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Protecting America in the New Missile Age


Russia Optimistic About Missile Shield

December 15th, 2010

At last month’s NATO summit, the former Soviet Union tentatively agreed to cooperate with NATO in expanding missile defense in Europe. Members approved the proposal to expand and link missile defense shield systems in the U.S. and Europe to protect against long-range missile attacks.

Because of rogue countries like Iran and North Korea, intent on building missiles, transitioning our relationship with Russia away from a strategy based on retaliation toward one based on defense is key. Ria Novosti reports that Russia’s NATO envoy is optimistic about his country working with the U.S. on missile shields in Europe. Dmitry Rogozin said Russia looked forward to a “real exchange of data and evaluations.”

Janusz Bugajski, director of the New European Democracies Project, doesn’t mince words when it comes to how he feels about current agreements between Russia and the U.S. In the Washington Times, he asserts that Dmitry Medevedev blackmailed NATO into acquiescing.

For the Kremlin, NATO remains a threat not because it destabilizes Russia but because it thwarts its imperial aspirations. President Dmitry Medvedev blackmails the alliance by asserting that NATO’s eastward growth would terminate all collaboration with the West. Despite lofty declarations at the recent Lisbon Summit, NATO growth has been stymied indefinitely along Poland’s eastern border.

Moscow also seeks veto powers over troop deployments among new NATO members. It wants NATO to commit to stationing a maximum of 3,000 soldiers; if reinforcements were needed during a crisis, NATO would require Russia’s consent. In effect, the alliance would depend on Moscow’s permission to intervene if Russia invaded a NATO member.

Moscow also has been invited to participate in NATO’s missile-defense program and exploits that opportunity to divide the continent. Mr. Medvedev has proposed that Europe be split into two sectors of “military responsibility” to protect it from missile attack – one controlled by NATO, the other by Russia, encompassing all ex-Soviet states. In this context, cooperation over Afghanistan, Iran and nuclear proliferation remains contingent upon Western strategic concessions acknowledging Russia’s zone of influence across Eurasia.

Although Russia agreed to cooperate with NATO, everything seems to hinge on whether START is ratified. The treaty limits strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads and delivery vehicles to 800. But for the Republicans retaking the U.S. House of Representatives, START might have been ratified by now. As it stands, passage this Congress is unlikely.

Russia Denies Missiles Near NATO Allies

November 30th, 2010

This morning we blogged about suspicions that Russia broke a 1991 pledge and moved short-range tactical nuclear warheads to areas near NATO allies (see the Wall Street Journal). As expected, the former Soviet Union has denied the charges.

Mikhail Margelov (pictured), head of the upper house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Bloomberg that his country has “relations of trust now with our American partners and don’t take any steps without informing our partners and consulting with them.” Russia’s Defense Ministry neither confirmed nor denied the report.

A defense analyst in Russia implied that the report was just a scheme to stop START ratification in the Senate (as if START’s many problems played no role!).

The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano weighed in on the tactical nuclear warheads report:

“More and more it looks like the Russians have played Obama like the Soviets played Jimmy Carter. Yet, it seems the President still does not get it. His top priority is still—ratification of New START. Meanwhile, the White House continues to live in La-La Land. Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, said Obama remains strong internationally.”

U.S. Suspects Russian Missiles Near NATO Allies

November 30th, 2010

Obama and Medvedev

President Barack Obama wants the U.S. Senate to ratify a treaty that reduces our arsenal and weakens our missile defense, no questions asked. While he’s busy avoiding answering Republican senators’ questions about START, Russia is doing what it does best: breaking promises.

Twenty years ago, Russia pledged to pull tactical nuclear warheads back from areas bordering NATO allies and to reduce these weapons. Although Russia threatened to deploy missiles to Kaliningrad (its territory near the Polish border) if the U.S. deployed missile shields to Poland and the Czech Republic, U.S. officials thought they’d talked Russia down from the threat.

Now the U.S. has reason to believe the former Soviet Union has moved short-range tactical nuclear warheads to areas near NATO allies, breaking its 1991 pledge to refrain from such activity. An excerpt from the Wall Street Journal:

“Russia’s movement of the ground-based tactical weapons appeared to coincide with the deployment of U.S. and NATO missile-defense installations in countries bordering Russia. Moscow has long considered the U.S. missile defense buildup in Europe a challenge to Russian power, underlining deep-seated mistrust between U.S. and Russian armed forces despite improved relations between political leaders.

“The Kremlin had no immediate comment.

“Republican critics in the Senate say it was a mistake for President Barack Obama to agree to the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, or New Start, without dealing with outstanding questions about Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons. New Start would cap the Russian and U.S. deployed strategic nuclear arsenals at 1,550 per side. It doesn’t address tactical weapons, which are smaller and for use on a battlefield.”

It’s safe to say senators already concerned that START weakens our missile defense will put up even more resistant to ratification, in light of these developments. Surely, Obama understands that the U.S. has agreed to protect allies, and Russia is a direct threat to those allies. Why would he want to push through a treaty that puts these allies in Russia’s crosshairs? More from the article:

“U.S. officials believe the most recent movements of Russian tactical nuclear weapons took place in late spring. In late May, a U.S. Patriot missile battery was deployed in northern Poland, close to Kaliningrad, sparking public protests from Moscow.

“Some officials said the movements are a concern but sought to play down the threat. Russian nuclear warheads are stored separately from their launching systems, U.S. officials say.

“In the fall of 1991, the U.S. had about 5,000 tactical nuclear weapons deployed overseas, most assigned to NATO, according to the Arms Control Association. The U.S. destroyed about 3,000 as a result of the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives. Today, the U.S. is believed to have some 1,100 tactical nuclear warheads, of which about 480 are nuclear gravity bombs stored in six European countries.”

If U.S. suspicions about Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons to NATO borders are true, our allies face a serious threat. For years the U.S. has addressed such threats in part by maintaining strategic nuclear forces. While START reduces strategic nuclear forces, it doesn’t even address tactical nuclear forces, thanks to Obama. The imbalance and lack of flexibility are obvious.

Our president trusts a country that can’t be trusted, and he asks our elected officials to trust him. Meanwhile, Russia gets the last smirk.

McNamara and Spring on Post-Summit Missile Defense

November 24th, 2010

The Heritage Foundation’s Sally McNamara and Baker Spring wrote about NATO’s summit, held last weekend in Lisbon, and what must happen with missile defense in light of the newly adopted Strategic Concept and Russia’s agreement to cooperate on missile defense. An excerpt from their web memo:

“The new Strategic Concept adopted by NATO at the Lisbon summit this weekend stated: ‘The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territory and our populations against attack, as set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.’[1] Accordingly, NATO has declared missile defense a core competency of the alliance. The 2010 Strategic Concept states that the Alliance will ‘develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defence, which contributes to the indivisible security of the Alliance.’[2]

“The development of a transatlantic-wide missile defense architecture will produce an effective defensive strategic posture for the alliance and marks a welcome step forward in terms of addressing the security challenges presented by the post–Cold War world. History will view it as a major milestone in moving the West away from the Cold War policy of maintaining deterrence primarily by the threat of nuclear retaliation for any strategic attack on members of the alliance and toward a policy putting in place defenses to protect its population and territory against such attack.”

With the post-Cold War threat of rogue states like Iran and North Korea, protecting allies is more important than ever. Expanding missile defense in Europe is vital, and McNamara and Baker contend that NATO should honor its June 2011 deadline to implement the plan.

The authors also contend that the former Soviet Union’s contradicts itself by agreeing to cooperate with NATO in expanding missile defense in Europe, while at the same time asserting that START limits U.S. missile defense and “by extension, NATO missile defense options. Russia has threatened to withdraw from START if the U.S. strengthens missile defense in Europe. Since the U.S. is part of NATO, and NATO approved a plan to expand missile defense, will Russia withdraw from START?

“If the Russian pledge to cooperate with the West in the area of missile defense is to have real meaning, the Russians will have to issue three policy statements in addition to accepting the programmatic guidelines listed above:

“1. That Russia no longer sees the development and deployment of robust missile defense capabilities as undermining the strategic balance and believes that moving toward defensive strategic postures will enhance stability in the post–Cold War world;

“2. That Russia accepts the fact that fielding missile defenses capable of countering missiles that are in the hands of third states both now and in the future will necessarily have some capability to counter Russian missiles; and

“3. That Russia understands that the new NATO missile defense policy is a legitimate part of the alliance’s inherent right to collective self-defense and not a threat to Russia.”

NATO, Russia, and START

November 23rd, 2010

Obama and Medvedev

Not only has NATO agreed to expand missile defense in Europe, the former Soviet Union has agreed to cooperate. Last Friday at the NATO summit, members approved the proposal to expand and link missile defense shield systems in the U.S. and Europe to protect against long-range missile attacks from rogue states like Iran.

NATO’s secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen sought to expand missile defense in Europe and made it clear that he wanted Russia’s cooperation in the effort. He got it, but at what cost? Although Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev agreed to cooperate, he said his country’s cooperation must be a “a full-fledged strategic partnership between Russia and NATO…Otherwise, it’s a no-go. Everybody’s clear that the missile defense system will be useful only when it is universal. I’ll be blunt with you, we need to sort it out.” (Source)

In other words, Russia’s cooperation is contingent on concessions NATO’s willing to make.

NATO also sought Turkey’s cooperation, but the country said it would not agree to the expansion if reference to Iran was explicit. To accommodate Turkey, Iran will not be named in the agreement.

During the summit, President Barack Obama took the opportunity to stress the importance of ratifying START, which calls for warhead and launcher reductions. No doubt ratification would please Russia, but Republican senators have   questions about START. In his weekly address, the president made reference to these senators.

“Over the last several months, several questions have been asked about New START, and we have answered every single one. Some have asked whether it will limit our missile defense – it will not. Some, including Senator Jon Kyl, have asked that we modernize our nuclear infrastructure for the 21st century – we are doing so, and plan to invest at least $85 billion in that effort over the next ten years – a significant increase from the Bush Administration.

“Finally, some make no argument against the Treaty – they just ask for more time. But remember this: it has already been 11 months since we’ve had inspectors in Russia, and every day that goes by without ratification is a day that we lose confidence in our understanding of Russia’s nuclear weapons. If the Senate doesn’t act this year – after six months, 18 hearings, and nearly a thousand questions answered – it would have to start over from scratch in January.”

The president adds that it would be a “dangerous gamble” to delay ratifying the treaty, but senators would be well advised to wait until the administration addresses their concerns.

The Heritage Foundation’s Michaela Bendikova and Conn Carroll also blogged about START this week.

NATO Summit

November 17th, 2010

Cordially Invites You to a

Roundtable Luncheon Discussion at The Heritage Foundation

What to Look For at the NATO Summit in Lisbon

President Obama will join other NATO leaders in Lisbon on Nov. 19 for a formal summit of heads of state. Their agenda will include: adoption of NATO’s new Strategic Concept; how to share the burden of common defense more equitably; shoring up the alliance’s Article 5 security guarantees to Central and Eastern Europe; the mission in Afghanistan , including President Obama’s pledge to draw down U.S. troops next July; and missile defense as a potential NATO responsibility. NATO-Russian relations also will be a topic, as Moscow continues to oppose enlarging the alliance and U.S. missile defense plans for Europe

Please join foreign policy and national security experts from Heritage and our distinguished guest, Ian Brzezinski, for a discussion of what news reporters should look for during the NATO summit.


Ian Brzezinski

Senior Fellow

The Atlantic Council of the United States

Sally McNamara

Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom

The Heritage Foundation

Baker Spring

Research Fellow, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies

The Heritage Foundation

Moderated By:

James Dean

Deputy Director, Government Relations

The Heritage Foundation

Wednesday, Nov. 17

12:30 – 2 p.m.

The Zimdahl C enter

The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE , Washington , DC 20002

RSVP to or (202) 608-6157

NATO Missile Defense

November 16th, 2010

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.

An excerpt of the article:

“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.

Russia Willing to Listen to NATO

November 1st, 2010

Last month we blogged about the upcoming NATO summit and secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s goal to expand NATO’s threater missile system in Europe. Among other things, NATO seeks Russia’s cooperation in the expansion.

In the New York Times, Rasmussen wrote: “Missiles pose an increasing threat to our populations, territory and deployed forces. Over 30 countries have or are acquiring missiles that could be used to carry not just conventional warheads, but also weapons of mass destruction. Some of those missiles can already reach European cities, and the problem will only get worse.”

According to RIA Novosti, Russia seems amenable to at least considering NATO’s proposal. During talks with NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Admiral James G. Stavridis, Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov said, “On the majority of problematic issues we found a common approach – there are certain disagreements, but I think these…will be very attentively studied and we will certainly come to a general understanding and a common opinion.”

Rasmussen also seeks Turkey’s support in missile defense expansion. (Sources also reported that the U.S. would expand missile defense in Turkey.) According to the Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu (pictured) implied that his country wouldn’t oppose NATO’s plans.

“NATO can develop defense systems by taking into consideration security risks,” and his country’s opposition “is out of the question.” Rasmussen will meet with Russian officials ahead of the NATO member nations summit on November 19 and 20 is Portugal.

Will Turkey Support NATO Missile Shield?

October 26th, 2010

Last week we mentioned that NATO seeks Turkey’s support in its effort to expand missile defense in Europe. The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey’s National Security Council will meet this week to discuss whether the country will support NATO’s goal to build missile shields against Iran and other rogue nations. Turkey’s hesitancy seems to stem from a possible backlash from rogue state Iran and Russia.

“For Turkey, however, the Obama administration’s scaled-back plan is proving a major diplomatic headache, forcing Ankara to choose between NATO and Iran. It is also triggering a fierce debate inside the country over where Turkey’s core interests lie. In recent days, Turkey’s religious conservative and pro-government media have argued that siding with NATO against Iran would end Turkey’s effort to build an independent foreign policy and damage its credibility in the Middle East.

“Both U.S. and Turkish leaders say no decision has yet been made as to which countries will host the system. Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are in the frame, according to diplomats familiar with the matter. But Turkey, which shares a border with Iran, is the location of choice for the plan’s forward radar, according to military analysts and diplomats.

“So far, Turkish leaders have remained non-committal about the missile plan and have asked Washington for assurances and technical details. According to diplomats familiar with the matter, these include: not naming Iran or any other specific country as the source of the threat that the missile system is designed to counter; ensuring that all of Turkey’s territory is covered by the system; ensuring that Turkey has access to all data and a measure of control over the decision to fire; and guaranteeing that non-NATO members, and specifically Israel, wouldn’t gain access to the data.”

Next month, NATO member countries will vote on whether to expand missile defense in Europe to cover NATO territory. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times, making the case for cooperation and why expanding missile defense is important.

Russia, which opposed U.S. plans to build missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic, expressed concerns, on national security grounds, about expanding NATO’s protection reach.

Missile Defense Quick Links for Tuesday

October 19th, 2010

—  Last year there was speculation that countries like Israel and Turkey would be alternative sites for missile defense shields after the Obama administration dropped Bush-era plans to deploy them to Poland and the Czech Republic. NATO seeks Turkey’s support to expand missile defense in Europe.

“The US has engaged Turkey in political and military dialogue on its potential technical and operational contributions should NATO adopt this approach,” Defense secretary Robert Gates said. “Contrary to some press reports, we are not pressuring Turkey to make a contribution.” (Source)

—  The Heritage Foundation’s Sally McNamara blogged about NATO and missile defense on The Foundry blog. An excerpt:

“The Obama administration’s approach to missile defense is two-fold — much the same approach as the Bush administration. President Obama is talking to nations bilaterally about hosting U.S. facilities such as radar and interceptors, which he wants to build up in several phases. But he is also seeking NATO’s approval to link up U.S. assets with European assets. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that for a 10-year investment of just $280 million, all the separate missile defense systems that NATO members own individually can be linked together for far greater coverage and protection than each enjoys by itself.”

—  Aviation Week reports that Iran and North Korea may be working together to develop ballistic missile systems. Israeli officials said North Korea’s BM25 Musudan has been delivered to Iran.