRVs (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) or multiple warheads — without tripping the treaty’s limits. These omissions would be consistent with Russia’s plans for a new heavy bomber and reports of growing interest in rail-mobile ICBMs.”

Read the full article at the Washington Post.

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.

Will Russia Deliver Those S-300s?

June 17th, 2010

Some sources report that Russia’s deal to deliver S-300 missiles to Iran is not affected by the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions against Iran, while others say it is. Regardless, the former Soviet Union has yet to deliver the missiles to the rogue state. Despite U.N. Security Council sanctions, Iran hasn’t skipped a beat in the hubris department. An excerpt:

“‘The S-300 is absolutely necessary for Iran,’ Mustafa Alani, a regional security expert from the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, said in a telephone interview today. ‘They are very disappointed as they have a huge gap in their air defense and this would solve a big part of it.’

“The S-300′s latest model is able to hit targets from a range of 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) to 200 kilometers and at a height of 100 meters to 27 kilometers, according to its manufacturer, OAO Air Defense Concern Almaz-Antei.”

After denying the deal and calling Iran unstable, Russia eventually admitted to selling Iran S-300s. In February, U.N. Security Council deputy secretary Vladimir Nazarov said, “There is a signed contract…which we must implement, but deliveries have not started yet. This deal is not restricted by any international sanctions, because the talk is about deliveries of an exclusively defensive weapon.” (Source)

NPR Calls Iran Sanctions ‘Enfeebled’

June 10th, 2010

The U.S. has been pushing Russia to agree to additional sanctions against Iran for its defiance of the United Nations Security Council’s demands for full disclosure of its nuclear program and suspension of uranium enrichment. Russia finally agreed. The new sanctions include inspecting Iranian ships suspected of carrying nuclear technology or weapons, but we doubt this will be enough.

Today, the U.N. Security Council voted for additional sanctions against the rogue state. From NPR:

“The Obama administration is doing its best to put a good face on a major disappointment: After sixteen months’ effort, they have succeeded in delivering less international support than did the Bush administration for a problem everyone agrees is growing rapidly worse.”

One restriction included in the sanctions is countries are prohibited from selling missiles or missile systems to Iran. To get Russia to agree to the sanctions, however, the council exempted Russia from the restrictions. The former Soviet Union can proceed with its agreement to deliver S-300 missiles to Iran, and Iran’s Bushehr reactor will come on line with Russia’s help.

“All this in addition to canceling NATO missile defense deployments and going silent on the strangulation of freedoms within Russia.”

NPR called the sanctions “enfeebled,” and said the U.S. has basically sold out to “reset” relations with Russia. In addition to a ban on missile defense activities, Iran must submit to cargo inspections, and other countries must seize and dispose of banned items, refrain from providing “critical support services” to ships suspected of carrying banned items, and block proliferation finance.

(Image source: TopNews.in)

Patriot Missile, Israeli Cooperative Programs Get Funding Boost

June 10th, 2010

The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance reports that Patriot missile defense system ($133.6 million for upgrades) and Israeli Cooperative Programs ($230 million) received additional funding in the FY 2001 missile defense bill. Total missile defense spending in FY 2011 is $10.3 billion.

The Senate Armed Services Committee added “sense of Congress” statements that include support for the U.S. and NATO to cooperate with Russia to contain Iran; that the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system “provides adequate defensive capability” against Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missiles; and that the new START doesn’t constrain U.S. missile development or deployment.

Politico notes that Congress could increase scrutiny of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The defense bill would require MDA to lay down a projected baseline for program costs, although MDA spokesman Richard Lehner said the agency has reported baselines to Congress since 2005. The implication is that the MDA lacks oversight.

Russia Agrees to Iran Sanctions

May 19th, 2010

After much hedging, Russia has agreed to additional sanctions against Iran for its defiance of the United Nations Security Council’s demands for full disclosure of its nuclear program and suspension of uranium enrichment. (Source)

“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said

Despite previous sanctions, Iran has continued its nuclear development. Several years ago, Iran admitted having a uranium enrichment plant. The U.S. and other countries suspected this plant wasn’t the only one. After some digging, the U.S. found evidence of construction of second site. As expected, Iran maintained its “peaceful” and “scientific purposes” stance.

The new sanctions include inspecting Iranian ships suspected of carrying nuclear technology or weapons, but will this be enough? The New York Times notes that previous Bush-era sanctions were not successful. Former political adviser to Israel and author Joel Rosenberg calls the sanctions “toothless” and “lame.” Citing the same New York Times story, he wrote:

“The bad news: the world’s major powers have mostly caved. The resolution abandons any hope for the ‘crippling sanctions’ President Obama and Secretary Clinton once vowed to impose. Instead, we’re about to see another round of lame, toothless sanctions even as Tehran continues building the Bomb, prepares to annihilate the U.S. and Israel, and prepares for the arrival of the Twelfth Imam and the end of the world.”

Iran’s vice-president Ali Akbar Salehi balked at the proposed sanctions. He said they “won’t prevail and by pursuing the passing of a new resolution they are discrediting themselves in public opinion.” (Source)

Experts Say START Falls Short

May 11th, 2010

Robert Joseph, a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy and former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and Eric Edelman, a distinguished fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and former undersecretary of defense for policy, co-wrote an article for National Review Online about the new START.

They pose questions the Senate should ask when considering the treaty’s ratification and discuss whether it weakens America’s security. The authors believe it does.

“In particular, the Senate must examine a number of central questions raised by New START and the NPR. Do the contemplated actions put the country on the right path to deal with the most serious and pressing threats the nation faces? Does New START meet the standards for improving predictability and strategic stability that were used to measure earlier treaties? How real are the reductions being proposed? Will New START lead, as the administration has suggested, to Russia and others working more closely with the U.S. to produce “crippling” sanctions on Iran? Most important, will the treaty and NPR allow for the necessary modernization of our nuclear stockpile and for the capabilities we need, such as robust missile defense and conventional, prompt global strike?

“Despite claims by the administration that the treaty will reduce by 30 percent the number of nuclear warheads each side is permitted to deploy (from 2,200 to 1,550, a net reduction of 650), the numbers are really smaller, since both the U.S. and Russia were moving towards force levels significantly lower than those permitted under the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty negotiated by President Bush, which reduced the levels by almost 4,000 warheads. Moreover, some of the claimed reduction is an artifact of a revised counting rule. In fact, because a bomber will now be counted as one warhead no matter how many bombs or cruise missiles it carries, the agreement may be the first of its kind to permit an actual increase in fielded warhead levels. Furthermore, as some analysts have suggested, the treaty may contain a startling loophole, large enough to drive a train through, which would not count ICBM launchers on rail-mobile platforms. Given past and present Russian interest in such forces, the Senate must certainly determine whether such a gap exists and, if it does, fix it.”

The former Soviet Union appears to be using START as leverage against the U.S. Reducing weapons is a riskier proposition for us, and less so for Russia. Given the arms deal between Russia and Iran, and Russia’s refusal to stand for tougher sanctions against Iran, it’s strange that we’ve allowed ourselves to give up so much while our former Cold War adversary gives up so little.

Joseph and Edelman urge the Senate to carefully examine the treaty and to ask the right questions. Signing the treaty was only the beginning. The Senate must keep security of the homeland a top priority and consider START’s short-term and long-term consequences.

Club-K Container Missile System Update

May 11th, 2010

Back in February, we embedded a video about the Club-K Container Missile System. Designated for hitting surface and land targets, the Club-K System can be installed in a variety of areas: coastal positions, surface ships, railway, and automobile platforms.

The earlier video showed how a container is lifted and transported. The video below, released by a Russian company, shows the system in action, from transportation to launch. From the back of a big rig, the container opens and launches missiles headed to targets in three different locations: two aircraft carriers, tanks, and a military installation. Watch below:

Intelligence analyst Ryan Mauro correctly notes that the mobile Club-K can be used by a weaker nation against a more powerful one. Trucks and trains become innocuous-looking launching stations.

“The West normally relies upon advanced surveillance to detect and monitor such pads so that prior notice of a launch can be achieved,” Mauro writes at FrontPageMag.com, “allowing for the site to be destroyed before the missile takes off or the missile to be intercepted. This warning allows for preparations for impact to be undertaken and retaliatory measures to be evaluated. By concealing and launching the missiles from cargo containers, there is absolutely minimal time to react, as effective surveillance would require following every truck, train or ship.”

Will Russia, which sold S-300 missiles to rogue state Iran, sell the Club-K Container Missile System as well?

Israel and Missile Defense

May 5th, 2010

Israel and NATO seek to work together on missile defense. Though not a member of NATO, Israel would collaborate with the organization to address the Iranian threat.

“We have already been provided some information about the Israeli test-bed,” NATO’s Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense Program Office Alan Berry said. “We are happy to discuss things with Israel about our capabilities, and we are looking forward to future discussions in that area.” (Source)

Last year, Iran test-fired the long-range Sajjil-2 missile, capable of reaching Israel and Southern Europe. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) have a longer range than the Sajjil, and Iran may have ICBM capabilities in five years. Israel increased production of its Arrow missile interceptors “significantly.” (Source) Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “We will need to expand our arsenal of Arrow interceptors” which are capable of intercepting Iranian, Syrian Shihab, and Scud missiles. Israel’s air force also is upgrading existing Arrow interceptors to the new Arrow II missile system.

Around the same time, Israel reported intercepting a ship that left Iran bound for Hezbollah carrying missiles, rockets, anti-tank weapons.

Israel and the U.S. conducted a joint missile defense exercise that simulated a response to an attack by the Islamic Republic, Syria, and Hezbollah. Among the systems tested were the Arrow II, THAAD, Aegis, and PAC-3. The Iron Dome is an anti-rocket shield designed to defend Israel from Hamas and Hezbollah rockets. The U.S. and Israel are working together to develop the Arrow III system to destroy multiple-warhead missiles and decoys.